Sunday, December 6, 2009

Animals' Angels meets with European Commission to discuss horse meat imports from Mexico

AA met with representatives of the European Commission Food and Veterinary Office in Ireland on Nov 9 to discuss plans of action regarding horse meat imported from Mexico and animal welfare concerns documented by AA at the Mexican plants. AA is the first organization invited to Ireland to talk with the EU Commission about these issues. The meeting was also attended by the EU inspectors who had visited the plants in 2008 and 2009.

We were eager to learn from EU officials about a 180 day quarantine for horses intended for slaughter. The 180 day quarantine before slaughter would allow harmful drug residues in horse meat to dissipate. The issue of drug residue is of special concern to the EU and its consumers because American horses, unlike Mexican horses, commonly and regularly receive medications that are known carcinogens, etc.

However, the EU response was quite disappointing. EU officials informed us that pending further evaluation and discussion, they will accept sworn statements provided by kill buyers upon arrival at the slaughter plant declaring the horses have been drug free for 6 months.

The rumored 180 day quarantine is not currently in place, nor does the quarantine approach seem likely.

AA told EU officials this was unacceptable, that while the issue of meat tainted with drug residues certainly needs to be addressed, there is no way to verify the kill buyers' statements. True accountability is not achieved nor are safety and liability issues resolved. However at this point this is the EU plan.

On the other hand, we supplied EU officials with several pieces of information that have raised their level of concern very significantly. They were extremely surprised to learn that over 100,000 horses are exported for slaughter from the United States to Mexico annually. For the EU these numbers make the drug residue issue much more immediate than if the horses were almost all from Mexico as had been their belief.

AA also showed the EU representatives the investigation report and video of the inhumane treatment of horses at the Jerez slaughter plant. They saw horses left in the kill box while workers went to lunch, the slaughter of a horse with a broken leg, horses dragged by a wire around the leg into the plant, mothers with new born foals in the slaughter plant pens, downed horses and dead horses in the slaughter plant pens.

The officials and inspectors were extremely shocked by the evidence AA had obtained. They admitted that their inspectors had never seen anything like this during their visits at the plant. However, they said it is not surprising since due to international trade regulations they have to announce their inspections months in advance.

EU officials indicated that the evidence of inhumane treatment would be the basis for a formal complaint which then would lead to an official investigation at the Jerez plant. They were candidly appreciative and encouraged AA to share any new evidence with them quickly.

We believe that it was crucial to establish an open dialogue with the EU leaders since they have the power and the authority to change things fast - especially regarding the ongoing suffering at the plant.

We plan to meet with the Dutch and the Belgian importers, confront them with our findings and inform them of our meeting with EU officials. Pressure will be high because European consumers are to date almost completely unaware of the cruelties and dangers involved in the slaughter of horses for meat.

AA went ahead and filed formal complaints with the EU and the Mexican Secretary of Agriculture. We will unquestionably continue to work on this issue.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Unified Call for an Immediate Moratorium on Wild Horse & Burro Roundups

CHICAGO, (EWA) – On November 18, 2009, American Citizens and partners in Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa, delivered the following letter to the President, Congress and the Department of the Interior.

Contact: John Holland
Equine Welfare Alliance

Ginger Kathrens
The Cloud Foundation

A Unified Call for an Immediate Moratorium on Wild Horse & Burro RoundupsAnd a humane, fiscally responsible plan for preserving and protecting the iconic, free-roaming wild horses and burros of the American West
President Obama, Members of Congress and the Department of the Interior:

We, the undersigned, request major changes to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro program. This must begin with an immediate moratorium on all roundups. While we agree that the program is in dire need of reform, and we applaud your Administration's commitment to avoid BLM’s suggested mass-killing of horses, the plan outlined in October by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar raises numerous concerns. These include:
· Perpetuating the flawed assumption that wild horses and burros are overpopulating their Western ranges. In reality, the BLM has no accurate current inventory of the 37,000 wild horses and burros it claims remain on public lands. Independent analysis of BLM’s own numbers reveal there may be only 15,000 wild horses remaining on public lands.

