Nov 25, 2008 by Lee Hart

Don't get me started

On this, my first ever journey into the World of Blog, I felt it fitting to rant about a topic that surfaces every so often and that is the misguided intentions of animal welfare people.

In today’s paper was a short article about plans by Madeleine Pickens, wife of U.S. billionaire T. Boone Pickens to adopt some 30,000 wild horses and burros being held on federal lands by the U.S. government. Ms. Pickens stepped in to stop the proposed slaughter of about 2,000 head of horses – it sounds like they were just going to be put down – and rather than just save the 2,000, she found a bit more change under the cushions in the couch and is adopting the full 30,000 head herd.

Now she is looking for land where she can relocate the herd. I understand she is looking at buying Idaho.

I think it is great if someone wants to provide good care to horses. I like horses too. But I just shake my head at what I consider the misplaced or misguided need to save a domestic or wild farm animal.  I have written before, for example, about these operations that rescue laying hens and release them to a free range sanctuary somewhere. Give me a break (have you never heard of a stew pot?).

I don’t want any animal to suffer, but I still don’t have an issue with humane slaughter for meat purposes, or even just humane euthanasia. It is wonderful that Ms. Pickens is concerned about these horses, but when you think about where else in the world that money could be used to help poor and homeless people in North America, or to help the mothers of Dafur in the Sudan, or the refugees of the latest conflict in the Congo feed their kids even a cup of rice – I have to think ‘wow, where are your priorities?’.

Keep in mind too that Ms. Pickens and her money was a ring leader behind a campaign that closed the last horse slaughter plant in the U.S. Rather than advocate for a properly regulated, well supervised, humane horse processing industry that could make use of surplus and unwanted horses, the plant closed leaving many horse owners with few options other than to abandon unwanted horses. 

I know these debates on morality and social conscience can go on forever. How much of my last pay cheque did I devote to charity? What percentage of assets and wealth held by organized religion goes toward helping the poor, homeless and starving of the world? 

But there is just something about people of great wealth and celebrity who charge in to correct these so-called wrongs, that just causes me to shake my head. Hopefully Ms. Pickens’ charity will earn her a guest spot on Oprah, or even a Barbra Walter’s special so one day we can hear the full story.

I was also reading this morning that Fat Old Farm Writers in Alberta have recently been put on the Species at Risk list, so personally I am hoping that Cargill, or Viterra or maybe even Bayer Crop Science will soon step in and do the right thing.


Lee Hart

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)

Just call me The Beef Guru »


  • Hi Lee — Welcome to the blogosphere! I’ll be interested to see what folks have to say re the above point; I’ve said before in the paper that we can’t afford to have a separate species-by-species bill of rights. As long as we plan to keep eating meat here in the western world, there can only be three legal categories of fauna: people; genuinely endangered or at-risk species; and everything else, no exceptions. I know it might sound species-ist of me to say so — but if horses get a free pass just for being horses, then the next group with fond childhood memories of Wilbur the Pig or Norman the Calf will be only too glad to step up to the plate, so to speak.
    For new readers of, welcome to this new feature. Please feel free to register with us and post your own comments. Enjoy! – Dave Bedard, Daily News Editor

  • Gee whiz, now I have 2 blogs to read. I might as well start one too. It seems to be the cool thing to do. Cory.

  • Gee whiz, now I have 2 blogs to read. Maybe I should write one too? It seems like the cool thing to do. Cory.