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GUEST OPINION: Stop this horse slaughter

As many of you know, Bodega Bay is like a second home to me. I first fell in love with it in 1963 when I was filming Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," and just last week I appeared in a cameo for "The Ghost and the Whale," which was shot at Dillon Beach.

I've made many friends during my visits to Bodega Bay, and I can honestly say that there are no people more friendly and welcoming than those who live in Sonoma County. Whether it's wine tasting in Windsor, shopping in Santa Rosa, dining with friends in Petaluma, or just chatting with fans while signing autographs at The Tides Restaurant, I love it here.

That's why I'm hoping the good people of Sonoma County will help me right a terrible wrong. Last week, the Legislature of the State of Oklahoma voted to lift its ban on slaughtering horses for shipment to Europe and elsewhere. It awaits Gov. Mary Fallin's signature to become law.

With the horsemeat scandal in 13 European countries raging (and growing), this seems like the ultimate example of bad timing. Yet, the Oklahoma legislature claims that the slaughter of wild mustangs and horses is necessary — "humane euthanasia," they call it — but you can bet it is solely a money-motivated scheme. The truth is that those who lobbied for this law include people who own mineral rights on land with gas, oil, and in some cases, uranium. They want to see their land clear of these beautiful animals so that government regulations do not interfere with their questionable practices. No horses equals no federal investigators.

These "concerned" landowners trot out images of feeble, sickly horses with their rib cages poking through their hides to make you think these pathetic poster children are better off slaughtered so that they can feed people in Europe and Asia. But think about it. If you were one of those gourmands hungry for horsemeat, would seeing such old, bony horses have you sharpening your steak knife? Of course not. Young, healthy horses are what they want.

For the past two years, Vickery Eckhoff, a writer for Forbes Magazine, has been doing an excellent series of expos? on the fraudulent practices of those greedy landowners and lobbyists. She documented that 90 percent of the horses going to slaughter are "healthy and sound." This includes thoroughbred race horses that have outgrown their usefulness. She also cited a study showing that under 4 percent of the horses sold for slaughter were older than age 10.

Since horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. were banned until last year, U.S. horses traveled 24 hours or more, without food, water or rest, in livestock trucks designed for cattle, to Mexican or Canadian slaughter plants, using slaughter methods also designed for cattle. Horses cannot stand up straight in these conditions. It is pure torture. Now plans are under way to start butchering these magnificent creatures in the state of Oklahoma.

The Roar Foundation/The Shambala Preserve, the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, the Doris Day Animal League, Saving Americas Horses, Wild For Life Foundation and virtually every other animal rescue and relief organization stand in solidarity against this needless torture and slaughter. Please spread the word. Tell 25 friends about it, or 10, or just one. Governor Fallin's office is taking count of calls received pro or con on this issue.

It just takes one minute to call and tell the receptionist that you're calling to voice your opposition to the repeal of the horse slaughter ban. Gov. Fallin's office number is 405-521-2342. Or call and leave a message on the governor's voice mail at 405-522-8857. <NO>You can also email her through her website at www.ok.gov/governor/.

This is about as sad and heinous a situation I've come across. Please be part of the growing outrage against the unnecessary, inhumane slaughter of horses by making these urgent calls and e-mails. Your voice counts.


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