Horse slaughter, pet euthanizing brings up hotbed of emotions, little critical thinking

Good Gravy! A look at permaculture with Tasiyagnunpa Livermont

Gardening and seeking sustainable means of living has taught me more about death than I ever thought an exercise in nurturing life ever would.

In the debates on end-of-life issues for humans, the now proverbial “to pull the plug or not pull the plug” has reached into the realm of pet care and livestock management.

Now I’m not trying to say that my way of thinking is the only way permaculturists could look at this, but I find it helpful nonetheless.

Permies are tender-hearted yet practical people. We’re the ones who have chosen the practice of permaculture over fighting governments head on as lawyers or activists or some other means of affecting ecological change.

The issues of whether to legalize and create horse slaughter houses is a huge issue, because many people feel that horses are like dogs and should be given every chance to live and at the end of that life be buried with dignity. I know of horse people burying their beloved pets in horse graveyards.

Others will send the horse to a slaughter house to be processed to some useful end.
I find that I’m somewhere in the middle. Sending any animal to a house of death at the end of its life saddens and disgusts me.

I am the typical locavore in believing that my food should be happy up until the time I or my neighbor walk out into a yard and butcher it on the spot and then process, before much fear is put into the animal. I know that’s a romantic notion given the thousands of horses in our country, so then must I champion the humane horse slaughter houses?  I am afraid for the horses who get sold over and over until they finally drop, suffering from poor care and complications from old age.

I feel quite the same for pets, those dogs, cats and whatever else we share our domestic spaces with, ought to be basically cared for, but put out of their misery when the need arises. Too many pets are dumped on the streets, because people don’t have the stomach to put them out of their misery themselves or have a local farmer with a pistol do it for them.

Perhaps the answer to all of this is to license euthanizers who would be rather good-hearted, well-trained people who are calm and could dispatch the animal without causing it undue fear. A community could decide on the means of euthanasia and have a few options for humans making this decision and seeing to the final need for the animal in their care. From there the animals could be processed for other uses, composted or given back to the family for burial if they request it. Local shelters could help organize these euthanizers into a database and offer a subsidizing program for low-income pet owners.

This would be an excellent way to ensure the dignity of death to our animals, as well as to us as their caregivers.


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