Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Allow Yourself to be Educated!

Please excuse the font sizing. Our blog is malfunctioning... following the colors will help you see the 'flow' of things better.

Hello All:
A previous post this year that included a student's YouTube documentary video brought a lot of hate towards the Last Chance Corral. This is damaging not only to us, but also to our cause, and ultimately, the horses that we save. After receiving hate mail and comments, we tried at first to justify and explain our actions. To no avail. The negative energy continued, criticizing and tearing us down. Sever
al people even promised to make sure that they tell everyone they know NOT to support us. Our replies and efforts to defend our actions did nothing but fuel the fire. Over the past few months, we though about how to close this issue, while educating the public. We decided that since all of the negative energy was coming from people who are NOT licensed veterinarians, what could be better than get some veterinarians to give their educated opinion? Here it is. All comments will remain posted on this blog, I will not delete anything. Hopefully people will realize the truth and reform their opinions. If not, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and if they choose to be ignorant and let their emotions prevent them from being absolutely humane, they may. The text in blue was written by Victoria.

To Whom it May Concern: I have an update on “humanity” in regard to euthanasia by bullet. I received a great deal of “hate mail” after the release of Kyle’s documentary/film made during last year’s foal season. You can’t believe the impact that those letters had on my emotional well being. I was devastated. This will be my final statement in regard to this matter. I will try my best to be brief and succinct.

I was first instructed on this technique while attending vet school, where we used a ‘captive bolt’ (pneumatic 22 caliber) to euthanize equine. I have only performed this under the most dire of circumstances when no other option was available.

Last Friday, a starvation horse was brought to the Last Chance Corral. The kind people that transported him meant him no harm, however, the trailer they used was a stock trailer and the mats had no tread. It was raining that day, and so the mats were slick, allowing the horse no traction. When the trailer pulled in, all I could see was the horse’s nose and his distraught, panic-filled eyes. He was stuck in the rear corner, head up, knees tucked under, balancing on his brisket. His back legs were splayed to either side. This was BAD. This is not a position that a horse can assume without damage. We were able to pull the horse out of the trailer. His back was broken, he would never stand again.

We stayed with him, sheltering him from the driving rain, offering him what minimal comforts we could while keeping him from thrashing. His front end was still useful, and so he kept attempting to rise. We held him for eight and a half hours until a vet could get there. At that point, the horse was humanely euthanized by an equine surgeon. The method he employed was a 22 caliber pistol. Because of all of the bad press I received, this horse suffered untold misery for eight and a half additional hours, only to meet the same end that could have been provided. To those of you who held my hands tied, I can only say this. SHAME ON YOU!

Shame on you for condemning me over something that you could never imagine yourself doing, or even imagining that it is humane. I will ask you to put aside your emotions and allow these PROFESSIONALS to EDUCATE you.

-Victoria Goss, President and Founder of the Last Chance Corral

Here are the responses of two veterinarians when we asked them if they thought euthanasia by bullet is humane:

“Humane? This is the ONLY 100% guarantee of a quick, painless death.”

-Abbott P. Smith, DVM and equine surgeon

“There are only two concerns I have with euthanizing a horse with a bullet. First, the person with the gun might trip and fall and shoot a bystander or themselves. Secondly, if the person is uninformed, they might not perform it correctly. It is totally humane when done correctly. I euthanized my own horse that way.”

-Daniel Stradley, DVM

These are pictures of the horse mentioned in Victoria's letter, Silver. Silver was 10 years old when he died.

I am not a veterinarian, but I did do some research on this
topic. Here is what I found. I made sure that my sources were from nothing less than licensed veterinarians. Please set your emotions aside and read this with an open mind. -Rachel

The horse world is full of controversy.
What should be acceptable? What is considered humane? Sometimes, the answer is clear cut. Other times, the issue at hand can be debated until the end of time. These issues, almost always regarding animal safety and welfare, evoke strong emotions from both points of view.

One of these issues, horse euthanasia, has plagued the Last Chance Corral in recent times. In Athens, Ohio, there are no licensed veterinarians that will do emergency house calls- especially on a Sunday night. One such evening, we had to make the difficult decision to end the suffering of one of our orphan foals. This baby was dying, and we realized that making it wait until the next morning to euthanize it would be cruel… and that’s if it could make it to the next morning.

