Thursday, March 26, 2009

AHDF Press Release

The AHDF Applauds Senators Landrieu and Ensign for Introducing The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act

(March 26, 2009, Washington, DC)—The American Horse Defense Fund (AHDF), the nation’s largest and most active equine welfare organization, thanks U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and John Ensign, R-Nev., for introducing legislation today that would prevent American horses from ending their lives in Mexican and Canadian horse slaughter plants and would also prohibit the slaughter of American horses in the United States. The AHDF considers this legislation critical to end the cruel acts and treatment of these wonderful animals. The bill is appropriately called The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act.

Co-sponsors of this legislation include Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Robert Byrd, D- W.Va., Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., Thomas Carper, D-Del., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., Ted Kennedy, D- Mass., John Kerry, D-Mass., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Carl Levin, D-Mich., Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

“This bill would finally recognize horse slaughter for what it is…heartless cruelty. It would finally give American horses the dignity that they deserve and the respect they have gained for having helped develop this country and their continued contributions to society and remove them from the menu for good,” said Shelley Sawhook, The AHDF's president and CEO. “The majority of Americans polled have stated that they support this type of legislation. Opponents of this legislation are in the minority and it is time that the cruelty ends.”

In 2007 the last foreign owned horse slaughter plants closed. The plants were shuttered due to rising public sentiment against their treatment of the animals and state legislative initiatives. The federal courts have upheld the state laws forcing their closure. While Congress acted to close the plants by withdrawing necessary funding for the inspection of the meat derived from the horses, it failed to act to stop the export of live horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, which is still occurring. In 2008 and 2009 the exports of horses to Mexico and Canada exceed the number of exports and horses slaughtered in the United States to date in 2007.

"America's horses are being beaten and dragged across the border into Mexico and Canada so that they can be inhumanely slaughtered for food. I will continue to fight in Congress to end this brutal practice and ensure that American horses will no longer be savagely slaughtered for human consumption," Sen. Landrieu said.

"The time to put an end to the practice of slaughtering horses in America is long overdue,” Sen. Ensign said. “Horses have an important role in the history of our country, particularly the West, and they deserve our protection. As a senator and a veterinarian, I am committed to doing what I can for these magnificent animals." Sen. Ensign is the only veterinarian serving in the U.S. Senate.

In January 2009, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., introduced the House version of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, H.R. 503. In the past, congressional actions on horse slaughter have shown strong, bipartisan support. In the 109th Congress, legislation to stop horse slaughter passed the Senate by a more than two-to-one margin and passed the House numerous times by a margin of more than 100 votes.

There is no humane way to slaughter horses for food and the slaughter of horses is a particularly cruel. Various investigations into the horse slaughter industry have shown just how cruel it can be. Reports by groups such as Animal Angels, the HSUS and even the USDA have documented the cruelty and abuse. A FOIA presented to the USDA on behalf of Animal Angels shows that USDA inspectors have known about the cruelty for years, but with little or no enforcement authority the USDA was unable to or failed to act to protect the equine victims. An HSUS video shows the horrors at a Juarez Mexico slaughter plant where thousands of horses were, and still are, stabbed with short knives, leaving them paralyzed and unable to breathe. Horses may still be conscious when they are hoisted up by a chain and when their throats are slit. Documentation uncovered by AHDF shows that according to USDA records horses in U.S. plants were also conscious during the slaughter “process”. There is no humane reason for horse slaughter to exist and it is time that it end and the American horse to finally be treated humanely.

The AHDF is joined by over 500 organizations, which includes groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, Veterinarians for Equine Welfare, the ASPCA, in support of a ban on the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

Contact Shelley Sawhook 866-956-AHDF

Why we should take the opposition seriously

The AQHA recently sent out a press release (see below). It highlights why our side isn't making the strides we should considering we are in the right. They are better funded, better organized and better represented. Is it possible for our side (anti-slaughter) to achieve the same? YOU BET!

We just have to stay focused, raise more money and stop some of the in-fighting that sometimes goes on. Every time groups disagree we give them ammo against us. Every time we feel down they are there to take advantage. When we think that nobody needs funding to work we allow them to get ahead.

One of the ways we fail is that don't think before we say or pass along information. We share stories with no basis in fact. Does anyone remember the story that the whole state of Kentucky was being over run with abandoned horses? The story got picked up by a writer from the Associated Press, who also failed to check the story out. If he had he would have found that the horses in question had owners and they were not abandoned. That story still haunts us today, as the pro-slaughter side still uses it to show that horses are being abandoned because the slaughter plants shut down. Of course, they also fail to inform anyone that the supposed incident occurred when Cavel was still operating in nearby Illinois. We have got to quit forwarding emails about unsubstantiated abandoned horse cases. I got an email the other day from someone who talked about horses being found in the dozens in abandoned trailers. First, one can always find an owner if a trailer is abandoned by its VIN or license plate. Second, if one is that desperate they would SELL the trailer, not abandon it. I personally have been looking to buy a trailer and locally they are running $5000 and up for a 2 horse and I need a bigger trailer than that. But someone couldn't feed their horses so they loaded them up and then unhooked the trailer abandoning both trailer and horses on the side of the road?!

