Tuesday, October 30, 2007

PMU foal disaster on wheels

On the night of October 27th a double-decker semi truck was involved in what might have been a minor accident involving a pickup truck on a road in Wisconsin. Might have been, if not for the nearly sixty young Belgian Draft Horse foals loaded into the two-level cattle/pig trailer. The driver of the semi was uninjured and the driver of the pickup suffered non-life threatening injuries. The real victims of this accident were the 59 PMU (Pregnant Mare Urine) foals who should not have been on that truck in the first place.
Warning, the images contained in this web page might be hard to view. These horses had to be cut out of the trailer, which had flipped, blocking the doors. Some were already dead. Others severely injured. If you have a weak stomach, you might not want to look. The pictures are here.
At press time it appeared that 45 of the horses were still alive, but I'm unclear about how many will continue to survive, or how many might still succumb to life threatening injuries. To me the real tragedy is not so much this accident, as horrific as it is, but the fact that these foals were brought to such an ill-fated existence in the first place. They can thank the Pregnant Mare Urine industry for that.
For those of you who might wonder what the heck pregnant mare urine is good for, ask the multi-billion dollar drug corporation Wyeth. They use hormones gleaned from the urine of pregnant mares to manufacture hormone replacement drugs for menopausal women such as Premarin and Prempro. How do they do this? Well here's the gist of it. They get a bunch of mares, mostly drafts (larger animal, more water intake...you get the idea) and they turn them out to pasture with a stallion. Now, admitted some of the contracted ranches do make some effort to at least get a nice enough stallion to breed some passable, even really nice babies. But with an estimated 7000 mares still involved in PMU production (It was ten times that at its peak!) do you really think there are homes for 7000 even nice draft cross foals every year in a horse market that is already saturated with such crosses, as well as every other grade horse you can imagine? So anyway, now we have 7000 pregnant mares. Who get tied in a five foot wide stall for the next 10 months, their movement purposely restricted so that they're forced to pee in a cup tied under their tails. Just for comparison, the basic minimum size stall a horse should have as 12 x 12 feet. Remember the article on Factory Farming? Same deal. This sort of restriction should constitute CRUEL CONFINEMENT and be CONDEMNED. The process by which such drugs as Premarin are made creates a by-product which is in fact a living, breathing, feeling creature... a precious little foal. Just like puppies and children, no domestic horse should be born into this world without people waiting to love it. And more than love it CARE FOR IT PROPERLY. I've been a little disappointed in searching for PMU foals on rescue sites and finding many of them to be upwards of 3 years old with no apparently training for any career other than pasture ornament, and no qualifications besides being 'big' and 'flashy paint cross!'
Mind you I am in no way bashing the rescue organizations. If not for them the majority of these horses would have gone the way of those 59 Belgians. With or without the trailer accident, they would have come to a gruesome end.
I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I don't understand how women who might otherwise be emotionally fragile due to low hormone levels can sleep at night knowing that they are taking a prescription drug (which is not the only hormone replacement on the market, and has performed poorly in clinical trials) that is gleaned from the death and suffering of innocent animals, just to avoid hot flashes.


Kay said...

Unfortunately those were not PMU foals they were unsold Amish bred youngsters. And believe me a lot could be said about the Amish and their breeding and (lack of) horsemanship practices.

Jax said...

Thank you for the clarification, Kay. Teach us to jump to conclusions about foals going to slaughter, but the heart of the article still holds true.
Living just south of Penn.Dutch country I hear a bit about Amish bred horses, but not enough to write a post on it! I did recently hear that if an Amish person tells you the horse is broke to drive do not under any circumstances believe them. I've also seen a lot of older Amish buggy horses, and boy do you want to talk about rough looking...if you have any info on the Amish you'd like to share, please send it to me! I have no problem with picking on religious people :)