The name of this popular hormone drug stands for PREgnant MARes urINe.  While that gives a pretty good idea as to its source, it doesn’t provide much detail about the harvesting process.

Premarin, used by millions of women to help alleviate symptoms of menopause, has also been associated with such side effects as:  cancer, heart attack, blood clots and stroke.  There is an even lesser known consequence, and that is the egregious harm it inflicts upon the animals from whom it is harvested.

Pregnant mares are confined to crowded stalls, for seven months, where they cannot move or lie down.  During this time, they are attached to a pulley system that collects their urine for the estrogen.  In order to extract the maximum and purest potency of estrogen, these mares are limited to only enough water to survive, placing both mother and unborn foal in danger of illness, dehydration or possible death.

Once they’ve given birth, the mothers are sent back out to pasture to be impregnated again, while their newborns go straight to feedlots, frightened and screaming for their mothers, to be fattened up in preparation for eventual slaughter.  Thus, the mothers are not even given the opportunity to spend time with their foal as it is ripped away and sent to its own unfortunate fate.  Doesn’t sound like much of a life for either, does it?

Pfizer, the company that produces the drug, ultimately sells the fattened foals to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, where these docile animals will be butchered and their meat sold in Europe and Asia.

The transport process is harsh, as the terrified animals are whipped and prodded electrically into the trailers, with no food or water provided.  They are crammed with others in an intolerable environment that can reach 110 degrees, and where babies have succumbed to the heat.  These are perhaps the luckiest ones, as what awaits the others is pure horror.

At the slaughter plant, the frightened foals (and the older, used-up horses that are no longer profitable for Pfizer) are crowded into holding pens, where they can hear the screams from the slaughterhouse or smell the blood from those who have gone before them.

Finally, they are herded single file through a narrow entrance, as they are forced to make their way to their brutal, unspeakable demise.  They panic as they try to keep their balance while walking on a floor slick with feces, blood and urine.  One by one, they are shoved into the kill chute; each one will face one of three methods of torture

1. The hydraulic bolt gun, meant to stun the animal, rendering him unconscious but still alive. The worker must aim at a small specific area between the horse’s ears and squeeze the trigger, releasing a 4” steel  bolt into the skull.

2.Workers might use a rifle, standing only feet away, to provide an instant death. However, if the frightened animal is flailing and trying to escape, it will require multiple shots.  Horses often receive nonlethal wounds to the face and continue to suffer until the final shot is rendered that will end their terror and suffering.

3.The puntilla knife, known as the worst way for the animal to die, is used to stab the horse in the neck and spine, causing untold agony. The animal is rendered paralyzed and helpless, lying in its blood and fluids.

Once the horses can no longer resist, they are then dragged to the kill floor, where chains are attached to their hind legs and they are hoisted, upside down.  This makes it easy for workers to slit their throats in order to bleed them out, as their hearts still beat in terror.

The meat workers can then proceed to saw off hooves, legs, and heads; and skin and butcher the animals.  Not a very fitting end for a majestic animal upon whose back we built our country.

If anyone is horrified enough about this unjustice, there are actions we can take.  Women currently on Premarin can choose more natural (and safer) alternatives to this drug.

Folks can contact Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company to demand they end the torture.  Phone number:  1-800-879-3477, or go to www.pfizer.com to email them.

Contact the Dream Chaser Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation organization to learn more: http://dreamchaserhorserescue.rescuegroup.org/

By Annoula Wylderich