The biggest way we fall behind is thinking that funding isn't needed to work on the federal ban. The AQHA, AVMA and Cattlemen's Associations all are not as restricted on their funding as non-profit groups such as AHDF. They can spend as much as they like to fly folks out, pay for hotels and wine and dine legislators. Groups like the AHDF are limited to spending less than 10% of their donations on lobby activities.

Until now I have personally funded all of my trips, but I can no longer do that. Last year alone I flew to DC to lobby 4 times and the year before it was 8 times and all for about a week. I have the time, but no longer have the airline miles or money to go. (I have used all of our family's airline miles that we were saving for a family vacation and then some. I have flown enough that my whole family could have gone to Hawaii for a month.) I often think that people don't understand how important face to face meetings are and these types of trips are. Or perhaps they think that these things are free or that other things are more important. This isn't true and if we EVER want to see the end of horse slaughter in the United States we MUST change our thinking.

For example, earlier in the evening I forwarded an email to the AHDF group about a rescue effort to save 12 horses from slaughter. To save these horses, the group needs about $5000. That doesn't include theafter care these horses will need until they find a home. The wonderful woman running this rescue effort has saved over 600 horses since 2006. Imagine the money that took. Now imagine if matching funds were sent in 2006 to stop horse slaughter. We could have used it and made a difference, possibly ending slaughter before now. I am NOT saying don't fund rescues or rescue efforts. I have said this before. Instead, if you donate $5 to a rescue, donate $5 to the effort to END horse slaughter. If you have $100 to donate, donate $50 to a rescue and $50 to END the problem. This is just as important!

I know that some people think that AHDF is big and we have funding. We don't. Not one single staff member is paid, we don't even reimburse expenses. Today I spoke with someone who was shocked that we don't even pay a small stipend to help defray our staff's expenses. Even if we wanted to do that, we couldn't. I know that many groups not only pay their staff, but also pay all of their expenses. I can name several right now. However, they don't make the same impact that AHDF does and don't lobby as extensively or effectively. Think how much more effective we could be if we had the funding!

We have got to be just as smart as our opponents and right now we aren't acting that way.

AQHA Members visit Capitol Hill, Form Q-Contacts

America's Horse, March 24, 2009 – AQHA's Public Policy Committee's vision of a grassroots lobbying group made up of knowledgeable and passionate AQHA members became a reality February 10-12 in Washington , D.C.

The pilot program, which is known as Q-Contact, was created to develop a "key contact" system to enable AQHA to expand its efforts in national public policy work with a functional "grassroots or grass tops" type program. Key contact advocacy is based on select industry leaders developing a strong working relationship with lawmakers and their staff. The initial goal of the Q-Contact program was to identify, train and empower 15 to 16 members to develop key constituent relationships with selected members of Congress that might be in a position to advance policies and regulatory goals of AQHA. Q-Contacts are working to become a reliable resource and partner in regard to the area of expertise for lawmakers and their staffs.

The following nine Q-Contact members, along with AQHA staff Tom Persechino and Barbara Linke , traveled to Washington, D.C. in February for training and Hill visits: Dr. Jerry Black of California; Kelly Boles Chapman of Michigan; Wade Ellerbroek of Iowa; Norm Luba of Kentucky; Shawn Magee of Louisiana; Ed McNelis of Idaho; Scott Merritt of Nebraska; George Phillips of Mississippi; Georga Sutton of South Dakota.

Several of the Q-Contacts met with their Senators and Congressmen in person. Representatives and Senators for the following states were contacted: Alaska , California , Iowa , Idaho , Kentucky , Louisiana , Nebraska , Michigan , Mississippi and South Dakota . Q-Contacts also visited with the House Agriculture Committee staff.

At each Congressional and Senate office, the Q-Contacts left information on American Quarter Horse ownership and population graphs for each respective state, an updated position statement on pending federal legislation concerning horse processing, the National Conference of State Legislatures resolution and a short DVD featuring Dr. Tom Lenz's presentation on the unwanted horse.

Megan Formeck of Fairfax , Virginia , attended the Q-Contact training session as a junior lobbyist and also made Hill visits. Formeck is an AQHYA member and a student at George Mason University .

"These meetings were extremely successful in getting the initial contact established as well as communicating the Association'

s position on key pieces of legislation," said AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway. "Keeping abreast of the political activities in Washington will benefit all AQHA members."

In February, the initial development and programming of a Q-Contact network began. This on-line community will serve as a key component in AQHA's communications and follow-up with the Q-Contacts.

AQHA news and information is a service of AQHA publications. For more information on The American Quarter Horse Journal, The American Quarter Horse Racing Journal or America's Horse, visit

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Professional Versus Passionate

I have worked in animal welfare and one of the first things you are taught is to keep your emotions in check. It seemed reasonable as there are so many things that break your heart in this industry. You learn quickly that the world is a VERY harsh place, but Mother Nature is no where near as unforgiving as what people can do. If one went around crying about it all the time one wouldn't be taken seriously. Then I began working with Congress and again the lesson was reinforced, act professional, not emotional. I sat in meetings talking to aides and without missing a beat I would talk about the cruelty perpetrated on horses without a trace of emotion. I got really good at it, but somehow I saw that we weren't making the progress we should be making with our bills.

