Friday, February 2, 2007

Barbaro: Beautiful Animal or Valuable Property?

Yes, I was saddened about the passing of this horse. I was saddened because it was a beautiful, strong animal. Also, felt the sadness you felt abut the amount of money and expertise being used for this horse. I guess I've been reflecting on whether this was a beloved horse or property in the owner's eyes. Possibly, probably, both. I didn't see the price tag for all the vet care, but I'm sure it was millions. A small price to pay when the owners would get millions for his sperm, as a stud.

In my veterinary work, I often encounter people maintain that it’s obscene to spend so much on pets when there are people in need. It may seem ridiculous to them that pets are getting hip replacements, root canals, kidney transplants. But these are someone's beloved animal. An animal that has given so much love, the owner wants to give back and is able financially to give back.

Some people spend thousands on boats, cars, trucks, etc. There is so much wealth in this country it IS obscene that people around the world have no health care, not enough food or water. I watch the City of Madison guys flushing the hydrants around our neighborhood so we can have clear water, low in manganese or whatever. That results in 40-60,000 gallons of potable water down the sewer. Each time they flush! Yes, it’s obscene. Perhaps Barbaro is just one of those manifestations. I once made the comment to a friend that we here on the East Side are incredibly wealthy compared to the rest of the world. She didn't get it. Most Americans don't get it.

The American Thoroughbred race horse is bred to do what it really fast. So, you've got this Michael Jordan of horses, 1200 pounds on four thin legs. Compare the thickness and length of a racehorse’s leg to that of a zebra and you'll see how our genetic intervention has created an animal that is almost a broken leg waiting to happen. Maybe that's obscene. I don't know.

Just a few thoughts. Thanks for yours.

The article that follows, from the Boston Globe, presents a different view on Barbaro.

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