Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Return to horse slaughterhouses?

February 25, 2009
Paul Dieterlen is the unusual veterinarian who doesnâ??t have a pet. But Dieterlen, who retired recently from overseeing the meat-inspection division within the State Board of Animal Health, says that if he had one, it would be a horse.

So it might seem counterintuitive that Dieterlen believes the ban on slaughtering horses needs to be lifted.

The practice was done away with for good reasons, he says. Old, arthritic animals were being trucked hundreds of miles to the few horse slaughterhouses operating in the country, often with little water, food or rest. (Dieterlen isnâ??t aware of slaughterhouses having operated in Indiana, ever.)

Now, though, instances of horse neglect are on the rise because owners canâ??t afford the hundreds of dollars needed to euthanize their animals and dispose of the bodies.

â??It leaves us with an intolerant problem,â?? he says. â??What do they do with them?â??

Indeed, it isnâ??t a small problem in a state where horses are popular with people from exurban types to the racing industry to the Amish, who still use them as draft animals. The Indiana Horse Council estimates Hoosiers own more than 200,000 horses. Thatâ??s nearly twice the population of Hendricks County.

Montana is considering opening the door to slaughterhouses. Dieterlen thinks an alternative would be for animal welfare groups to help raise money for euthanasia and disposal.

Anyone have a better idea?
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