Sunday, August 16, 2009


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.

For more information and to sign up for email updates, please visit

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Horse slaughter dream a financial nightmare

Horse 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


" the Jonas Brothers", 3 orphan foals because their moms shipped to slaughter

Look at and there are FIVE new cosponsors for HR 503 for a grand total of 120.
They are:

Rep Campbell, John [CA-48] - 4/21/2009
Rep Pierluisi, Pedro R. [PR] - 4/21/2009
Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] - 4/21/2009
Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] - 4/21/2009
Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] - 4/21/2009
and for S 727 two new cosponsors in the Senate as well, raising number to 16.

Sen Burris, Roland [IL] - 4/21/2009
Sen Kennedy, Edward M. [MA] - 4/21/2009

Go HERE for the updated federal target lists:

and HERE for the updated House and Senate cosponsor lists:

Friday, April 17, 2009

NYC, Help Keep Carriage Horses Safe--Oppose Intro. 653!

Intro. 653Carriage Horse Industry

Bill Sponsor(s): Councilmembers Kendall Stewart, Simcha Felder, David Weprin, G. Oliver Koppell

ASPCA Position: Oppose

Action Needed: Please send an email or mail a letter(.doc) to your New York City councilmember urging him or her to oppose Intro. 653.
Intro. 653 is a bill currently before the City Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee that seeks to eliminate the authority of the city’s departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Consumer Affairs, the NYC Police Department and agents of the ASPCA—who have expertise in equine care and a commitment to the welfare of animals—to inspect carriage horse stables.
The sight of a carthorse being brutally beaten by his driver spurred Henry Bergh to found the ASPCA in 1866—and the ASPCA has worked to protect New York City’s working horses ever since. The ASPCA is currently the primary agency enforcing the city’s carriage horse laws.
The ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) agents: monitor horses and their drivers out in the field; conduct routine and periodic inspections of the hack line; inspect logbooks in order to enforce the limit of hours horses may work each day and verify the “trip cards” carried by drivers; enforce the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s rules and regulations on the proper medical care, treatment, and housing of carriage horses in the City; and monitor the care and condition of the horses at their stables. This includes: checking stalls for proper bedding, size and cleanliness; ensuring that horses are fed a proper diet that is free of vermin; and
evaluating lighting, ventilation and unsafe conditions.
Intro. 653 calls for the inspection of the stables by a “single entity that has veterinary training in the care of horses,” but does not state who would select this entity or who would fund the inspections. There is no language in this bill that would prevent the carriage horse industry from self-regulating through a third-party arrangement.
Without access to the stables, the ASPCA cannot monitor the conditions of the horses or their living environments, and will no longer be able to ensure that failures to comply with the law are addressed.
What You Can Do Help the ASPCA continue in our role as advocate and protector of our city’s carriage horses by urging your New York City councilmember to oppose Intro. 653. Please download this sample letter and then customize, print and mail it(.doc). You also may copy the letter into your personal email account and email it to your councilmember.
Find out who represents you and obtain your councilmember’s email and mailing addresses here.
Please also ask friends and family who live in New York City to send their own letters to their councilmembers.
Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Urge House to Pass Anti-Horse Slaughter Bill

Ask President Obama to urge Congress to support the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act

Sponsored by: ASPCA

Goal: 50,000 • Progress: 34,988

Horses have been our trusted companions and are a historically significant part of American culture. They deserve a more dignified end to their lives than to be inhumanely slaughtered and served for dinner.

H.R. 503 would put an end to this practice by prohibiting the transport of America's horses to foreign countries for slaughter. Ask President Obama today to urge Congress to support H.R. 503! Sign the petition and tell a friend.
More info ...

Dear President Obama,

As a concerned animal advocate, I am writing you to urge Congress to support the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503). H.R. 503 would prohibit the possession, shipment, transport, purchase, sale, delivery, or receipt via interstate commerce of any horse intended for slaughter for human consumption.