The barbiturates used to euthanize animals are controlled substances, meaning that veterinarians have to log and report every time they use the drug and the amount used. It is not legal for anyone other than a licensed veterinarian to possess these drugs. That factor combined with the reality that a veterinarian could not be obtained to perform the euthanasia after hours on Sunday forced us to make an extremely difficult decision. Though the foal looked fine externally, her organs were ‘calling it quits’. She was premature due to an induced labor, and because foals do not develop outside the womb, the baby’s organs were not able to take the demand of continued life.

It was evident that this could not wait until the next day, when we could trailer the baby to a veterinarian. Victoria was forced to euthanize the foal by gunshot, using the very technique that she was taught in vet school by licensed veterinarians. An Ohio University student was present at the time and documented the euthanasia. Pictures leading up to the euthanasia were compiled into a documentary video and put on the internet. We grieved for the little soul and turned our energy and attention to the many other orphans that relied on us. Then, we waited for the storm that was sure to come.

The internet is a dangerous thing. Anything posted on the internet is guaranteed to be seen by all- educated and ignorant alike. The way people percept anything depends on their present level of education and their own personal moral standards. Unfortunately, with the click of a mouse, everyone is subject to everyone else’s opinion- whether they like it or not. There is not an ‘online professor’ to correct mistakes when people spew misinformation. It is up to those defending themselves to shed light and information on the overly emotional and misinformed.

The storm came less than a day after posting the video. Hate mail arrived instantly, and large Last Chance Corral sponsors were contacted and told to never donate to our organization again because we shoot foals. This is not only hurtful to us, as we are hoping against hope to do what is right for the foals, but it is harmful to the organization that struggles to fulfill a promise made to ‘the nurse mare foals’- to do what we can to save as many as we can. Horse lovers were appalled and horrified that we would shoot innocent baby horses, and argued that even if the baby needed to be euthanized, it should have been done with the intravenous serum… the supposed ‘only humane method’.

Now remember what I said earlier. It is a right for people to have their own opinions and to state them freely, no matter their education or lack thereof. What most people do not understand, though, is that euthanasia by gunshot is not only an acceptable way to end a horse’s suffering, but it is the preferred method among veterinarians. Here are the facts. Quotes from Veterinarians ONLY are included, and both the lethal injection and death by gunshot are discussed.

There are currently no FDA approved euthanasia solutions for horses available in the United States. This means that the serums used are not guaranteed to work on horses. They are obviously still used, despite that fact. When the serum is used on horses, they can seizure, convulse, and often require a second and even a third injection- all while feeling everything going on around them. Though sometimes the appearance of ‘falling asleep’ is apparent, whether a reaction will take place is undeterminable before the injection is given. The injection may only be given by a licensed veterinarian, making emergency intravenous euthanasia even more difficult to obtain. Jerry Black, DVM, says “I have seen [a gun] used hundreds of times on cattle and horses and know in my mind that it is very humane and is much more instantaneous than chemical euthanasia. The animal literally knows nothing.”

Intravenous euthanasia is undoubtedly an approved and acceptable means of euthanasia in a horse. Some things must be taken into consideration, however. What if a horse with a broken leg is struggling violently, creating an impossible task for the veterinarian when he or she attempts to find a vein to inject an overdose of barbiturates? Remember, if the serum is injected anywhere other than the vein, it provokes strong, violent convulsions and an untold amount of agonizing pain. What then? What if the horse required a second or third injection, due to the convulsions from the first one?

The American Veterinary Medical Association recognized these ‘what-ifs’ and explored all possible ways of euthanizing an animal- both humane and inhumane. The results of their research are easily accessible to any member of the public, and are laid out in a clear cut format. Page three of AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia states the following:

In evaluating methods of euthanasia, the panel used the following criteria: (1) ability to induce loss of consciousness and death without causing pain, distress, anxiety, or apprehension; (2) time required to induce loss of consciousness; (3) reliability; (4) safety of personnel; (5) irreversibility; (6) compatibility with subsequent evaluation, examination, or use of tissue; (7) emotional effect on observers and operators; (8) compatibility with subsequent evaluation, examination, or use of tissue; (9) drug availability and human abuse potential; (10) compatibility with species, age, and health status; (11) ability to maintain equipment in proper working order; and (12) safety for predators/scavengers should the carcass be consumed.

