One of the issues that keeps coming up with both pro and anti slaughter people is rescue. I’ve noticed that a fair number of PSAs seem to have disdain for traditional rescues. Several of them have appointed themselves unofficial internet watch dogs and have made a sport out of picking them apart for everything from how they set up their websites to the types of horses they choose to assist. If the rescue in question takes a firm anti-slaughter stance then chances are the PSAs do not approve of how they run their operations. Personally, I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around how any rescue could support slaughter or why anybody would choose to surrender a horse to them. I think most of us anti types can agree that rescue and pro-slaughter should not go hand in hand, but lately I’ve gotten myself stuck in a grey area. For want of a better term, these would be the listing services I’ve seen popping up more and more lately.
Most of the arguments surrounding rescues I have seen from the PSAs is what constitutes a true rescue of a horse. According to them, you must never pay for the animal or it isn’t rescue. I really don’t agree with that at all. If I go to a sale and outbid a kill buyer or an abusive idiot then I have pretty much rescued that horse from a bad fate in my books. The money I have paid goes into the hands of the person that sold the horse and they can go buy their beer or whatever else it is that was more important to them than their horse’s fate. However, with the listing services it’s a bit different. The horses have already been sold to the kill buyer and via the services (NYNE aka Need You Now Equine and Rebels being examples) you can rescue whatever horse it is by going through them. They post pictures of the horses on their pages and usually a brief description as far as level training and noticeable soundness issues. They have deals with the KBs to go in and assess these horses and list them. They don’t call themselves rescues, but they tend to tug on your heart-strings with reminders that the horse is going on the truck to the slaughter-house in X number of days and it needs to be bailed out ASAP. Basically, they are brokers. Yes, if you buy one of their listed horses, you did rescue that particular horse, but that sure doesn’t make the broker service a rescue.
I know many people have purchased animals from Rebels and NYNE and been quite happy with the animals. They have probably even felt pretty good about themselves for saving their horses from taking that one way ride to slaughter. What they don’t consider is what is really happening here. Let’s say the kill buyer bought whatever horse at auction for $150 and brought it home to his holding pens. Then the broker service comes in and decides this one is worth saving. It will look good on their website whether it is a really nice horse or some poor old relic that will tug at people’s heart-strings. So, the KB marks up his price to $400 and then the broker needs their cut and now the horse is worth $700 for you to bail out. Well the broker is just making a living, but you have now given the KB enough money to go buy 2 or 3 more horses to replace that one you just saved. Regardless of if you buy 1 or 6 horses from him, he will fill his load and it will not decrease the number of horses he sends to slaughter at all. Technically, by saving one horse you have just sealed the fate of a few extra horses. You have actually just contributed to the slaughter pipeline.
So what is the answer? Those horses standing on feedlots, waiting to ship to slaughter, are just as worthy of saving as the one about to go in the auction or the one on Craigslist being offered for $50. Obviously, I don’t want to see a single horse ever go to slaughter. I think if you are looking for a specific horse for your personal use, you should buy the perfect horse for you no matter where it comes from. The happier you are with your horse, the less likely that horse will end up in the pipeline. But, if you are looking to save a horse, I’m suggesting you `save’ it before the KBs get their hands on them. I have a problem with brokers like Rebels and NYNE lining their pockets by tugging at people’s heart-strings. I have a problem with them playing God and deciding what horses deserve to be saved based on what will make them the most money. It really pisses me off that one saved horse means double or more that will end up slaughtered because of these people. Sadly, as long as there is slaughter available I don’t know what the answer is. I hate grey areas, I really do.