No matter your position on equine slaughter, there is a question in the minds of horse owners of whether a penetrating captive bolt is a “humane” form of euthanasia for horses. Many individuals and groups are dismissing captive bolt as inhumane, even if they have not researched the method, have not discussed it with someone knowledgeable in equine euthanasia, or haven’t witnessed it first-hand (not via video, since we all know how clever people can be with computers; 2004 Oscar winner “Lord of the Rings” is proof of that technology). There are other considerations: Since cattle are also killed by captive bolt in slaughter houses, does using the “inhumane” stamp on it for horses potentially give animal activists a leg up for banning its use in cattle? Will it prevent use of gunshot or captive bolt on non-slaughter horses?
Some horse owners and veterinarians feel that chemical euthanasia is the most humane means of ending a horse’s life. Of course, that is not possible if the meat is going to be used for human or animal consumption (such as at zoos or for fox hounds at the hunt). The American Veterinary Medical Association has deemed it humane for horses.
While it wasn’t a scientific poll, The Horse asked veterinarians and researchers from around the world to comment on captive bolt euthanasia. The overwhelming response was that it is humane. Some comments appear on page 26; following are others.
“I have seen it used hundreds of times on cattle and horses and know in my mind that it is very humane and much more instantaneous than (chemical) euthanasia. The animal literally knows