As I go on, take into consideration the criteria, and realize that a panel of licensed veterinarians produced these standards and guidelines. This should be read and absorbed with an open mind, tossing emotions aside to let knowledge and reality move in. When the subject of shooting an animal to put it out of its misery is mentioned, people tend to think of Bambi in that the animal dies an agonizing death. Realistically, the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia states that euthanasia by gunshot is a rapid death that provides instant loss of consciousness (p 33). They take equine euthanasia into special consideration, and mention that intravenous euthanasia is acceptable, but “these drugs may prolong time to loss of consciousness because of their effect on circulation and may result in varying degrees of muscular activity and agonal gasping” (p 18). They also state that “physical methods, including gunshot, are considered conditionally acceptable techniques for equine euthanasia” (p 18).

Doug Byers, DVM, states “I would equate captive bolt with gunshot and consider both humanely superior to lethal injection when performed properly. The public’s perception of lethal injection being the only humane procedure parlays to the standards of veterinary profession in this country- we simply do not teach instantaneous lethal trauma.” Another veterinarian, Dr Tom Lenz, shares his viewpoint and reasoning on the subject.

The captive bolt in the hands of an experienced person is completely humane because the horse is immediately rendered unconscious. It has the same effect as a gunshot when placed properly. I believe that it is more humane than chemical injection for two reasons. If you watch horses that are euthanized with the injection, many of them experience a period of bewilderment or confusion just before they lose consciousness. There is no doubt that they are aware that something strange is occurring. Second, many of the horses following chemical injection do not die quickly and require a second or third dose. With gunshot or captive bolt, the horse is rendered unconscious immediately.

It seems that if gunshot is indeed the preferred method for euthanizing a horse, the intravenous injection would lose popularity in America. All of the medical evidence states that when done properly, it is a humane and effective way to euthanize a horse without risk of convulsions or multiple attempts. If so, why is the injection ever so popular among Americans who face the decision to euthanize their horses? Karen E. N. Hayes, a veterinarian, comes with a good point in her article “At Your Mercy: Euthanasia”. She states the following, “Veterinarians generally choose lethal injection or gunshot for euthanasia. In Europe, gunshot is the preferred method; in the US, lethal injection is more popular, likened to the emotional ideal of dying in one’s sleep”. The pros she lists for the lethal injection are that “if done properly, it is less violent in appearance; bloodless; quiet; and humane”. The cons are as follows and are found in the same article:

Only one type of barbiturates shuts down the brain first, before shutting down other bodily functions. Other products (such as T61 and succinylcholine) cause a heart attack or paralysis and suffocation, so are meant to be used on a horse under anesthesia. Some vets don't have the license to carry barbiturates, which are classified as controlled substances. The other drugs are cheaper and safer to carry. Regardless of drug, administration requires expertise: it must be given via vein or heart injection, either of which requires skill. If the needle misses the mark, the drug won't work and can cause a violent and painful reaction.

She also discusses the pros and cons of euthanasia by gunshot, and states that shooting the animal properly “is reliable, instantaneous, externally bloodless, and humane. The emotional/social stigma can make this upsetting for witnesses.”

There are veterinarians everywhere that feel similarly on the topic. Dr Woody Asbury has had experience with both, and shares the conclusion that he has come to.

I practiced veterinary medicine from 1956 until recently, and I administered lethal doses of barbiturates for euthanasia countless times. This technique is much slower than euthanasia by bullet, and frequently required additional injections. I had clients who would prefer a quicker method. On several occasions I used a pistol to euthanize horses. Aside from the danger of gunshot to bystanders (or administrators), the results are infinitely better with the pistol than with the barbiturates. Also, I don’t buy the ‘fear and apprehension’ problems that activists claim. There is no wild-eyed anticipation or screaming when the environment is managed correctly.

This makes one wonder, is the lethal injection really for the good of the horse, or is it just for the horse owners, who do not want to see their companion and partner be shot? Isolating your feelings from fairness to the animal must be done in order to make a wise painless decision for the animal. Anything less is selfish, and in fact, potentially inhumane.

No matter how gruesome it may seem, the public must realize that what right is not always easy. They need not condemn the very people that are trying to solve the problem and do what is best for the welfare of the horses. Those who have not been in the situations that we have faced have no right to judge. They don’t know the anguish that we experience making sure that we keep pressing on until it is evident that we are no longer helping. We owe it to the foals and horses we work with to respect them enough to set our personal emotions aside, give them one last kiss and rub on the neck, and give them a dignified, calm, and definite end.