· Continuing the mass removal of wild horses and burros from their rightful Western ranges: The BLM intends to spend over $30 million in Fiscal Year 2010 to capture more than 12,000 wild horses and burros. This stockpiling of horses continues even as an astounding 32,000 are already being held in government holding facilities at enormous taxpayer expense.

· Scapegoating wild horses and burros for range deterioration even though they comprise only a tiny fraction of animals and wildlife grazing our public lands. Far greater damage is caused by privately-owned livestock, which outnumber the horses more than 100 to 1.

· Moving wild horses and burros east off their Western homelands to “sanctuaries” in the east and Midwest at an initial cost of $96 million creates significant health concerns if animals adapted to western landscapes are managed on wet ground and rich grasses.

Removing tens of thousands of horses and burros from their legally-designated Western ranges and moving them into government-run facilities subverts the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-roaming Horse and Burro Act, which mandated that horses be preserved “where presently found.” A 2009 DC district court case held that “Congress did not authorize BLM to “manage” the wild horses and burros by corralling them for private maintenance or long-term care as non-wild free-roaming animals off the public lands."

We appreciate your Administration's recognition of the horses’ value as an ecotourism resource. However, the display of captive, non-reproducing herds in eastern pastures renders them little more than zoo exhibits, further discounting the contribution to our history and the future of the American West.

We believe that workable solutions to create a healthy “multiple use” of public rangelands, protect the ecological balance of all wildlife, and preserve America's wild horses and burros in their rightful, legally protected home can be achieved. We are calling on the Obama Administration to reform the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Management Program.

We ask that you reverse the current course and immediately take the following actions:

1) Place a moratorium on all roundups until accurate and independent assessments of population numbers and range conditions are made available and a final, long-term solution is formalized.

2) Restore protections included in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. Update existing laws that protect wild horses by reopening certain public lands to the mustangs and burros, thus decreasing the number in captivity. Return healthy wild horses and burros in holding to all available acres of public land designated primarily for their use in 1971. If these lands are not available, equivalent and appropriate western public lands should be added in their place.

3) Support federal grazing permit buybacks. Reduce livestock grazing and reanalyze appropriate management levels for herd management areas to allow for self-sustaining, genetically-viable herds to exist in the west.

4) Conduct Congressional hearings regarding the mismanagement of our wild herds and further investigate the inability of BLM to correct the shortcomings of the program as audited by the Government Accountability Office’s 1990, 1991 and 2008 reports.
Supported by the undersigned on November 16, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, NV, June 2006 – Your Tax-Dollars at Work

Despite a public outcry and pleas by humane groups to at least postpone this round-up, FWS proceeded in the summer heat, at the height of foaling season. Even the BLM doesn’t conduct helicopter round-ups during foaling season.
This days-old foal is struggling to keep up with the herd.

FWS would not allow the public within a two-mile range of the round-up site. Despite the secrecy, our investigators were able to document the process up close.

Several foals were injured, orphans separated from their mothers in the chaos. Some mares reportedly aborted their fetuses under the stress of the round-up.

Some foals, exhausted by the chase and unable to follow the herd, were left hog-tied in the desert heat for wranglers to pick up later.

Others were just lost in the chaos, left behind to fend for themselves. Wranglers reportedly managed to locate eight of these orphan foals on Friday (the round-up had started on Monday). Five of them were already dead. (See photo above) The three survivors were taken by a good Samaritan to a veterinarian for emergency care.

It is unknown how many others, too young to survive on their own, died on the range. Mares could be seen in the holding pens showing signs of recently giving birth but with their newborns unaccounted for.

