Many years ago, John Lennon wrote a song about his perfect world, envisioning a place where people got along and no one suffered. I'm often asked what I realistically think can be accomplished by my campaign against horse slaughter, neglect and abuse. I'm often asked this by people who think the world can't and won't change.
Here are some things that have already happened (and those of you who are my age or older, c'mon, admit it, you never thought this stuff would ever happen!)
- Major racetracks BANNING trainers known to have sent a horse to slaughter - even when the trainer has more excuses than a drunk-driving celebrity as to, gosh, how ever did that horse get there when I sold it to a children's camp? (Memo to liars: Children's camps don't want OTTB's. Trust me on this. Bad lie.)
- Actual, substantial JAIL TIME for people who starve horses - even when they have more excuses than an 8 year old with a baseball bat who doesn't know how that window got broken. But I loooove them, but I'm just poor, I lost my job, I'm sick, I'm old, they're skinny because they are old, it's not my faaaault. It's not working any more. Judges are putting them behind bars anyway and sometimes feeding them bread and water -- gotta love it!
- Retirement farms springing up all over the place and city-dwellers with no land paying for their elderly or injured horses to enjoy the retirement they deserve. How much of that did we see in 1980? Uh, yeah...
- Everywhere I look, it seems like people are stepping up. The horse feed companies are sending folks around to do nutrition seminars for free at our local feed stores. When did that start? I think it's great but I know it's a fairly recent development. Sure, it helps sales but it also helps horses.
- Here's another cool development - groups like Horses for Clean Water that are doing things like helping horse owners create environmentally friendly horse properties and deal with things like mud (always a concern here in Western Washington).
- For animals in general - major corporations bragging on their packaging and in their ads that their product is not tested on animals. They realized it made a difference in sales and that such testing was not necessary and there were alternatives. Imagine that in 1980. You would never have seen it. Nor did we see our A-list movie stars of 30 years ago campaigning against wearing fur. The only one back then was Brigitte Bardot and everybody thought she was a wacko. My, how times have changed!
I could go on all day but I'm going to move on to what I can envision happening in the next ten years. We'll see if I'm right. I also want to hear your predictions!
- I believe we'll see all animals being microchipped and hopefully a brand/microchip combo on horses so that any former owner who cares about them can log into a central database and put themselves on file as being willing to care for the animal if it is in need. Right now, we have chips like Avid, but one problem is that it's not all that easy to update the information. You have to fill out a form and mail it in - it's a pain, not up to date with our Internet age where you should be able to do this online. I see all of this getting streamlined and improved to where we simply aren't losing track of animals like we do now.
- I believe that we're going to see more and more breed organizations banning people from showing and competition for bad behavior. I just heard the Rocky Mountain folks kicked someone out of the organization for being convicted of abuse. HooRAY! An abuse conviction should mean THE END of your right to show and compete FOR LIFE. It is not easy to get convicted of abuse and I don't see innocent people getting convicted. If you got convicted or pled guilty, I think you need to be out and I think it needs to be permanent. I used to see that Illinois asshat Ron Mueller still showing at the AQHA shows after he torched those horses in the trailer for the insurance money and I always wanted to run him over with my truck.
- I believe we're going to see transport out of the country for slaughter made illegal, and while I do agree with those of you who say good luck enforcing it 100% since we can't enforce our borders period, I think proof of a violation can and will be grounds for prosecution here as well as being banned from your breed organization, racetrack, etc. I absolutely believe this will happen within the next ten years.
- I believe that public opinion is changing and that breeding horses carelessly will be as socially unacceptable in ten years as breeding kittens carelessly is now. I also see the social stigma of breeding small animals carelessly increasing -- I think that in ten years, it'll be just as common to get a bad reaction to that in rural Tennessee as it is now in Santa Monica, California. See, what happens is that areas change. The city folk go looking for more land, better air quality, cheaper housing...and they start to migrate into areas that are full of people who shoot squirrels for fun. They bring with them their ideas and their children talk to other children and learn that not everything Mom and Dad believe is necessarily right and before you know it, change happens. The squirrels are safe and the 20 year old girls are in college instead of married with three kids...
I think the world in general is full of naysayers. Hey, how many people said that the American people would never elect a black President? Uh-huh. Change happens despite the naysayers and I think it will continue to happen for animals. If you're stubbornly stuck in your 1950s thinking where you can breed whatever you want, and it's nobody's business but your own and we need slaughter because dammit it's too expensive for you to have to euth horses and you want that $100 from the dealer, or you think nothing will ever change in your rural area, or you think you're too much of a big shot in your discipline to ever get in trouble for all the shady shit you do - well, watch out, 'cause you're gonna get run over by the Progress Bus whether you like it or not.
By the way, I'm so tired of hearing that people aren't being punished for neglecting horses and that's why we need slaughter. Yes, they are. Every day. And every news story like this warns others that this behavior is no longer being tolerated by the courts. Think about seat belts. Look, I hate my damn seat belt (it hits me right in the side of the neck and I'm constantly pulling on it or trying to rig it up with baling twine so that it doesn't do that) and it's a classic example of something I think is a stupid law. But I wear my seat belt because I don't want to pay a fine. I am a classic example of the law's ability to control the behavior of someone despite that person's belief that the law is wrong. The more people get convicted, the more you're going to see people being responsible about feeding their horses OR simply not having horses in the first place (which is just fine by me!)
Convicted - fine, five years ban from owning horses
Convicted - 90 days in jail (legal max), four years ban from owning any animal
Convicted - 180 days in jail, $10,000 fine, banned from owning any animal
Convicted - Two years in prison, three more on probation
Convicted - One year in jail. Good grief - 400 wild horses? Should have shot him.
Convicted - Four months for violating ban on keeping horses. May not lease horses, either!
And now for a happy update - Falcon's Fury was a racehorse that was narrowly rescued from slaughter. Here's his page showing how he is doing today! Read the rescue story - as SOON as the trainer got busted by Delaware Park, he hustled down to the auction in a hurry trying to bribe his ass out of the fire. Didn't work. Heh, heh, heh.