We asked M. Ann Mandic, DVM, to send a few words regarding this topic to us. Her reply is in purple.

To Whom it May Concern:

I have been very concerned about some of the feedback that has been received by the Last Chance Corral regarding the student’s video that appeared last month. I feel the responsibility to express my feelings on the subject, and have pondered all viewpoints to be sure that I keep my mind open and objective. I approach this as someone who has officially worked with companion animals since 1970. My life’s work has allowed me many great joys as well as some heartbreaking times. It is not reality to have the first without the second if you are in the real world of animals.

As a veterinarian as well as a caregiver of my own family of animals, my greatest challenge has been and probably always will be to find a method that helps with the daunting decision of when loving is to let go. My prayer has always been and always will be to not give up a moment prematurely but to not linger a moment too long when death is the only kindness left to give. Once a decision to end suffering has been made, I have found it absolutely essential that I do not indulge my feelings at that time. The act of euthanasia is a task that must be performed as perfectly and precisely as anything I do in my practice. If I do not separate my emotions, letting them cause my hands to quiver or my eyes to blur, I may give my patient a moment of discomfort or anxiety, which would be unforgivable. My tears have flowed both privately and publicly after my patient is finally at peace. These are never happy times, but in some cases, my tears of sadness also combine with tears of relief.

As the years have gone by, I find this aspect of my job to be more difficult than ever. Some have asked if one “gets used to it”. I have not. Also, as the years have gone on, I have come to understand that my method of ending suffering is not the only humane method. Although I am a small animal veterinarian, I have used intravenous euthanasia on two of my own horses. Although this method is very quick, I must say that the seconds seemed to take forever. There was a time that I would have been horrified to think of anyone using a gun on any animal. I now realize that someone properly trained and self disciplined can deliver an exceptionally humane release this way.

As I watch the Foal Season video repeatedly in light of the resulting controversy, I can understand the emotions that may have been evoked seeing Victoria Goss preparing to do what she had to do. What was not seen was the anguish, the efforts, and the tears that went into that most difficult of decisions… not a moment too soon, not a moment too late. Remember, the time for tears and emotion is not while preparing to administer the perfectly placed injection or bullet.

I have seen the Last Chance Corral in action. I have been on the phone while very difficult decisions are being made. I have never seen anything except selfless, devoted, caring about the foals and horses lucky enough to find their way there. It seems that most people understand all of this for themselves, but I fear there may be some that become so upset and angry that the anger is displaced. This is very understandable, but please do not confuse the problem with the solution.

I have supported the Last Chance Corral both financially, spiritually, and professionally. I have also often wished I was not hours away, so that I could be available on a sad Sunday night, when a veterinarian was needed quickly. Please see clearly the source of your angst and frustration. Is it really the arduous, selfless, and compassionate efforts of the amazing people at the Last Chance Corral, or rather that huge part of the horse world that sees horses as things, as businesses, as little more than used vehicles? Please do not undermine the efforts of those who work so selflessly for the horses. They are sensitive people, their work is difficult, and they need every bit of support and encouragement you can give. I have learned to harness the anger and the sadness and let it become energy that can work to help change the sad circumstances one animal at a time.

I hope that I have offended no one by what I have written here, it is truly from my heart.

Sincerely and respectfully,

M. Ann Mandic, DVM

As I said before, whatever your viewpoint is, if you comment, your comment will be left up on this blog. We understand that some people refuse to learn the truth, but we felt the need to give this issue closure. We hope that it is enough, and will continue to strive to make a difference.

Thank You,

The Last Chance Corral


Walter said...

Good site for any equine fan.

Walter Donovan
Veterinary School Adminstration
Veterinary College Abroad

Rachel said...

What a wonderful article! I have seen first hand what "lethal injection" can do to a horse. I've seen it work fast and Ive seen it take more than 3 injections. The people who are against the "gun and bullet" method should see what a horse that takes up to 3 injections goes through before they die... Its sickening! Muscle convulsions, teeth clamped, eyes rolled back and the way you can tell they are pain!(Think about the way your muscles burn from small injections at the doctors office? Wanna try an overdose?). The worst part is the poor creature probably suffered for hours before the vet could even get their.

