Equine ethics for a sub-Malthusian world carrying costs exceed liquidity premium

Here is a recent story:

Less than four years after the last equine slaughterhouses in the U.S. closed down, an unlikely coalition of ranchers, horse owners and animal-welfare groups is trying to bring them back.

…Though horse lovers cheered when the last slaughterhouses were shuttered, some now say they may not have thought through the consequences.

The slaughterhouses disposed of the thousands of horses abandoned or relinquished each year by owners who find them too old or temperamental to be useful or who simply can no longer afford to care for them. Now, many of those horses are sold for $10 or $20 at low-end auctions and packed on crowded trailers to be slaughtered in Mexico. Animal-welfare experts say the horses often suffer greatly on the journey.

In 2006, just 11,080 U.S. horses were shipped to Mexico for slaughter. In 2008, after the American industry shut down, that number jumped to 57,017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Animal-rights supporters have been lobbying Congress for a ban on exporting horses for slaughter. They've had no success–but even if a ban did pass, some activists say, it would do little to ease suffering, as owners desperate to shed responsibility for their animals might simply abandon them to starve. Hiring a veterinarian to euthanize and dispose of a horse can cost hundreds of dollars. Horse-rescue groups take in some unwanted animals, but they don't have the resources to care for them all.

What does ethics look like when there are many more beings than can be supported alive by available resources?  How much of the animal kingdom falls under this designation?  How much of human history?  Or does this question not apply to humans?

Here is a story about abandoned horses in Ireland.

Comments

Horse meat is delicious. It's a shame that you can't get it in the US.

Aren't there some endangered lions or tigers or wolves we could let hunt them? :-)

When we restrict the free market to do good, we almost always get unintended consequences that undo our attempted "good deed" and contradict our good intentions.

Yet we never learn.

Seems like a lot of confounding issues. We put suffering pets to sleep who we love more than anything other than human family members.

Is this really about utilizing the carcasses?

Horse meat is delicious. It's a shame that you can't get it in the US.

Oh, it's easy to get, just not easy to get it for human consumption.

Mr. Mister,

In places with frequent famine, "famine culture" frequently includes traditions making it okay to eat one's own children. See, e.g., Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine, by Jasper Becker.

Sunk costs fallacy.

Humans commit parental infanticide more than any other great ape, because of the huge costs of raising a human child compared to a baby ape - this despite the huge costs of bringing a human child to term.

Thousands of people are thought to have invested in horses or ponies during the boom years in Ireland

Invested? How do thousands of people see an investment need for horses in the 21st century?

Oh gosh. Read the last paragraph of that story carefully: our beloved government is spending more than $1,000/horse/year* to pen and feed excess wild horses. The bureaucrat quoted in the story says "slaughter is not an option." It damned-well ought to be! Why am I paying taxes to provide board and care for unwanted wild horses?

*I realize 37 million divided by 40,000 is less than 1000, but the $37 million figure is certainly much understated.

Ironically for all the pet lovers, horse meat was a good source of protein for cats and dogs when it ended up in pet food. Now all pets have to eat is malamine-laced corn meal. I guarantee neither your cat nor your dog is impressed with your humanity.

PETA, in my experience, isn't so much interested in animals as it is in headlines.

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