Brandy Forgeron 0

Change the Classification for Horses from Livestock to Companion Animal

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Horses are no longer used for the purpose of transporting individuals and product across great distances. Horses are now used in sports such as racing, and as pleasure and companion animals. The definition of a companion animal, according to the ASPCA is "domesticated or domestic-bred animals whose physical, emotional, behavioral and social needs can be readily met as companions in the home, or in close daily relationship with humans". In essence, they are animals who are kept for the purpose of companionship and not for economic reasons. The ASPCA also lists the following species to be suitable as companion animals: "dogs, cats, horses..." Dogs are classified as "companion animals" and have all of the above traits, but they are working and service animals. Dogs can be used as assistants for the blind and the Greyhound breed continues to be raced. Theoretically, the same status can be applied to horses. In this day and age, horses mostly serve as companion animals, but they also serve as working animals. Same with dogs. Now, let us consider the fact that as far as I can tell, there is no universal definition of a "livestock" animal. A few definitions list livestock animals as "domestic animals kept for use on a farm and raised for sale and profit". Yes, horses can be raised for sale and profit only. However, this is not the main nor the only purpose of horses in today's society. While animals such as pigs and cattle are raised purely for the purpose of sale, horses are not. Horses are bred for the purpose of profit in some cases, but also companionship. In Canada, "Horses are generally categorized as livestock in Canada. Alberta’s Animal Protection Regulations include horses within the definition of livestock. Other provinces define horses similarly, as does the federal Health of Animals Regulations." According to another source "in many jurisdictions, the legal definition [of livestock] is any animal that has value to a farmer or other person. Such animals may include goats, sheep, beef or dairy cattle, horses, dogs, hogs or pigs, donkeys or mules...kept in an inventory that may be used for food, fiber or pleasure." Now, take a minute to read that over once, even twice. Did you catch that dogs are also listed in the definition? My next question then is, does anyone really consider a dog to be an animal that falls under the definition of livestock? My guess is that 99.9% of individuals do not. So again, we can apply the same logic to horses as we do to dogs. Also, dogs as companion animals has a huge benefit to society in terms of helping the blind and disabled, being protectors of home and family and providing companionship. Horses, ponies and mules do much the same. There are many instances of horses being used as guides for the blind such as with The Guide Horse Foundation. In addition, horses are used as therapy in places such as The North Fraser Therapeutic Riding Association for autistic and handicapped children and adults. Lastly, anyone who has ever owned a horse in their life knows that they make just as good companions as dogs do. So why should they be classified any differently? If dogs can still be shown, raced and worked and be labeled as "companion animals", I see it as a double-standard that horses are the same but are still considered as livestock. If we go back to the initial definition (which came up multiple times) about the definition of livestock being animals bred for profit or sale and on a farm. Let me remind readers of a little thing called "puppy mills" or "puppy farms". Puppy mills are nothing more than dogs being bred for profit! They are also essentially a farming scheme for dogs! So, if this exists, among everything else I mentioned, then why aren't dogs considered livestock? The classification of horses as livestock and to be bred for profit lands hundreds of horses in horse rescues in Canada such as J&M Acres Horse Rescue, New Stride Thoroughbred Foundation and Greener Pastures Standardbred Society. You walk your dog. You ride your horse. What is the difference? ~Thank you Amy Lizee ~


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