During the debate on HR 503 on the House floor in 2006 I heard a wonderful speaker that put things into perspective. It was the testimony of Rep. Moran of Virginia. If you haven't heard it you can read it by clicking here. Rep Moran understood that it isn't all cut and dried, it is an emotional issue. I began talking about the emotional aspects while in meetings, but I still remained professional and didn't allow the emotional aspects to become evident. After all, it is lesson one right?

Lately I have been thinking about how and why we have had successes in the past. I feel like we need to go back and look at history and find the answers to how they succeeded and use those same things to succeed now. Velma Johnston aka "Wild Horse Annie" talked about her emotional responses to seeing the wild horses bloody and battered and she used the most emotional tactic possible to get bills passed, getting school children involved. When cruelty laws are passed, it isn't the professional folks that get it done. It is the emotional pleas of those who have seen first hand the results of the cruelty. It is the emotional response that people have had whose pets were victimized. The cries of children who lost their beloved horses. Remember the girl whose horse was stolen on her birthday and ultimately slaughtered? What about the horror we all felt when we first heard they slaughtered pregnant mares or that one gave birth on the slaughter house floor?

I have also been thinking that we have fallen for the whole "professional" issue because those that are opposed to horse slaughter or those practical ranchers who see dollars on the hoof going out the door when wild horses are protected keep telling us we are just a bunch of overly emotional (read whiny) people. To combat that we have actually fallen for their line of thinking by becoming just as unemotional as they are. That isn't our strength and we have fallen for it. I think that we may have lost ground because of it. It is time to regain our humanity.

So, I say it sure the heck is an emotional issue. It breaks my heart when I see some of the horrors I have seen. I cry every time I see horse slaughter videos. I cry when I think about the fact that my grandchildren may never be able to see a true wild horse except on videos and movies. I am emotional and this IS an emotional issue. It hurts the soul to see these things and it SHOULD.

My daughter's pony was 3 months old and headed to slaughter until he became so ill that he was dumped at an auction. It made me MAD to know that the kill buyer violated the law to buy the little guy to take to slaughter and that officials took his word that Manilla was indeed at least 6 months old. It made me mad that the owner sold the boy KNOWING how old he was and didn't care what happened to him as long as they got a few bucks. It ticked me off that he was hauled around the country getting sicker until even the inspectors couldn't ignore it and finally said that he would die on the truck. Why should I sit there quietly and tell this story without emotion? I SHOULD be mad and I should share that with those in meetings so that really understand what our family went through when we saved that boy. How we love him, even though he gets into more trouble than any of our other animals. How funny it is when he makes faces at us. The absolute JOY he brings to my daughter. Do you hear those terms? Mad, happy, love and joy are all emotions, valid emotions. Why hide them?

Yes, we have a ton of documentation to support our side. Yes, we have professional reasons for what we stand for and yes we are right. However, we we took out the emotion we gave a little piece of our argument away, that it is just plain WRONG to treat animals this way. It is just plain magic what therapy horses can do for autistic children. It is just plain good for the soul to watch a horse running on the range free and wild. These things cannot be explained by being all "professional", it is raw emotion and it should be expressed emotionally.

I am not advocating just ranting or acting foolish. I am however saying that we have got to get Congress and the public to understand that this IS an emotional issue and it comes down to right and wrong. So let's embrace the emotions as well as all of the facts. I think we can go much further that way than we have by denying a part of our argument.

Friday, March 13, 2009

When Good Intentions Go Bad Part 2

A while back I posted a blog about good intentions that went bad. Mostly it affected a pending bill in Illinois that originally would have banned double decker trailers in the transport of horses. That bill had supporters, including the AHDF, until the Farm Bureau got involved and added amendments that would have basically gutted the bill. While the sponsor agreed to the amendments and then stripped them from the bill when it was pointed out what they did, the whole thing blew apart and the bill never did pass.

This time I am talking, not about a bill, but a few recent events that have been blowing around in private and not so private emails. All involve the lives of horses and a bunch of well intentioned folks who have lost their way for whatever reasons. I am not going to name the players as in the end it doesn't matter because horses are now at risk because of those actions and that is ultimately the real shame. If you recognize yourself or your group, don't automatically assume that I have taken sides, I haven't. As I see it in every case I am mentioning both parties failed in some way or another and all need to take responsibility for their actions. I am not condeming anyone, I KNOW without a doubt that everyone started with the best of intentions, but we all need to learn lessons here to make sure it never happens again.

In the first one a group that doesn't take in horses funded a rescue effort and placed them with another group. Sounds like everything should have gone well right? Wrong! Everyone had the idea that they would look like heroes and they all failed to do their homework ahead of time and the horses are at this minute in danger.

The first group secured funding to rescue a fairly large number of horses. They then began looking for placement for them. They were working against a time line to get the horses moved, so instead of doing enough research they decided to place them all with a group that said they could handle the animals. (It would also save on transportation costs to send them all to the same place rather than sending them to multiple locations.) They took the rescue's word for it and shipped the horses and even sent some money to provide for their care ahead of time. They failed to hear the warning signs of "I have to have some fence repairs done before the horses get here" or "I need to get more hay" which turned out to mean that the rescue was in over their heads financially and couldn't afford to care for the horses. The org wanted to save the horses and look as though they were active in the efforts, so they sent the horses anyway. After the fact it has come to light that the rescue not only wasn't in a position to care for the horses but had made some bad financial moves in the past and is now threatening to abandon the horses. As if that isn't bad enough the rescue has made demands of the organization to not only pay for feed, but for boarding the horses too. The rescue wanted to help, but when they learned that the organization had the ability to get funding they tried to milk them dry. Now both the rescue and the organization involved are in a pitched email battle and in the end there won't be any winner, and the horses will lose. Other people and organizations have lined up to take sides, without considering that BOTH made mistakes and BOTH should accept responsibility for those horses. Shame on them both.

