Helping horses

Fundraiser aimed to curtail slaughter of equines

By Jonathan Horn

Contributor

Billionaires T. Boone and Madeleine Pickens welcomed Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana, to their Del Mar Country Club in Rancho Santa Fe on June 29 for a campaign fundraiser focused on curtailing horse slaughter.

Burton is pushing legislation that would make it illegal for Americans to round up and sell wild horses to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, where their meat is processed and sent mainly to Europe for human consumption. No horses have been legally slaughtered in the United States since the last abattoirs were closed in 2007. However, American so-called "killer-buyers" still deliver wild horses to processing plants across the borders, a lucrative activity Burton said needs to stop.

"Our goal is to make sure there is humane treatment for horses in this country," he said. "How the rest of the world handles it, we can't dictate to them. China does one thing, India does another, every country has their own approaches, and we try to set the example."

The roughly 150 attendees were asked to make campaign contributions to Burton, who is seeking reelection in Indiana for the 15th term. He is a proponent of HR 503, which makes killer-buying an offense punishable by up to three years in prison.

But there are also 33,000 wild horses currently in U.S. holding facilities, about 6,000 of which the government has considered euthanizing for population control. Madeline Pickens said she wants to protect them by building a sanctuary large enough for them to all roam free.

"Animal issues are very difficult because they can't talk, they don't have a voice," she said. "There are so many other issues where people have a loud voice, and so they jump to it, and the squeaky wheel gets the (grease)."

T. Boone Pickens, who spoke at the event, successfully testified before a congressional committee to close the last two large Texas abattoirs in 2007.

"We did some good, we changed some people's minds," he said. "Slaughtering the horses is a sad deal, we don't need to do that."

T. Boone and Madeleine Pickens, as well as Rep. Burton, took questions from the attendees. Topics ranged from ending horse slaughter to the proposed "Pickens Plan," which is T. Boone's solution to ending America's dependency on foreign oil. Linda Carel of Los Angeles chose to ask about horses.

Before she had the opportunity, she said of the Pickenses: "Our planet is in peril, these people heard the call, and have the means."

   
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