FWS got nervous and became more secretive as the process unfolded. However, a vet report by Dr. Krebs, who treated the three survivors, confirms that these foals were left for days alone on the range


The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign- AWHPC

America’s wild horses are being eradicated in violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act, which protects them as “living symbols” of our Nation's spirit. From over 2 million in the 1800s, fewer than 25,000 remain on our public lands. There are now more wild horses in government holding pens than remain in the wild. Still, the round-ups continue, and a recent change in the law opens the door to thousands being sent to slaughter.

Although in-the-wild management would save millions of tax-dollars, special interests have been successful in pressuring the government to systematically remove wild horses from public lands - specifically corporate cattle interests who want our horses replaced with private cattle for subsidized grazing.

AWHPC is coordinating a letter-writing campaign: In addition to signing this petition, it is important that you please send individual letters to your federal legislators calling for a Congressional inquiry into the government’s wild horse management practices. Tell them that our national heritage does not belong on European dinner tables.

Please sign petition here:
For more information and to sign up for email updates, please visit

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Guilty by Association

Well, I was going to do a post about “emotional women” ("The AQHA leadership has always been pro-slaughter, and when their own polls revealed their membership wasn't, their own president blamed the results on ‘emotional women.’”) of whom I’m one, but after an email chat I instead opted to talk about the following...You know, it’s hard enough to think about horses getting slaughtered to make room for more, more, more (as in the AQHA making more money via more registration fees and more membership fees by getting rid of what's already here), much less realize an association as massive and well known as the AQHA—one who actually took steps to amend some of their rules to the benefit of horses... or was that only to quell public outcry?—have so little regard for their breed and all the regard for the almighty dollar that they advocate it. That begs the question: When they (the AQHA leadership) shot themselves in the foot because of it, did they also paint targets on their members, too? Let’s think about this. In the court of public opinion, owners of Quarter Horses/members of AQHA, and the association itself, are one and the same. So, guilt by association. An example might be the anti-fur movement, where folks don’t just target furriers but the individuals wearing it, to the point were people who owned it (even the homeless!) wouldn’t be caught dead in it. Now, instead of fur, it’s horse slaughter advocated by the Quarter Horse Association—the very association that’s suppose to tout and protect the breed, not push for the slaughter of it. What will the public think of it’s members now? They’ll never hear about the polls, or who agreed or disagreed with it, and they won’t stop to ask, either. One and the same, remember? Members are AQHA. Members did this. Members are the heartless bastards who will ride it AND eat it, baby. Hi ho Silver... and don’t forget the ketchup. Let’s take a moment to let this sink in. Can you say “manipulated” (as in even the pro-slaughter members were manipulated into thinking this was a good thing when all the while it was a money making venture from the beginning, something where everyone (including the cattle ranchers who are all set up and eager to turn into horse meat ranchers) wins EXCEPT the horse), folks? I know you can. I hate being manipulated. I hate being told one thing and find out it’s a whole other ballgame (or is that ‘market‘?). I hate being guilty by association, and I particularly hate that the Quarter Horse association painted it's own members as targets. By the way, how much do you think the AQHA cares about their breed when they’re advocating slaughtering them? Just curious. Oh. And while we‘re here, let this sink in too.And so it begins (note the blog’s name... and good on the blog owner for coming up with it and speaking out!). But that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I am, is pointing out that a really bad situation CAN get far worse. Yep, seems everyone’s jumping on the band wagon, including cattlemen who are being encouraged to see horse slaughter as yet another opportunity (others before being buffalo and elk, though with horses it’s a different ballgame, horses being an already established market—if they can’t sell it here, they’ll just ship it to Europe) to make a buck.So what's the alternative to slaughter? Stop backyard indiscriminate breeding. Stop thinking of horses as disposable. You bought it so you look after it for life. If you can't, then sell it to someone reputable who can. And, God forbid, if something happens to the horse to necessitate it's death, be strong enough to euthanize it instead of shipping it. At least that's my opinion.
Posted by Hawke at 9:42 AM

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Horse slaughter dream a financial nightmare