Next is a case of a group that has begun euthanizing healthy horses that they "think" may not find homes. They have basically become a shelter with a very limited holding time. This isn't the worst part, they have now developed the mindset that they are the horse police and know what is best for the horses.

The group started out as a rescue. They took in a few horses here and there and even provided a bit of training to enhance their adoptability. As most rescues know it takes time to adopt due to screening and training. They had a bit of modest success and were filling a niche in a specific area. They decided to go bigger because of their success. They began working with a group to rescue horses from feedlots and while the majority of the horses never set foot on their property they were getting a reputation for helping. Their donations increased as did their visibility. Now they were getting donations to go to a local auction to buy horses in danger of going to a kill buyer. They began euthanizing horses that came from the auction who were very old or sick, preventing them from enduring the slaughter trip and having to suffer. At one auction they managed to buy EVERY horse. Now they were seen as THE ultimate rescue, they were doing great. Ooops, forgot to mention that when they bought every horse they bid against regular folks looking for a horse and many went for well above slaughter prices and that people who go to the auction to save horses say there is only one or maybe 2 kill buyers at the tiny auction. They began to reason that those folks bidding on stallions or mares were backyard breeders and now they were out to save them all from a life of breeding. Since they didn't have stallion facilities, those animals were held over night and instantly euthanized. They developed a program to "save" horses, which meant if they didn't find a home within so many days with no adoption fee those animals were instantly euthanized. They stopped training, but they were getting tons of donations. Since they only really cared for horses for a few days this benefitted them financially. Then they began holding "euthanasia days" where the public could bring horses to die and their bodies hauled off with their own dead. People on the groups they belonged to didn't see what was happening and when one questioned anything they were promptly removed from the group or were attacked by the rescue. They didn't seem to notice that the rescue had limited space, so only a few horses could actually be held by the rescue and that they were bringing in far too many animals for their limited facilities. Now the rescue regularly euthanizes on a certain every week. Horses not placed during the week before are killed for no other reason than they would have longer holding times. This includes foals as they take long to place. Only those horses that are not too old, are in good shape, are healthy and have impeccible training avoid the needle. The rescue is putting itself out there as a model to other rescues to follow and the pro-slaughter folks are certainly supporting it as it supports their position. They have gained a following, publicity and money. The rescue manager now is paid a salary, has their facility mortgage paid and has new vehicles to drive, including new trailers, but horses die every week that could have found new homes. Shame on them and their supporters.

I could go on and on with other examples. It is a crying shame what is being done. It is distracting from the work that needs to be done. Frankly I don't have time to follow the email exchanges, let alone follow up on people acting badly. It is hard enough to fight the other side without having to fight the idiots supposedly on our own side.

In April I will be attending the Homes for Horses Conference and one of the topics discussed will be an accredidation program which is sorely needed. There are great rescues out there and great organizations, but they are seldom recognized because of the bad acts of others. An accreditation program will be helpful in sorting these things out and when I return I will post information on it for those interested. I hope that others don't think this is representative of the great groups that are out there. Most are responsible wonderful groups that work on shoestrings because some people hesitate to donate because of the bad folks out there. Like any industry we have good and bad, but the focus is on the bad and I am tired of it.

Let's all move on now and focus more on those whose great intentions are not distracted by fame, glory and money. Thanks for bearing with me on my little rant.

State level Horse Slaughter Bills

While this is AHDF's "official" site for news and information, I often get backed up with so many other things I sometimes run out of time to post things. AHDF is also on MySpace, FaceBook and Twitter too so if you are a member of any of these please join me there.

It is important for everyone living in the states where bills are pending to know about the status of the bills. If anyone would like to keep us up to date on what is going on in your state please let me know and send me updates as needed about things like pending hearings and votes. It is simply impossible for me alone to keep up with all of them so I need your help. These pending state bills would legalize horse slaughter in the various states or to instruct their House and Senate delegation to vote against the federal bill HR 503.

Kansas, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming have all passed resolutions that instruct their Congressional and Senate delegations to vote against HR 503. Idaho, Arizona, Minnesota, North Dakota, Arkansas and Missouri all have pending resolutions to do the same.

Illinois, Montana and Tennessee have pending bills to legalize and promote the horse slaughter industry to open plants in their states. Considering that Illinois passed a bill in 2007 to close the plants it is crazy that they would backtrack, but politics is crazy.

If you live in a state where a bill is pending PLEASE contact your state government and let them know that you are opposed to such language. First because they should trust that their elected officials in DC know what their consitituents want and need. They were elected to those positions, not the state level government. Second because if they make the wrong decision they will be the ones to pay the price, with their jobs. It is wrong for a state to force their hands and then sit back and watch the show. Third, because you are opposed to such a bill because it would allow horse slaughter to continue which is inhumane and cruel.

