Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A note from Sen. Landrieu

Thank you again for signing on as a citizen co-sponsor of my legislation to stop the slaughter of thousands of American horses. Though a recent court ruling has curbed horse slaughter in our country, these beautiful animals remain vulnerable to being shipped across our borders to slaughterhouses everyday. That's why I introduced the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act to ban the export of our horses for slaughter -- and thanks to people like you, over 4,500 people have joined me and co-sponsored my bill to protect our horses!

Now, it's time to bring the attention of my fellow Senators to this often-ignored but important issue. Already, 38 Senators have joined me in co-sponsoring the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act -- and with your help, we can convince even more of of them to safeguard our horses.

Click here to email your Senators, urging them to co-sponsor the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act today!

I'm proud to be sponsor of a bipartisan solution to the needless and inhumane slaughter of horses. Every year, tens of thousands are crammed into overheated, double-decker trailers and transported across our borders. Many do not even survive the journey, and the ones that do are slaughtered in unnecessarily brutal ways. This practice must be stopped -- but I need your help to do it.

With a crowded legislative calendar and the usual distractions of a presidential election year, it has been difficult to bring the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act to a floor vote in the Senate. But together, we can finally address putting an end to horse slaughter.

Click here to email your Senators, urging them to co-sponsor the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act today!

I'm committed to fighting against this despicable practice until the Senate passes a law to protect our horses -- but I can't do it alone, and I'll need your help to get the job done.

Thank you so much for your support,

Landrieu signature
Mary Landrieu
U.S. Senator

P.S. It will only take a minute of your time to email your Senators -- we've provided a letter template for you, and we will automatically deliver your email to the appropriate Senators. Click here to email your Senators, urging them to co-sponsor the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act today!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Win in Keeping Cavel Closed

The Supreme Court has decided not to hear an appeal by the Cavel slaughter plant in Illinois.

The plant was forced to close when the Illinois state legislature passed a law prohibiting the slaughter of horses. Cavel filed a case stating the law was un-Constitutional. The Federal Court allowed the plant to operate while they were deciding the case. However, the lower court upheld the law forcing the plant to close in 2007. Cavel had hoped that the Supreme Court would overturn a decision, but in rejecting to hear the case they have basically agreed with the lower court's decision and Cavel will not reopen.

While this is incredibly good news for those who support a ban on horse slaughter it isn't the end of horse slaughter. Horses are now being shipped to Mexico and Canada where their slaughter methods are horrific for the animals and making it even harder for owner to recover their stolen horses or horses obtained through fraud.

In Texas, where their law was finally upheld and 2 slaughter plants were closed, they are using state facilities to ship horses into Mexico. While the majority of Texans are opposed to the slaughter of horses and stood up for their 1949 law to be upheld, state resources are still being used to promote horse slaughter.

In California where horse slaughter is illegal, some auctions are openly selling horses to kill buyers and the law is being ignored and these horses are going to slaughter in Mexico.

Feedlots are springing up in the north to funnel horses to Canada.

The answer? Ask Congress to pass pending legislation to protect our American Horses. Ask your Representatives to support and push for the passage of HR 503 and your Senators to support and call for a vote on S 311. These bills have been stalled for far too long and the people deserve a vote on the issue. No other bill with the support these bills have has ever been denied a vote for as long as these bills have.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Truth About the AQHA and Horse Slaughter

More often than not this forum is me posting information that I or others from the American Horse Defense Fund (AHDF) have collected and our articles. It isn't that there aren't a number of other great folks working on the issue, it's just that they usually have a forum themselves to say what they want to say. However, there are times when other's work is compelling and should be shared, especially when it's reach is limited.

There has long been speculation about the connection between the AQHA and their promotion of horse slaughter. We know that PMU breeders worked out a deal with the AQHA to register the foals that are produced as a result of the PMU industry (usually a cross between a Quarter Horse and a Draft). The AQHA profited by registering more horses and the PMU industry could profit by selling these foals for more money to individuals and introduce a preferred breed for the slaughter industry.

