Help save thousands of gentle horses
Adapted from PETA factsheet by Lucy Kovaliv
I recently discovered that the key ingredient in Premarin, a drug used by millions of menopausal women, is the urine from pregnant mares. Premarin is an estrogen-replacement therapy (ERT) drug that represents 80% of the ERT market worldwide. I was absolutely shocked and disgusted to learn about the unnecessary suffering and environmental degradation that results from this practice.
Horses are gentle, intelligent, caring animals. Anyone familiar with horses, or any animal for that matter, would, I'm sure, be revolted by the cruel life that these mares lead.
The mares are impregnated over and over, for up to 20 years, or until their bodies give out. For six months every year, rubber urine-collection bags, which can cause chafing and sores, are strapped around their groins and attached to the ceiling of their stalls. The mares are strapped into their stalls by harnesses with short tethers. They cannot turn around, or lie down comfortably, and can only take a step or two forward or backward. Given their lack of exercise and cramped living conditions, the horses are prone to swollen joints and other leg problems. What's more, Pregnant Mares' Urine (PMU) farmers often restrict the mares' access to water, so that their urine is more concentrated. How anyone can find this kind of treatment anything other than torturous is beyond me!
The foals are considered a mere byproduct. Some are used for breeding and some replace their worn-out mothers on the "pee lines," but the majority are torn from their mothers' side after only four months. Most are purchased by "kill buyers," who fatten them up for a year, and either ship them live to Europe and Asia, where they end up on dinner plates or slaughter them for dog food.
Approximately 70,000 beautiful and gentle mares are confined on more than 450 PMU farms in North Dakota and Canada, with the majority in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.
At this very moment, these loving mares are being herded back into their cramped, dark stalls. For the next six months, their urine will be collected. In the spring, they will give birth to roughly 50,000 foals. Most of their babies will be slaughtered!
Premarin (Prempro and Premphase) is manufactured in Brandon, Manitoba, at Ayerst Organics, Ltd, a division of Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals. Thanks to the company's relentless advertising, Premarin is being swallowed by more than 8,000,000 North American women each year. Analysts estimate international sales of Premarin - now nearly $1,000,000,000 each year - could triple by 2010.
In response to this growing demand, Ayerst Organics is expanding its operations.
But the manufacture of Premarin raises very real environmental concerns. In
Brandon, Manitoba, Ayerst's dumping station for animal waste could overload
the city's sewage treatment plant - in turn, threatening the water quality of
the Assiniboine River, a source of drinking water for thousands of Canadians.
That's not stopping Ayerst, which is planning to build a new factory in Manitoba
with partial funding from the Canadian government and your tax dollars.
That means thousands more mares may suffer, and thousands more foals may die. In fact, Premarin and the entire PMU industry are not only cruel, but also completely unnecessary! Unpleasant effects of menopause can often be managed with plant-based or synthetic estrogens that are adaptable to the human body and very safe. Estinyl, Climara, Estraderm, Estrace, Ogen, and Tace are all safe and effective alternatives to Premarin. In addition, Estrace, Estraderm, and Ogen have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in preventing osteoporosis (a claim Wyeth-Ayerst also makes about its products).
Most women simply aren't aware of these issues and Wyeth-Ayerst is counting on that fact to keep racking up its profits - at the expense of thousands of animal lives.
Please pledge never to take Premarin and spread the news to friends and family. Write to Minister John Manley to protest the governments funding of Ayerst Organics expansion, and to demand the PMU industry is shut down. The address is: The Honourable John Manley, Department of Western Diversification, House of Commons, 235 Queen Street, 11th floor E, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5.
A little horse history
Like humans, the horse, or equus caballus, has resulted from a prolonged process of evolution. This history is recorded with extraordinary fidelity and continuity in fossilized remains unearthed mainly in North America and northern Eurasia. The earliest evidence antedate those of homo sapiens by something like sixty million years.
As a result of years of domestication and breeding, the modern day horse is taller and sleeker than their ancestor equus caballus. In the 19th century, equus caballus was considered to have been extinct for thousands of years. However, in the spring of 1879 a Russian explorer came upon a herd of unfamiliar animals while travelling through central Asia. As far as anyone can determine, what he discovered was equus caballus in their original or natural condition.
Donald Braider, The Life, History and Magic of The Horse, 1973