For those folks in the states where they want to actually see a plant built. They need to read the problems that Texas and Illinois had with the plants. Former Mayor Paula Bacon of Kaufman has written a wonderful letter that can be used. I am pasting it below. Please use your own words as well as the well written and informative open letter Mayor Bacon has graciously provided.

Open Letter to State Legislatures Considering Pro-Horse Slaughter Resolutions

Dear State Legislator:

You will soon be asked to vote on ... legislation regarding the commercial slaughter of American horses of which you probably have very little firsthand knowledge. No doubt you have heard from lobbyists and organizations who want you to support the practice, but before you do, you should ask yourself why the residents of Texas and Illinois worked so hard to rid their states of their horse slaughter plants. The answer may surprise you.
As a mayor who lived with this plague in her town for many years, who knows what the horse slaughter industry really is and what it does to a community please allow me to tell you what we experienced. The industry caused significant and long term hardship to my community which was home to Dallas Crown, one of the last three horse slaughter plants in the United States.
All three plants were foreign-owned, and since the market for horsemeat is entirely foreign, the industry will always be dominated by these foreign interests. The corporations involved in this industry have consistently proven themselves to be the worst possible corporate citizens.
The Dallas Crown horse slaughtering facility had been in operation in Kaufman since the late 70's and from the beginning had caused problems both economically and environmentally. I have listed some of the specific issues below.
I will gladly provide you with detailed reports from my former City Manager, Police Chief, and Public Works Director regarding odor and wastewater effluence violations at the Dallas Crown horse slaughter plant in the City of Kaufman.. The reports reference "decaying meat [which] provides a foul odor and is an attraction for vermin and carrion," containers conveyed "uncovered and leaking liquids," there are "significant foul odors during the daily monitoring of the area," and "Dallas Crown continually neglects to perform within the standards required of them."
Therefore, in August of 2005, our City Council decided by unanimous decision to send the Dallas Crown issue to the Board of Adjustments for termination of their non-conforming use status. In March of 2006, the Board of Adjustments voted to order Dallas Crown closed, but the plant was able to tie the enforcement up in the courts until they were finally closed under state law in February of 2007.
Dallas Crown repeatedly described itself as a "good corporate citizen." I will be straightforward in asserting that they are the very antithesis of such.
o Dallas Crown had a very long history of violations to their industrial waste permit, loading' the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant.
o Dallas Crown denied the City access to their property for wastewater testing beginning October 1, 2004 until July 6, 2005 , despite requirement by city ordinance, city permit agreement, and court order.
o City staff reported that a $6 million upgrade to our wastewater treatment plant would be required even though the plant was planned and financed to last through 2015.
o Odor problems resulting from the outside storage of offal and hides over several days persisted not only in traditionally African-American neighborhood known as "Boggy Bottom", but at the nearby Presbyterian Hospital , the daycare center, and surrounding areas.
o Transport of offal and fresh hides on City and state thoroughfares is conducted in leaking containers without covers.
o City documents reveal an extended history of efforts to have Dallas Crown address various environmental issues. Reports include descriptive language including such as "blood flowing east and west in the ditches from your plant," "It has been over 45 days [it had been 59 days] and no apparent cleanup has occurred," "Your system has not improved and subsequently it has gotten a lot worse," "Words cannot express the seriousness" of recent violations and the "adverse effects on the wastewater treatment plant," and "Please be sure trailers are secured before leaving your premises to prevent spills," noting also "bones and blood laying in front of the facility," problems with bones and parts in neighboring yards and the attraction of "dogs and other animals."
o In response to 29 citations for wastewater violations, each accompanied by a potential fine of $2,000, Dallas Crown requested 29 separate jury trials, potentially causing yet another economic strain to the City's budget. We could, of course, not afford to litigate in order to extract the fines
o Dallas Crown took 11 months to submit a mandatory "sludge control plan" to assist efficient operation of the wastewater treatment plant though City staff requested it orally and in writing many times.
o The City Manager advised me that the City would have to spend $70,000 in legal fees because of Dallas Crown problems, which was the entire legal budget for the fiscal year.
o During this period, Dallas Crown paid property taxes that were less than half of what the City spent on legal fees directly related to Dallas Crown violations.
o Generally, Dallas Crown has the economic ability to prevail, to exceed the constraints of the City's budget.
Dallas Crown had a negative effect on the development of surrounding properties, and a horse slaughter plant is a stigma to the development of our city generally. I have since learned that these problems were mirrored at the other two plants. Fort Worth's Beltex horse slaughter plant also violated Ft. Worth's wastewater regulations several times, clogged sewer lines, and both spilled and pumped blood into a nearby creek (San Antonio Current, June 19, 2003 ). Texas State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, whose district includes Beltex, and Rep. Toby Goodman, R-Arlington, fought hard against legislation that would have legalized horse slaughter in Texas in 2003.
The horse slaughter plant in DeKalb , IL had a similar pattern. It was destroyed by fire in 2002, and rebuilt in 2004. It was charged and fined by the DeKalb Sanitary District almost every month from the reopening until its closing in 2007 under a new state law for consistently exceeding wastewater discharge guidelines. I can provide you with the documentation of those violations. Like Dallas Crown, Cavel refused to pay their fines for years.
During this time, I learned that an estimated $5 million in Federal funding was being spent annually to support three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants! And when the Dallas Crown tax records were exposed in the city's legal struggle, we found that they had paid only $5 in federal taxes on a gross income of over $12,000,000!
Moreover, the parent company of Cavel has since moved its operations to Canada and continued to slaughter American horses. In Canada they have apparently become even more blatant, dumping huge untreated piles of entrails onto open ground and even using a tanker truck to discharge blood and refuse into a local river.
I have mentioned only the pollution issue, but this is but one negative aspect of horse slaughter. I have subsequently learned of a USDA document containing 900 pages of graphic photos that show the horrors that the horses were subject to. Behind the privacy fences of these plants, trucks arrived continuously and on those trucks was every form of inhumane violation one can imagine from mares birthing foals to horses with eyes dangling from their sockets and legs ripped from their bodies.
The more I learn about horse slaughter, the more certain I am: There is no justification for horse slaughter in this country. My city was little more than a door mat for a foreign-owned business that drained our resources, thwarted economic development and stigmatized our community. Americans don't eat horses, and we don't raise them for human consumption. There is no justification for spending American tax dollars to support this industry at the expense of Americans and our horses.