There are similar connections to most if not all of the organizations who support slaughter. Such as the AQHA sponsorship of certain AVMA and AAEP programs. See the following links (This page shows that they fund many AAEP research programs and scholarships for vet students)

Anyway, enjoy this article by Duane Burright on the AQHA and their connection to horse slaughter.


This article appeared online on the HorseTalk of New Zealand website on May 22, 2008 (see

Quarter horse policies part of the problem, not the solution

An opinion piece by Duane L. Burright

A few weeks ago, I wrote an opinion piece which argued why the opponents of the American
Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA) are wrong. Among these opponents is the American
Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), whose standard argument against the horse slaughter ban is
the old "unwanted horses" rhetoric that many people are familiar with. If you look at any of its
public statements on the AHSPA, the AQHA always acts as though it is concerned about horse
welfare. Since this organization keeps saying that we will be overrun by "unwanted horses" if the
horse slaughter business is shut down, one would think that they would be doing something to
keep the horse population in check.

But you'd be wrong.

The reality is that the AQHA recently registered their 5 millionth foal (see link: and that in 2007 the AQHA reported 140,000 registered foals. That is almost five times the number of registered Thoroughbred foals for the same year and is very close to the number of American
horses that were slaughtered in 2007 which, according to US Department of Agriculture records,
totals 122,459.

So how is it that so many American quarter horses are brought into the world in one year?

Three words answer this question, VOLUME VOLUME VOLUME, especially since the AQHA
endorses the use of artificial insemination. Using this method, a quarter horse (QH) breeder can
likely get 8 to 10 of his or her mares pregnant with just one visit to the farm stallion. Think about
this for a moment. The AQHA keeps arguing that slaughter is needed to prevent the United
States from being overrun by "unwanted horses" while QH breeders are busy churning out
140,000 registered foals in a year's time. Now if there is truly an "unwanted horse problem", why in the world does the AQHA appear to be sanctioning what could be referred to as "puppy mill" type breeding practices?

Quarter Horse breeders can make good coin on the horses which meet the breed group's
conformation standards, as can be seen by Googling "Quarter Horses For Sale" (see link: As can be seen, the
average quarter horse can fetch a good price which targets the well-to-do horse owner.
But what about the rejects, the horses which don't meet those "perfect" conformation standards of the breed? Records show that quarter horses seem to show up at the slaughter plants in very high numbers as compared to other breeds ( It would appear
large quarter horse breeding ranches dispose of horses that don't meet conformation standards by sending them directly to slaughter since they cannot sell the animal for the prices seen in my web search. This is the fate that their burned out breeding stock meets as well.
It does not appear to matter to them that many of these horses might make a good, cheap trail
horse for someone who doesn't have a lot of money. These breeders have no interest in selling
what could be considered a "grade" horse.

While doing some research I came across an article on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection
(APHIS) / USDA website ( describing an outbreak of equine viral arteritis which originated at a large-scale quarter horse breeding facility in 2006. Mare management practices at the affected QH farms were described as an "intensive 'feed lot' system."

When you think of a "feed lot" you think of a place where livestock such as cattle or hogs are
fattened before slaughter. I certainly wouldn't characterize a feedlot with raising horses, but then I'm not the typical large-scale quarter horse breeder. When you consider that a former brand inspector at the now defunct Dallas Crown horse slaughterhouse described the quarter horse as the "slaughterer's breed" due to their bulky conformation and the records cited above, the feedlot reference becomes ironic.

Think about the profits quarter horse breeders can make by putting their industry's cast-offs on
the dinner plates of the Belgians with horse meat fetching $20 + per pound in that country. It's a
profitable little side business for them. Since the AQHA is the mouthpiece of these breeders,
perhaps this is the real reason the group is opposed to the AHSPA.