I think you guys are doing one hell of a job! What you do to help these horses is amazing and those horses couldn't be in better hands! Helping a foal escape hours of misery is by far the most noble and kind thing a horse owner could do.

kas0859 said...

Victoria & Rachel- You are two of the bravest women I know. Everyday you deal with the callousness that humans inflict on the innocent with open arms and loving hearts. I read your blog with tears in my eyes but with a renewed hope in my heart that 'those people' will forgive and forget. Walk a mile in my shoes comes to mind. I would never presume to know how you feel when making a decision of life and death, but I know how I felt when it became my time to make that decision. There are no words only emotions. I learned a lot from reading the comments from the veterinarian's. I thank both you and them for that. Thank you for taking care of Silver and I hope he finds peace on the other side. God Bless. Kathy: Gambit's Mom

JeniQ said...

Victoria and Rachel - Thank you for the great article and I wish I could apologize for those who do not understand what it takes to make a life or death decision for another living being. It's not an easy decision, it's not one that is made lightly or without pursuing all other avenues. But it is one that needs to be made for the best interest of that being - not for the decision maker.

Again - Thank You for all you do for these loving, trusting beings.

BMB said...

I read this article last year, and think it is a sad, but great read.

Who Hurts More, the Injured Horse or the Person Who Has To Kill It?

Best Wishes for LCC!

MACPhD said...

Unfortunately those who choose to be ingnorant will not take the time to read your very well presented arguments or consider any view but their own. Please know that many of us have dealt with the sad circumstances of euthenizing a charished friend. It is something we do for them not to them. We are the ones who suffer this loss when we choose not to let them suffer. I admire your commitment to ending the unnecessary suffering of horses either by finding ways to improve their lives when possible or making the tough decisions to end thier suffering when it is not. God Bless, Yuri's mom.

Sage said...

Far, far better for an animal to be out of pain quickly and as painless as possible rather than left to suffer hours until a vet is able to attend. Compassion has it's place in society, but not at the cost of suffering.

If the only option available was a captive bolt then that is the right option. I can't talk about the injection side, I have no experience but the sheer size of the horse has to mean such huge doses of drugs that the effects must take time to act on their system, it is hard to reassure a small pet such as a dog when the time is right, how do you manage a large animal.

I hope you can get some closure to this story now, and continue on with your great work...

Enzo aka Limited Edition said...

Thank you for offering to educate all animal lovers regarding this. I have adopted a nourse mare foal and it is a wonderful experience for my whole family. What most don't understand is that by trying to keep these foals alive when they will not thrive is even more inhumane. When we are not faced with the long term consequences, expense and suffering that some of these foals endure it is easy to pass judgement. I also watched the video when the foal was shot, I also sat back and wondered for a brief second how anyone could do this. The moment was brief because I understand that you have seen and experience the suffering and I have not, you are there trying to save these foals and you know when the point comes that they can not be saved. Without your organization I would not have the beautiful and healty foal that greets me each morning waiting for his breakfast. He would have starved to death or been sent to slaughter without you. Please ignore the mail, there will always be those who judge, but until they have walked in your shoes they should not speak. You were at peace with your choice because you knew you had done everything that could have been done. Foals do not continue to develop once they are born and if they are premature sometimes they are doomed. Please continue to do what you do best, Saved orphaned foals. Maybe the student who posted this can start their own organization to save foals...sometimes you don't know until you are there.

Thank you for all that you do!
Kim trimble

Karen said...

In response to the exceptionally informative and articulate blog post: As a volunteer, I have held one of those foals as it slowly succumbed to pneumonia. For days we hoped the treatments provided would kick in, but it just wasn't meant to be for that one "little". I sat with Victoria holding the foal as she whispered to him promises of running in fields of clover with the sun shining warmly. When his heart was working so hard to pump oxygen into his fluid filled lungs to no avail,and his legs grew cold with the depleted circulation, it was time to let him rest. His fight was valiant but in vain. It was two am on a sunday night. We had done all we could humanly do: he had his last few days in warm clean shavings with a belly full of warm milk, wrapped in dryer-warmed towels and the comfort of a human lap to lean on. When the final release came, I knew that it was administered with humility, reverence and the solmemn promise that someone else would be saved in his place. I was sad at the loss, of course, but I was able to reconcile the action, knowing it was done with nothing but heartfelt gravity and best interest of the foal. I was able to sleep that night knowing he was finally at peace, making his way to that sunny clover field on the other side.

