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Horse Disposal in California

k s swigart

There appear to be a few misconceptions about the legalities of
disposing of a horse in California.

1) You are not allowed (no matter how it died) to just let it
be scavenged and/or rot.

2)  You are not allowed (no matter how big your property) to
bury your horse on your property.

3)  There are some organizations that have arrangements with 
landfills that will allow you to bury your horse at a landfill.

4)  It has long been illegal to slaughter horses in California, 
which is why many Californians are familiar with the saying, 
"the trip to Texas" (which is where most slaughter horses from
Southern California are trucked to--alive; I believe that 
northern California horses are trucked to Oregon).

5)  Prop. 6 (about a year and a half ago) was a voter approved
proposition that made it illegal to sell a horse for slaughter
for human consumption.  Horses can still be slaughtered for 
anything else, and "killer buyers" can still buy horses and ship
them out of the state (for whatever purpose). After they are out
of the state, they are beyond the jurisdiction of California
laws.  I, personally, am of the opinion that Proposition 6 was
a political science or sociology experiment run by some students
at UC Berkeley to see what would happen if you put an emotionally
charged issue that spoke to the entire population's social taboos (people in the US just don't eat horsemeat) the details
about which most of the population knows virtually nothing and 
has absolutely no effect on the legality of any behavior of any
individuals and see if you can get people to vote for it :).

6)  In most areas, there are "dead horse hauling" services that
will haul away and legally dispose (mostly render into fertilizer)
the carcass of any dead horse.

7)  If your horse can be trailered it can be taken to the 
Wildlife Waystation in the San Gabriel Mtns (you have to make an
appointment) where the horse will be fed and cared for until
they need the meat.  At which it will be shot and rendered into
meat for the assorted wild animals they are rehabilitating there.
There may be other places that will do this same thing (I have
never really tried to find them, because it just isn't that
far for me).

8)  You can have your horse hauled of to State or County labs,
and for a fee have an autopsy performed.  At which time, the
lab itself will properly dispose of the remains.  We had this
done to Alex (because it was unclear exactly why he did not 
respond to his treatment) and I wish I had had it done with 
Saber--but I wasn't thinking straight at the time.

Even in "pay through the nose for everything" California, these
services cost less than a month's, yes, if you can't
afford to have your horse properly disposed can't 
afford the horse.  The price of having your horse euthanized and
hauled off costs less than going to a single endurance ride.

Let's be honest.  If you want the few
hundred dollars you get from selling your horse for slaughter
it isn't because you can't afford not is because you 
want to realize a few bucks from a bad situation (or you just
don't know that there are other ways to dispose of a horse than
selling it to the meat man)--but really, if you are that 
ignorant, you are too ignorant to own a horse :).

However, it is also true that some horses get sold for slaughter
BECAUSE their owners can no longer afford the horse.

Orange County, Calif.

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