Former Mayor Paula Bacon
Kaufman, TX

Monday, March 2, 2009

HR 503

I am so tired of dealing with the opposition's attempts to make more of a bill than there is. Recently I received an email from someone who had gotten the "bullet" points that the pro-slaughter groups are out there promoting. Some of them are the same tired issues that they have been beating to death since the beginning. So, again this year I will answer those stupid arguments and hopefully put them to bed for the last time. (I know it won't be but a girl has to dream doesn't she?) The text from the incredibly ignorant are going to be in red, with my responses in black.

First of all...know what we are all up against...let me point to just a couple of the headlines out of the bill that has been introduced-from the transportation statement, "to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for any other purposes;"(that covers about everything!) "horses and other equines are domestic animals that are used primarily for recreation, pleasure, and sport;"(also used for work, and for the majority of world cultures for food) "the movement, showing, exhibition, or sale of sore horses in intrastate commerce, and the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation in intrastate commerce of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, adversely affect and burden interstate and foreign commerce;" ("sore" is a very loose term that could be applied to practically any horse under a lot of different circumstances) and "the Secretary may detain for examination, testing, or the taking of evidence-(the horse)-any horse at any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction which is sore or which the Secretary has probable cause to believe is sore." (Unconstitutional search and seizure!) According to Thomas Arens, a licensed Equine Professional and Auctioneer in Markleville, Indiana who pointed this out to me, the intent of the bill is to have a USDA official to be able to stop any horses being transported anywhere and take a swab sample of their legs. If the swab sample shows an astringent or a countered irritant then the assumption is that they must be transporting them to slaughter and the official will have the right to impound the horse.

Isn't everyone tired of the play on the whole "you wouldn't be able to transport your horse" thing? How incredibly ignorant of them to not know that Soring is an issue with gaited horses (of course it only takes reading the law, where Soring is very well DEFINED to know this stuff) and Soring has been illegal since the law passed in 1970. Swabbing the legs of the horse is done to detect the chemicals used in Soring a horse. One doesn't sore a horse to send it to slaughter, one does it in anticipation of entering said horse in a show. Testing for soring wouldn't happen when a load is suspected of heading to slaughter. Since Soring is illegal the agency charged with enforcing it should be able to take the suspected item (in this case the horse) in for further testing. It isn't unconstitutional search and seizure any more than if police officer smells alcohol on one's breath and asking for a Breathalyzer or blood test is. One can refuse the swab, just as one can refuse to take a Breathalyzer, but expect to be held until a court order is issued for the blood test or have your horse taken until the tests are run.

Of course if you are getting your legal opinions from an auctioneer you have bigger problems than just getting the wrong answer. I guess the reason why the stopped saying "an attorney friend" is that people kept asking that pesky question about who that attorney is. Now we have a name for that stunning legal analysis.

Sore is NOT a lose term that can mean anything. That is incredibly ignorant. It is well defined under the Horse Protection Act. The issue of "and for any other uses" is NOT being added, it is already contained in the law. This is procedural, meaning it is not limited to checking horses at shows should the USDA choose to enforce the law elsewhere.

To remove these protections might make some really cruel gaited horse people happy, but it wouldn't protect the average horse person any more.

1. Talk to everybody. Talk to the media. Talk to livestock and agriculture groups. Talk to animal rescue and recovery groups. Talk to local governments. Talk to concerned citizens...and tell everyone of them to talk to everybody they know, and write Congress...particularly the House Judicial Committee where the Burton-Conyers HB 503 Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act has been introduced...and to both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees who need to challenge the appropriateness of that Committee, and weigh in with all of the weight of our rural and horse-loving citizens behind them. Here is a link to the House Judiciary Committee, House Agriculture Committee, Senate Agriculture Committee, and a contact list for the entire Congress so that you can contact your own Senators and Representatives.