As a licensed counselor, I also want to add that the displaced anger directed at Victoria and Last Chance was undeserved. Yes, inhumane euthanasia happens, but not at Last Chance. This blog was educational for me, a new horse owner, as well. Should the decision ever need to be made, I now will personally request a quick, professionally executed bullet for my forever horse, Cowboy, as hard as that is to contemplate. I'm glad I won't be wringing my hands with doubt should that moment arise. I've been educated. Thank you Victoria, and thank you Stretch for great research. I will be sharing it with as many as I can. ---BIG GROUP HUG! Karen (Caribou)Tinsley, M.A., LPC

aj202314 said...

until other people walk in your shoes they have no clue what you go though in saveing there lives you are there angle they have been looking for i have a horse from you and he is thebest thing ever keep up the good work

kelly said...

keep up the good work you girls are great

jlbackcountry said...

I completely agree. I know several people around me with horses. I've talked to one and this person had to make the "final" decision. This person's horse had gotten his leg caught in a round pen panel - as it happened the only one that wasn't covered - no one was home and didn't get there until about an hour later and the horse had snapped off his leg at the ankle. In that time, I would definitely choose bullet. It's sad, and yes, I would cry, but there's no way around it. Sometimes, things just have to be done now and cannot wait.

At this time, I'm facing having to make the same decision with my gelding. He went completely blind about a month ago and since then he's torn out the fence I don't know how many times, has cut his face, and his leg. While I nurse his wounds, I think .. what's the best thing? What if he gets hurt while we're away somewhere and suffers? I would rather it be immediate and him not have to suffer. I take this article to heart and will truly keep this in mind at any given time.

You guys are a brave bunch, and I will support you no matter what.

Keep going.

Horse Advocate said...

Part I of II


I received your letter and pages of information LCC mailed to those of us who expressed great concern with your decision to shoot a nursemare foal that you deemed too sick to continue. Sadly, I imagine that little filly was not the first horse to be killed in this manner.

You stated that if we do not support your choice to euthanize a horse with gunshot, then we must be responding to this with our emotions and we could not understand the difficult decisions you deal with in horse and nursemare foal rescue. I have actually dealt with these situations in my rescue work, and would not even consider the decision you made. I also have four (4) decades of horse experience, and helped to restore the health of horses suffering from severe starvation and illness. These horses would have most likely been euthanized if they were with someone else or at LCC. The horse rescue(s) I choose to support work day and night (closely with vets) to give a horse or foal every chance at life.

As I wrote in a previous letter, Last Chance Corral is a non-profit organization and 501c3, and you accept charitable donations. Therefore, you should also be following a set of guidelines that your donors should easily be able to access, read, print and understand. You are operating as a registered charity in the state of Ohio with a board of directors, so there should be meeting minutes. Please advise where we can obtain the minutes from the meeting on the decision of how you handle horses or foals that are sick or injured at LCC. There should be documentation on the choice to shoot a sick horse or foal at LCC, and it should also be fully disclosed on your website. Please direct us to where this is posted?

There should also be a consistent “check and balance” in place for your organization, so you are able to see when certain decisions are not in the best interest of the horse or foal.

I reviewed the information you sent regarding euthanasia by bullet or captive bolt, and I have many issues and concerns with what was declared in the letter and documentation:

“Though the foal looked fine externally, her organs were “calling it quits” – How do you know this without a full CBC panel and other tests that would be done by a veterinarian? You may have seen symptoms with this little filly; however, you should not be giving the final diagnosis on your own of what you believe is wrong, and then just shoot that foal!

“In Athens, Ohio, there are no licensed veterinarians that will do house calls” – I was quite surprised by this statement, and so I did some checking. I confirmed this statement was not accurate or truthful, since there are equine vets located near you who do farm calls after-hours. Dr. Steve Abfall is one, and he works with Dr. Ryan Rutter to ensure all farms and horses receive emergency care 24/7. The vet you have used for years (Dr. Pete Smith) no longer does farm calls, but all are welcome to bring a sick horse or foal to him any time of the day and night. And he will still make “house calls” for his long-time, trusted clients.

