Common sense survives | TSLN.com

Common sense survives

Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns

We can at take heart that some common sense survives in our Western states… Wyoming lawmakers broke a trail last week with their strong House Enrolled Joint Resolution 2 – Equine Resources, which calls on the United States Congress to avoid any legislation that would interfere with a state’s ability to direct the transport or processing of horses.

Legislators in Helena, Montana seem to be following those hoofprints on a trail toward helping the horse industry. On St. Patty’s Day the Montana Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee voted 7 to 2 to forward House Bill 418 to the full Senate. That was in spite of a radical animal rights lobby, and because of a strong, reasonable ag-based lobby reporting many important facts, figures and ideas.

You’ll probably find a full report of that action elsewhere in this publication. The news release I saw alleged, “For the proponents it is all about private property rights, economics, and the continued viability of traditional animal agriculture.”

While there is much of truth in that statement, it fails to mention the strong sense of accountability for stewardship and the love and compassion for horses possessed by most proponents of the bill. They are driven to action partly by outrage at the absence of processing plants which have always offered a quick and reasonably painless release for crippled, injured, suffering horses to whom death is the only alternative. The misguided action of closing all plants has turned the journey to inevitable death from “quick and reasonably painless” into lingering, horrible, excruciating agony. Because packing plants were closed, great numbers of sick, starving, suffering horses are being found and confiscated by legal authorities in many states across this nation, day after day. Their suffering is an outrage that legal processing plants could halt.

Lest you think I exaggerate, here’s a few headlines, datelines and lead copy from Associated Press articles in the March edition of Mid-Atlantic Horse published in Pennsylvania: “Frozen & starving WASHINGTON, Pa – Humane Society officials say they have found several frozen horse carcasses and more than two dozen starving horses on a western Pennsylvania farm… Malnourished SHERIDAN, Ore. – Yamhill County sheriff’s deputies have seized seven malnourished horses north of Sheridan… some of the horses were described as extremely emaciated… Animal cruelty POWELL, Wyo. – Authorities have carged a couple with animal cruelty after finding 39 malnourished horses in a corral in northern Wyoming… Bald eagles die ENUMCLAW, Wash. – Washington state Fish and Wildlife officers are investigating after at least eight bald eagles became sick or died after feeding on a horse that was euthanized near Enumclaw… Animal cruelty ZUNI, Va. – The owners of an Isle of Wight County farm where two dead horses and dozens of malnourished horses and dogs were found last month have been charged with animal cruelty… Abandoned? WINDSOR, Ohio – An Ohio sheriff’s office and an animal welfare group are investigating the deaths of two horses found in a frozen creek… it might b e a case of horses being killed because their owner couldn’t afford them… the Humane Society already looks after 14 horses that others couldn’t afford… Abandoned II? EMMETT, Idaho – Authorities are investigating a case involving 15 dead domestic horses found on federal land in southwest Idaho… BLM officials say at least 17 domestic horses have been turned out in southwest Idaho in recent weeks… New Hampshire CHICHESTER, N.H. – New Hampshire horse-lovers say they’re having a tough time handling requests from people who can’t afford their horses anymore…”

That’s pretty much coast to coast – and every one of those problems could’ve been avoided if the legal horse processing plants had not been closed.

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If I don’t have your blood pressure soaring by now, how ’bout telling you the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) and the Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association (PRCA) are fighting again? In a recent letter to the WPRA membership, PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman warned “steps taken by your leadership and its lawyers… are once again putting the relationship between the WPRA and the PRCA at risk.”

Apparently the WPRA is threatening legal action “if the PRCA does not give in to a series of unwarranted WPRA demands for more money from the PRCA.” Stressman pointed out that in the last WPRA lawsuit against the PRCA they demanded “complete independence,” which the PRCA granted under terms of the settlement. Stressman says, “The fundamental issue seems to be that the WPRA does not want to commit its own funds to match recent advancements that the PRCA has made for its members.” Specifically at this time that would include paid entry fees and higher purses at the upcoming Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo.

Stressman commented, “I know that the WPRA received 2.2 million dollars as a result of the lawsuit in 2008 and it is beyond me to understand why the WPRA is not willing to invest that money in its members.” One strong comment included in Stressman’s letter is, “I promise you that rushing to file a lawsuit will not make the PRCA give into unreasonable demands.”

Now to my favorite pet peeve on the equine scene – cloning. Thankfully the powers that be in the American Quarter Horse Association took no radical action at this year’s Annual Convention. Instead, the Board of Directors voted to delay a member proposal to approve the registration of foals produced by cloning until next year’s Convention. A task force was appointed to continue studying the myriad issues including parentage verification issues, implications on the registration process, sentiment of the general membership and the impact of cloning with respect to genetic diseases; as well as attempting to educate the general membership regarding cloning and its potential effect on the breed, the Association and its members.

Here comes the end of our ol lariat rope once again…

© 2009 Rhonda Stearns

Email Rhonda at cow_grl63@hotmail.com

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