We sure should talk to everyone we can as well. The committee the bill is in is the appropriate committee. The US Code can only be amended through the Judiciary Committee. That is why it is the most sought after committee, with the most senior legislators sitting on it. They have the ability to make things ILLEGAL, not just change regulations. The Judiciary Committee deals with "The judiciary and judicial proceedings, civil and criminal.", "Criminal law enforcement" and "Revision and codification of the Statutes of the United States.".

2 What should you tell them?
Make sure they understand the true agenda of the animal rights organizations backing this measure-imposing a vegan lifestyle on all of America-go to yourselves, and point everyone you have any contact with that way-find out what the 7 Things You Need to Know About the HSUS are...

Huh? This issue has nothing to do with promoting a vegan lifestyle. While some fighting to ban horse slaughter may be vegan, not all are. I certainly am not and that is definitely not a part of my agenda. I also wrote an article on the difference between animal rights and animal welfare. I guess that they simply refuse to recognize the difference, because of ignorance and just want to focus on a certain part of those involved in the fight. Just like they LOVE saying that those wanting to ban slaughter have nothing to do with the horse industry and don't know anything about horses. I guess my horses are a figment of my imagination as are all the horses of our members. 99% of the AHDF members are horse owners, but that doesn't fit in with their little spin.

3. Make sure they hear that a vegan lifestyle is particularly dangerous for our babies and children. Babies and children deprived of animal derived protein through their mother's milk, and through their diets-their brains do not have the nutrients to develop properly-this lifestyle will severely handicap the next generation. Remember that 85% of the human brain's development happens in the first three years of life. Here are a couple of links that back this up: New York Times article - Authorities Say Strict Vegan Diet Endangered Life of Queens Baby; People Magazine - Did This Baby Die from a Vegan Diet?; and Death by Veganism, a New York Times Op Ed written by Nina Planck, author of Real Food.

Huh Again! The proper diet, vegan or otherwise can be healthy for children. Of course any diet, taken to extremes, can be dangerous. That includes feeding your children a diet high in beef as it contributes to heart disease. Let's get real. Are we seriously going to sink this low?

4. Make sure they understand that most of the world eats horses. Remind them that horses have been used for many purposes, including food, since before the very first animals were domesticated. If we ban the processing of horses in the US it will not stop horses from being eaten-it will just destroy the equine industry here, eliminate the livelihoods of thousands of people, and the jobs of thousands more-at a time when the economy is already suffering tremendously. Here is a quote from a recent broadcast, "Frugal Icelanders Prepare For The Holidays Morning Edition, December 11, 2008 · Iceland has been hit by the global financial crisis in a big way. With unemployment surging and the currency collapsing, less expensive traditional staples are coming back into fashion. Frugal Icelanders are avoiding imported beers. They are also buying horse meat, which is half the price of beef."

I don't know that we can go so far as to say that MOST of the world eats horses. We do acknowledge that there are parts of the world that do eat horse meat. DUH! Who the heck do they think is buying it? We never claimed that they were killing horses for the fun of it. However, let's look at a couple of issues. Recently the USDA came out with an alert saying that they are finding Bute in dairy cattle being culled and sent to slaughter. Since there is no tolerance for ANY Bute in meat producing animals, this is highly alarming. Funny, just about every horse owner I know has Bute on hand and have given it to their horses. That is because we don't intend them to be a food animal. We can read the label that says "Not for use in animals intended for human consumption". Maybe the pro-slaughter side should spend some of their money on teaching their side to R-E-A-D. Owners are not selling their animals to slaughter, they never did. The horses that go to slaughter go through a middleman, the kill buyer. If every owner intended their animal to go to slaughter why did they not take them there themselves? (According to the records available about 3 animals a week out of the hundreds a day were brought there by their owners.)

4. Tell them that since the plants were closed by state action in the US, that we are now importing more than 500 metric tons of horsemeat into the US.

First, I have to say that the numbering belongs to this person and group, I didn't make two number 4s, they did.

Next, we are NOT importing horsemeat for human consumption. At least not where I can find it. It is illegal in many states. My guess this is being imported for zoo animals. Most zoos have found that feeding horsemeat is not the healthiest for their big cats. First, there are too many drugs in the meat. (It has been found to be responsible for killing greyhounds and alligators fed the meat.) Second, horse is not a traditional meal for these animals and many zoos have found other meats are healthier and more easily digested than horse.

5. Make sure that every horse owner in the United States-especially the wealthy thoroughbred owners, and warm blood people, clearly understand that if we classify horses as pets, as companion animals-that all of their agriculture related tax benefits will disappear-no more deductions, no more exemptions. Horses are livestock, plain and simple.

What agricultural exemptions? In most areas there aren't any for those raising horses because they AREN'T a meat producing animal. Horse feed is taxed, just like dog food. Horse supplies are taxed, just like dog leashes. Most tax exemptions are taken under the hobby deduction on our income taxes, that is if we have derived some sort of income from it. Also, most are businesses and are taxed as such and allowed to offset any expenses. However, it is incredibly rare, if available at all, to see any agricultural exemptions based on equine breeding, racing or anything else. Of course if they do allow horses to be considered livestock only then EVERY owner should be allowed an agricultural exemption. I'd sure like one.

6. Tell them this is not an issue of human euthanasia for un-wanted horses-this is an issue of economics and markets. Without a market there will be no breeders. Without breeders there will be no horses. Period.