“It was evident that this could not wait until the next day, when we could trailer the baby” – Why would you need to wait until the next day? As mentioned above, you could easily place the foal on your trailer and take it to your vet. You pick up nursemare foals at all times of the day and night; why not do this for the sick foal? You still had some options.

Horse Advocate said...

Part II of II

“We held him for eight and a half hours until a vet could get there” – Are you kidding me? I cannot believe there was no veterinarian to help this severely injured horse any sooner?!

Note: The drawing of this poor horse’s catastrophic injury was unnecessary and horrifying. It was also insulting, since we can understand that a broken back is devastating! Sadly and ironically, if you could not get one vet to come to your farm for over 8 hours, and this horse had so much pain and suffering, this would actually be the dire situation you’ve been trying to describe. This is also very different from the sick nursemare foal.

“The method he employed was a 22 caliber pistol” – I cannot believe that was his choice. I was told that a veterinarian in your area would end the horse’s life in the manner the owner chooses. I also checked into what you wrote about this being a “preferred method”:

“… euthanasia by gunshot is not only an acceptable way to end a horse’s suffering, but it is the preferred method among veterinarians.” - This is not a true statement. Several equine vets and horse owners were contacted in different geographic locations. Every single one preferred the serum to euthanize, and many refuse to kill a horse with a bullet, even if the owner requests this method (mostly to save themselves $45-$60 for the serum).

“AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia states that euthanasia by gunshot is a rapid death that provides instant loss of consciousness” and “intravenous euthanasia is acceptable, but these drugs may prolong time to loss of consciousness” – The first statement is coming from an organization that is pro-slaughter. This also must be done exactly right, with no human error. The 2nd statement is misleading (mentioned several times in your letter), since that scenario is rare. When a veterinarian administers the serum properly, it is fast.

“Doug Byers, DVM, states ‘I would equate the captive bolt with gunshot and consider both humanely superior to lethal injection when performed properly’” – This is a subjective and biased statement, and is not accurate. This was also very concerning to me, since it is the stance for pro-slaughter advocates. It has been proven that it is absolute torture and a slow, painful death of horses by using captive bolt in slaughter plants. Please read the following statement from a licensed equine veterinarian: “The captive bolt is not a proper instrument for the slaughter of equids, these animals regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck, they are fully aware they are being vivisected.” – Dr. Lester Friedlander, DVM & former Chief USDA Inspector (he would know!)

Note: When I did a “Google” search on euthanasia by bullet, I found much of the same information you sent to us by reading the first website link that pulled up. That was also concerning to me since you condemn the internet in your letter, but also use it to state “facts?” Did you research that site for validity?

You have an obligation to your donors and the public who are considering a donation to LCC, to fully disclose your policies on euthanasia and allow access to meeting minutes (especially where euthanasia was discussed). You are not allowing donors to see what they are supporting and that is not how a 501c3 should operate. Nothing should be withheld.

Please also reconsider why you have received so much “hate mail” (your words) on this. There is substance and truth in what I have written to you; something is very wrong here.

kas0859 said...

Dear HorseAdvocate, I commend your willingness to state your OPINION here regarding LCC's policies. There are thousands of horses sentenced to death every day in this country. In a perfect world only the old, sick or injured would cross the rainbow bridge, and do so peacefully. I worry endlessly about the others. The ones who's only crime was to be born too slow or not the right color suffer at the hands of the over-breeders' quest for that "perfect" specimen. Or the back-yard breeder looking to make a buck from their homegrown mare or stud. The Mustangs being rounded up relentlessly and without mercy by the Bureau of Land Management. The Amish who road wear their horses out and trade them in like used cars. These are all crimes we all care about. Thankfully thousands of people across this country like Victoria, her team, and you and me are trying to make a difference to a few very lucky horses. I'm sure you do all you can for "our" horses and for that I thank you. PLEASE let us focus are energy into putting an end to ALL horse slaughter, ALL premarin farms, and ALL nursemare farms that discard precious babies and their mommas like trash. -Gambit's Mom, Kathy

Anonymous said...

While I am disheartened with this method and it saddens me anytime it must be used, I see the necessity and am very grateful for the peaceful painless end the horses meet. Kudos to you guys for finding the strength to withstand this. I only wish I had something to donate!