Horse slaughter gut piles at Natural Valley Farms, Canada
Contacts: John Holland
Vicki Tobin
Horse slaughter dream a financial nightmare
CHICAGO, (EWA) – The dream of the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) and its affiliate the MQHA (Montana Quarter Horse Association) to bring horse slaughter back to the US may have just been dealt what may be its death blow. The blow came not from anti-slaughter advocates, nor public revulsion, nor Congress, but from a horse slaughter industry insider whose op-ed, Meat plant: a cautionary tale, appeared on April 30th in the Western Producer, a subscription-only Canadian online animal agriculture journal.
“Natural Valley Farms died the day the decision makers chose to kill horses”, says Henry Skjerven, an investor and director of the defunct Natural Valley Farms (NVF) slaughter complex in Saskatchewan, Canada. Skjerven tells the story of how NVF, which had originally been built to process cattle during the BSE crisis, ended in a $42 million financial disaster following its decision to kill horses for the Velda Group of Belgium.
The story broke just as the AQHA and Stan Weaver of the MQHA, were celebrating the passage of Montana bill (HB 418).
On April 5, EWA broke the news that the plant had been closed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in December. In his article, Skjerven refers to the plant’s confrontational interaction with the CFIA over the plant’s “composting” and other issues. Unlike beef that can be used in pet food, horse byproducts must be disposed of properly because they contain substances such as the wormer, Ivermectin, which can cause fatal encephalitis in some breeds of dogs.
Blood disposal appears to have been equally problematic for NVF as with other horse slaughter plants. Not only do horses have twice the quantity of blood as cows, but the blood is notoriously difficult to treat. The bacterial agents used in standard cattle digesters fail to provide acceptable discharge levels because of antibiotics often found in horse blood. As a result, pollution follows the horse slaughter industry where ever it goes.
During debate over HB 418, the Montana Senate Agriculture committee dismissed evidence of these problems as anti-slaughter propaganda. Even the testimony of former Kaufman, Texas mayor Paula Bacon was ignored when she told of blood rising into people’s bathtubs in her town. But unfortunately for NVF, the CFIA was not so easily assuaged.
Even Butcher has admitted that any horse slaughter plant that is built in the US will have to be operated by an EU group like Velda because the horse meat market is in Europe and they control it. Now Velda needs a new home, but in his op-ed Skjerven, says, “horse slaughter never brought a single minute of profitability to the company.”
In the end, it may not matter that HB 418 is unconstitutional, nor that a horse slaughter plant in the US could not export its horse meat without USDA inspectors, nor that the industry has committed a thousand sins against horses and the environment. If investors in a horse slaughter plant cannot be comfortable in knowing they will make a profit, there will be no plant built.
If Stan Weaver and the AQHA want horse slaughter they may have to do the killing themselves.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hundreds of Mustangs Rescued from Nebraska Ranch Ready for New Homes
Rescue Agencies and Volunteers Continue to Care for the ‘Nebraska 200’

CONTACT: Jerry Finch 409-682-6621

1 May 2009
Alliance, NE – More than two hundred neglected horses and burros found at a Morrill County ranch are now available for adoption through Habitat for Horses, a Texas-based equine protection organization.

On April 22nd, more than two hundred horses and burros were seized from Three Strikes Ranch, a private mustang facility just outside Alliance, Nebraska. An additional 74 animals were confirmed dead. Necropsy results on a number of these animals revealed significant fat and muscle atrophy, which is consistent with starvation.

Jason Maduna, the ranch’s owner, was arrested on one count of felony animal cruelty, but additional charges are expected. The animals are now recuperating at their temporary home at the Bridgeport Rodeo Grounds. The Humane Society of the United States, Habitat for Horses and Front Range Equine Rescue have been working alongside the Bureau of Land Management and area veterinarians to feed, treat, and assess the 220 animals, including a number of foals born since the seizure. According to Jerry Finch of Habitat for Horses, “the outpouring of support from the local community is humbling. From home-cooked meals for the volunteers, to hay provided by the local Farm Bureaus, we could not ask for more or better support.”