Yep, every breeder would stop breeding. Because if there is no slaughter of course every race track would shut down, every dressage rider would get out of showing... That is the most ignorant thing I have ever heard. Actually banning slaughter would HELP the equine industry in the end. Breeders would ensure that every foal was bred for the best confirmation and that horses would sell for more as breeding would be more selective. The backyard breeding of lower quality, cull/grade horses wouldn't see a market with much higher quality animals for sale at reasonable prices.

I am not even going to talk about the difference between humane euthanasia and slaughter. I think that viewing the videos can make that clear for just about anyone. HSUS has videos of both on their website.

7. Tell them that abandoned and neglected horses are overwhelming the rescue and recovery organizations, and that even if you wanted to give away your good, old horse might not be able to find any place to go with him because there is no longer a release valve through the marketing of those horses who will never be anybody's pet-or whose owners need to salvage some economic value out of their property.

Make sure they understand that we have some 33,000 (by BLM count-most ranchers dealing with those ranges say triple that number) so-called wild horses on the Western public lands. Make sure they know that we have another 30,000+ standing in feedlots all over the West at taxpayer expense.

It isn't abandoned and neglected horses that are overwhelming rescues, it is the fact that we have to expend so much on rescuing slaughter bound horses that put so many of us in trouble. Abuse and neglect are very separate issues that have little to do with slaughter. Greed is the issue behind slaughter. I guess if they could sell grandma for burgers they would rather do that than do the right thing. Next let's gun down our eagles because I am sure that the folks eating horse would eat those too. Now let's all turn over our cats and dogs and let them eat those and lift the ban on using their fur for products.

Ok, that got a little nasty, but come one I have had to rebut the most ignorant things. Let's face it the economy is bad and things are expensive. Horses are not a necessity, they are a luxury. Some people have had to face hard decisions, ones that I hope never to have to face. Shelters for dogs and cats are also at the maximum and adoptions are down for them too and many no-kill shelters are looking at lifting that ban to deal with the overflow. That doesn't mean that we should all just throw our hands in the air and give up. We all have great hopes that things will get better soon. However, it is ignorant to say that the equine industry is the only industry not impacted by the economy, just plant closings affected it. C'mon!!

Hay is higher because they closed the horse slaughter plants, grain is higher because they closed the plants, oh yeah and only for horses, cattle are facing it because of the higher fuel prices. The economy crashed because the horse slaughter plants closed. I think thy have given those plants far too much credit and power.

8. Make sure they know that any unregulated, unmanaged horse herd will double itself every 4 years-that they are already destroying the ecosystems and wildlife habitat of our public lands, and that the cost of caring for them off of the lands will grow to $77 million dollars of taxpayer expense by 2012.

This has got NOTHING to do with horse slaughter. It has to do with the wild horse issue and we firmly believe that the BLM has overinflated these statistics as well as improperly managed the wild horse populations. Of course, what can you expect of someone from Wyoming who claims to be a horse breeder, but actually is a beef rancher and writes poems about illegally roping and harassing wild horses.

And, how can I possibly explain
that racing horseback,
loose and wild through
treacherous enchanting terrain,
sailing loops from
rope swung, weary shoulders
to catch wily mustang mares
is the most exciting,
and addicting occupation
known to

And lastly.

9. Remind them that 10 million people starve to death every year in this world...and maybe our excess BLM wild horses could be put to much better use by providing high quality, nutritious animal protein, untainted by BSE-type disease concerns of other livestock to people who could never afford to buy it. Once again, Americans can use an abundant and sustainable resource to come to the aid of the poor and starving of the world.

Nope horses don't suffer from BSE, they have TSE, Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, which has caused a confirmed 94 deaths in Europe. Not to mention the previously mentioned Bute and other carcinogenic drugs found in horses as well as the frequently prescribed and used antibiotics that have strict rules in food producing animals. There is also the issue of strangles, a highly contagious disease which runs rampant through the feedlots. This strep disorder can affect humans if they ingest the diseased meat.

Besides horse meat doesn't go to 3rd world countries to feed the poor. The market doesn't support it. No industry can support itself by providing only food to 3rd world countries, it isn't profitable. They make so much from selling horse meat to buyers at the highest rate possible. Besides, I would NEVER approve of selling horse meat to the poor after all we would want to help them, not kill them all off.

As I said, these arguments that the pro-slaughter folks provide are ignorant and really shouldn't be worth the time to rebut. However, the ignorant can often make an argument sound valid to the uninformed. This is what makes them so dangerous. There is just enough logic and truth buried in there to sound legitimate, even though it is a load of manure.

New Feature at AHDF Website

The AHDF website has a new feature to help our members and advocates to keep track of all the events and upcoming programs, a new calendar. The calendar right now lists programs of interest, upcoming hearings on legislation and other important meetings, and even certain shows.

So, if anyone has an event (we prefer that it not become for profit advertising) that our members may find useful such as local adoption events, rescue clinics, BLM or government public comments on equine issues, pending legislation hearings on equine issues, or other topic such as those listed please email with the details and we will try to get it listed. Listings are subject to approval, so please do not send us your local riding club's trail ride or the show your child is competing in. This is a public service we are offering to our members and those interested in advocating for the horses we love so much.