Santa Fe Scoop

Article I just found on Lots of food for thought here. So depressing. So many horses, not enough homes....

by: Christy Corp-Minamiji
December 01 2009 Article # 15458

I hate blue tarps. Ask most people what comes to mind when they see a blue tarp, and I suspect they will say, "camping," or "shade." When I unfold a tarp and hear that rusty plastic rattle, I see the stains of fluids of decay; I smell death. Blue tarps cover the corpses of my failures.

I touched too many tarps this summer, overheard too many phone calls that tell the whole story.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Is he old, or ... ?"

"I see. That's too bad. Yes, we can take care of that for you. I'm sorry."

"Will you bring him here, or do you want the doctor to come to you?"

"Well, you can call the rendering company, or I can give you another number."

"All right, you're on the book for tomorrow morning."

I know the appointment even before our office manager hangs up and says, "I'm sorry. You've got another one tomorrow."

I'm sorry, too. I recognize the necessity of euthanasia, and intellectually, I'm glad to belong to a profession that can legally end suffering. But those are abstractions.

Price-shopped euthanasias are the worst. When a client's first words are "What will it cost to put my horse to sleep?" the rationale doesn't matter. That is code for "I can't afford to keep my horse." We had too many of those this summer--too many decrepit horses, too many hard-pressed owners burning in guilt, too many blue tarps.

People are sometimes horrified that I am willing to kill an animal that is not suffering. Sometimes I am horrified, too. "I went to school to heal animals," the idealistic voice in my head cries. The voice fades, worn hoarse by years of reality. Reality is rarely a shiny place with gleaming horses recuperating in tidy stables and fat ponies grazing emerald pastures.

Modern reality holds too many unwanted and unusable horses: old, intractable, chronically or expensively lame, or ill. Reality is high hay prices, high fuel costs, lost jobs, foreclosed homes, and low prices for marketable horses. Today, the horse reflects discretionary income that for many is dwindling. The wanted horse is a luxury; the unwanted horse, a burden.

Under pressure from special interest groups, equine slaughter has been outlawed in many states and faces a national ban. Most Americans are repulsed by equine slaughter. It doesn't thrill me, either. However, banning the slaughter of horses hasn't changed the outcome; the scene has simply shifted to prolonged neglect or meaningless death.

Still, I don't question clients closely when they opt for euthanasia. When appropriate, I offer other options for a horse that is not clearly suffering. These days options are limited. Rescue organizations are overwhelmed, and I can't pressure someone to choose between feeding a horse and feeding a child. Ultimately, I know this horse will die. I would prefer his death to come at my hands. This is my job, my responsibility. Owners always offer explanations and excuses. I hate the excuses. Not because I don't sympathize, but because I do. I hate the excuses because part of my job is to take the client's guilt and make it mine.

At almost every euthanasia I hear, "Do you think this is the right thing to do?"

I know this answer. There is only one answer. Regardless of circumstances, by the time this question is asked, I have done everything within my power for my patient. My duty now is to my client. "Yes, you are making a good choice for him." The choice is always right. The alternatives are worse.

"How can you stand to do this?" More tears have accompanied this question than I care to remember. My answer never changes. "This is both the worst and the best thing that I do. Every one hurts. The day that it doesn't hurt anymore will be the day that I have to find a different job." Privately, I wonder when that day will come. Every time that plunger depresses, I feel a bit of my soul slide into the vein with that blue syrup. How many times until there is nothing left?

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Comment by Claudia Inoue on January 30, 2010 at 4:56pm
Bully you???? HA! We love you and try to be the voice of reason in your life! :)
Comment by CindyR on January 30, 2010 at 4:51pm
Claudia.. the words are actually true --- but it doesn't mean you should stop trying!!

on another note: do your remarks mean that you and Sloan will stop bullying me when I mention that I might want to take in a foster dog????????? :-)

Luv ya Sis.
Comment by Claudia Inoue on January 30, 2010 at 4:44pm

How often have I heard these words from friends, family, strangers...

I KNOW I CANNOT....but I will never stop TRYING!

One animal saved...a drop in the bucket....but eventually, every bucket becomes full...let's all add ONE drop! How can we possibly cover our eyes and ears and HEARTS and not help?

I know I am posting this under a blog concerning horses, but I also know that Cindy, who posted this, loves all animals from a tiny helpless mouse in a parking lot to a big horse saved from going to Mexico to a certain fate....

What will it take to open people's eyes and end all this DEATH?

Don't ever think that YOU cannot make a difference because YOU CAN! You can be that LAST drop that makes the bucket full, saves a life, comforts an animal....

All anyone needs to do is go through the archives of blog posts here on Scoop and they can see the good that has been done...on a small but so important scale.

Forgive my rant, Cindy.

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