Our first meeting was held on January 9, 2010, in Lansing, Michigan. We will continue to meet in various locations throughout the state in order to attract participation from volunteers in every corner of Michigan. We have created committees dedicated to solving different aspects of the problem, including hay and feed assistance, a temporary foster home network, veterinary assistance, and humane euthanasia guidance. Our programs are a work in progress, but our success is in helping people take care of their horses and find good homes for horses in need. We invite anyone with ideas and positive energy to come to our meetings and participate in our collective efforts to help people and save horses. Or, donate to help fund our important mission and programs. Every genuine offer of assistance is welcomed and appreciated.
*MWHC statement on horse slaughter:
As an organization dedicated to protecting our state’s horses from harm, the Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition opposes the slaughter of horses and the transport of horses from the United States to other countries for slaughter. We believe that horse slaughter has never been, and will never be, a logical solution to address horse abuse and neglect, and that the continued availability of horse slaughter has only enabled and perpetuated overbreeding, neglect, and irresponsibility by the horse breeding industry.
Horses are our companions, and the idea of slaughtering companion animals is unacceptable to Michiganders and the American people. A 2012 national poll found that 80 percent of Americans support banning horse slaughter for human consumption. We believe that horse owners must take the same responsibility for the humane disposition of their animals as do any other companion animal owners.
The Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition rejects the mistaken allegation by proponents of horse slaughter that the closing of U.S. horse slaughter plants in 2007 has led to increased horse neglect and abandonment. As the primary organization assisting our state’s law enforcement agencies with the response to large-scale horse cruelty and neglect cases in our state for the past five years, the Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition has found that without exception, those cases have involved owners dealing with mental illness or hoarding, or a lack of understanding about the basics of horse care, or a breeder eager to churn out more horses for sale despite the lack of a viable market for the horses. In not a single case did the owner indicate that if there had been a slaughterhouse nearby, he or she would have sent the horses there instead.
The fact is that the number of U.S. horses slaughtered (by sending across our borders to slaughter in Canada and Mexico — about 100,000 per year) has not decreased since U.S. horse slaughter plants closed in 2007, and any increase in the neglect or abandonment or horses, and any downturn in the horse market, are related to the economic downturn that began the same year that the last slaughter plant closed and continues today. The Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition believes that as long as slaughter is an outlet for breeders to sell excess horses, they will be rewarded—and will continue their irresponsible behavior.
The Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition is not, and has never been, opposed to the humane euthanasia of horses, and supports the use of methods—preferably a veterinarian-administered injection of sodium pentobarbital—to humanely euthanize horses that are suffering, severely wounded, or elderly and infirm. In contrast, the process of slaughter is brutal, terrifying, and because of the skittish, fight-or-flight response of horses, rarely involves effective stunning and a quick or painless death. Therefore, slaughter cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered the “humane euthanasia” of horses.
Michigan horse rescues and sanctuaries have their hands full dealing with relinquished and neglected horses that come through their doors. The Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition encourages Michigan horse owners to practice responsible ownership and husbandry of their animals, and asks them to geld their stallions and not add to the burden for those who work to rescue and rehome horses in our state.