Of the 220 animals at the Fairgrounds, 22 have been identified by their owners and will be returned to them. The remaining animals are available for placement with qualified individuals or groups. Those interested, should contact Hillary Wood of Front Range Equine Rescue at 719-481-1490. The horses have all received a negative Coggins and have been dewormed, vaccinated and microchipped. Finch strongly cautions that they are looking for those with experience in handling and training wild mustangs. According to Finch, "these are not back yard ponies."

A dedicated website has been setup which includes photographs and descriptions of the available animals, as well as forms and contact numbers. For more information, please visit:

Donations are still needed to help cover the cost of medical care. Credit card donations can be made online at Donations can also be mailed to: Habitat for Horses, P.O. Box 213, Hitchcock, TX 77563. Please notate on your check and/or credit card donations that it is for "Nebraska 200 ". Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
Habitat for Horses (HfH) is a not-for-profit equine protection agency committed to the prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of neglected, abused and homeless horses. The largest organization of its kind in North America, HfH operates a rehabilitation ranch in Texas. The organization has taken a leadership role in horse protection issues and has been instrumental in developing and promoting legislation to eliminate the slaughter of American horses. To learn more, visit

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Louisiana contact Bill Cassidy and John Fleming

Next week the committee on Natural Resources will hold a markup on the bill HR 1018 on April 29th, next Wednesday, at 10am. What does that mean?

It means that amendments can be added and once that process is done there will be a vote to; recommend the bill to the full House (support it), hold for further study or not recommend it (not support it). Once done the bill will either die or be moved to the House for a vote.

It is incredibly important that this bill pass. If it does it could prevent things like what happened up in Nebraska at the 3 Strikes Ranch as it would expand the land that the mustangs can live on, it would return some mustangs back to the wild and it would repeal the 3 strikes rule (Burns Amendment).

Members of the Committee on Natural Resources

U.S. House of Representatives
111th Congress1324 Longworth House Office Building(202) 225-6065 Fax: (202) 225-1931

MR. NICK J. RAHALL, II, West Virginia, Chairman
MR. DOC HASTINGS, Washington, Ranking Republican Member (Ratio 29-20)

Dale E. Kildee, Michigan
Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, American Samoa
Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii
Frank Pallone, Jr., New Jersey
Grace F. Napolitano, California
Rush D. Holt, New Jersey
Raúl M. Grijalva, Arizona
Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam
Jim Costa, California
Dan Boren, Oklahoma
Gregorio "Kilili" Sablan, Mariana Islands
Martin Heinrich, New Mexico
George Miller, California
Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts
Peter A. DeFazio, Oregon
Maurice D. Hinchey, New York
Donna M. Christensen, Virgin Islands
Diana DeGette, Colorado
Ron Kind, Wisconsin
Lois Capps, California
Jay Inslee, Washington
Joe Baca, California
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, South Dakota
John P. Sarbanes, Maryland
Carol Shea-Porter, New Hampshire
Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts
Frank Kratovil, Jr., Maryland
Pedro R. Pierluisi, Puerto RicoDon Young, Alaska
Elton Gallegly, California
John J. Duncan, Jr., Tennessee
Jeff Flake, Arizona
Henry E. Brown, Jr., South Carolina
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington
Louie Gohmert, Texas
Rob Bishop, Utah
Bill Shuster, Pennsylvania
Doug Lamborn, Colorado
Adrian Smith, Nebraska
Robert J. Wittman, Virginia
Paul C. Broun, Georgia
John Fleming, Louisiana Wash. DC Office(202) 225-2777 Fax: (202) 225-8039
Mike Coffman, Colorado
Jason Chaffetz, Utah
Cynthia M. Lummis, Wyoming
Tom McClintock, California
Bill Cassidy, Louisiana Wash. DC Office (202) 225-3901 Fax: (202) 225-7313

To find their contact info visit

Shelley Sawhook
PresidentAmerican Horse Defense Fund