The position of the AQHA becomes clearer when you consider its support of practices that
encourage the spewing out of thousands of new foals in a year's time while repeatedly claiming
that slaughter is necessary to humanely dispose of "unwanted horses." I'd be willing to bet that
the "unwanted horse problem" the AQHA and AVMA keep repeating like a broken record was
really fabricated in a cigar-smoke-filled lobbyists' office - the type of place where Charles
Stenholm (see link: and now Conrad Burns,
known for the infamous "Burns Amendment" which basically gutted the Wild Horse and Burro
Protection Act of 1971 (see link:, make their living.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Anniversary of Bel-Tex Rescue

One year ago, on June 2,2007, a plan that had been worked on for several months paid off. The Friends of Barbaro and a few other individuals, including myself, had been working on saving a number of horses at a slaughter plant. The work began while one of the plants in Texas was open and culminated when they had closed but were shipping horses to Mexico. We managed to save a large number of pregnant mares and very young foals. Many of these horses ended up at an AHDF foster facility where nearly all have been adopted.

At the time we couldn't tell their story because it could have been dangerous for the volunteers who pulled it off (and we still will not give too much of that information) and it may have endangered the horses still on the lot and those we had hoped to save later. However, some of the information did slip out and any further rescues from the lot are impossible. So, now their whole story can be told. I can say that the funds raised by the FOBs was incredible and the dedication of those who worked tirelessly to save these animals was awe inspiring and I am incredibly proud to have been a part of the rescue efforts.

These horses were all headed to slaughter in Mexico from the Bel-Tex feedlot in Morton, Texas. The only thing that saved their lives was the fact that most were so heavily pregnant that they were in danger of giving birth on the trip, or that they had just given birth. These supposedly unwanted horses were incredibly difficult to save as it is Bel-Tex's policy not to release a horse once it hits their property, they must be slaughtered.

An agent was employed to negotiate the purchase of the mares and foals. A price was set for a small number under the pretenses that the horses were going into a breeding program. The original agreement was for 12 pregnant mares. Later the agent negotiated for even more horses. The original price was $500 a pair (mare and foal) but the final price for the horses ranged between $350 and $900 each. After the first load was removed the agent told the manager that the buyer would take as many as possible and as many horses as they would release were saved.

On 6-2 the first load of 12 horses were loaded on trailers to head to a foster home where they were separated and sent on to rescues across the country. 28 horses headed to the AHDF foster home the following week.

When the mares and some young foals arrived we had a vet check them out carefully. That is when we discovered our first problem. While most were in good condition, nearly all had strangles. This condition is not unusual at feedlots, most horses arrive in good health and contract it because of the poor mangement of the horses at the lots. In our case this meant that the foster home was quarantined until completely cleared. This took about 2 months. During this time we could not adopt out any horses.

This created a problem with finances as we had counted on early adoptions to help pay for the care of those needing longer term care. The FOBs paid for the first few round bales, but other than that there was no funds for long term care or the extensive vet bills. The bills mounted and we received less than $100 in donations during that time to help with the costs.

Once the horses were healthy and cleared by the vet we could begin to evaluate the horses and build back up their health for adoptions. Finally the adoptions began. Some could not be adopted because of their advanced pregnancy. We also found out that a few incredibly lucky horses were not even pregnant, they were just heavy animals! We were told that employees at the feedlot were breeding the mares to increase their weight. Thankfully it appears that the mares were not properly bred and there were no pregnancies from these actions.

Nearly all of the horses were handleable or had some training. While a few had little to no handling, all left with the ability to lead and have their hooves trimmed. All this from our foster home who was working with a fairly large herd with little to no assistance. All of the horses were/are beautiful. All (except for two older mares) were between the ages of newborn to 7. Nearly all were in decent to good condition until they got sick and recovered their health quickly, although a couple did take longer to get back into good condition. All have had or are getting training except an older wild mare.

A year later we have 3 mares from that group to find homes for. One is an older wild mare (around 20) and we are still looking for the best sanctuary situation for her. Our foster home reports that potential adopters are asking when we will get in more horses!

We are still accepting donations to assist with paying the bills we incurred with the Bel-Tex horses and the 14 mustangs that followed and for the care of those still awaiting adoption. You may make donations on our website or via Paypal (make payments to or by mail to AHDF 1718 M St NW #191 Washington, DC 20036.

There ARE homes for these supposedly unwanted horses, even in the current economy. We have homes looking to add to their pastures even now.