Americans do not eat horse meat. However, every year, more than 100,000 American horses are cruelly slaughtered just over our borders to satisfy the markets for horsemeat in Europe and Asia.

Since the last horse slaughter plants in the U.S. were closed in 2007, unwanted American horses have been shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. Overseas processing plants are not subject to U.S. oversight or regulation.

Due to overcrowded transport conditions, many horses are injured even before reaching their final destination. Some are shipped for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water, or rest, and the methods used to kill these horses once they arrive at the plant can be exceptionally inhumane.

Please help end this cruel practice - support H.R. 503, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Holland Refutes AVMA Claims By John Holland

Bring in your children and potted plants and barricade your door…they’re coming! No, it is not Al Qaeda or even the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The abandoned horses are coming and the destruction will be biblical!
At least that is the message of sensationalized articles appearing all over the country. They warn that horses are being abandoned because of the closing of U.S. horse slaughter plants, and because of the severe hay shortage in much of the Southeast.
An AP article by Richard Cockle of the Oregonian carries the headline Abandoned horses pose dilemma for ranchers, while another AP story quotes the executive director of the North Carolina Horse Council as saying an estimated 120,000 horses have been abandoned already. A month earlier, Dave Russell in the Yankton Press and Dakotan put the estimate of unwanted horses at “212,000 and counting!” And an official from the American Horse Council was quoted in a Dallas paper as saying owners would soon be abandoning 312,000 unwanted starving horses because of the recent closing of three U.S. horse slaughter facilities. Betsy Scott of the Northern Ohio News Herald even offered up an image of horses ruining our next outing by cantering across our picnic blankets! As proof, Scott quoted a horsewoman as saying that the President of the Ohio Horse Council had reported horses being abandoned in the state’s parks.

But before you head for the basement with an armload of groceries, you should know that this is, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “deja vous all over again.” In 1998, California banned horse slaughter and almost immediately a series of stories popped up about horses being abandoned in the desert, just as the slaughter proponents had warned would happen. Unfortunately nobody could find the horses.

In February, the two Texas horse slaughter plants closed after a long court battle with the state over a 1949 law prohibiting the sale of horse meat. Within weeks AP college basketball stringer Jeffrey McMurray did a shocking investigative report that was published around the world with titles such as Kentucky, land of the thoroughbred, swamped with unwanted horses!

The McMurray article was based on horses seen free grazing at a reclaimed strip mine in Eastern Kentucky. The only problem was that the horses were all privately owned and had not been abandoned. The Kentucky State Police and animal control officials immediately debunked the McMurray story but it raised such a furor that Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher responded with a letter saying it was “filled with inaccurate statements and information.”

Undeterred by these denials, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a leading horse slaughter proponent, sent the McMurray article to its member veterinarians as proof that they had been right all along about the dire effects of a ban on horse slaughter. So were these stories more of the same? After extensive research, our findings indicate that confirmed cases of abandoned horses rank somewhere between the number of sightings of the Lock Ness monster and those of Big Foot, but without the solid photographic evidence. Starting with the story about the horses becoming such a “dilemma” for Oregon’s ranchers one has only to read beyond the sensationalized headline to see it was based on a staggering nine (9) horses that had shown up at a ranch in Oregon. More tellingly they had shown up over a 24 month period, putting their appearance at the ranch before the U.S. slaughter plants were even closed.

But the Oregonian story has worse problems. Horse abandonment is a crime, and Cockle quoted Malheur County Undersheriff Brian Wolfe as saying he tried to determine the owners of such animals but that they were rarely branded. This implied that Wolfe had investigated the incident. When contacted, Wolfe said he knew nothing of the situation. Official reports showed only three cases involving horses since 2005; a case of an injured horse found on an abandoned property with other animals, a case of a horse carcass dropped at a gravel pit and a report of an abandoned horse which was determined to be unfounded.

So our investigation turned to those picnic wrecking horses being turned loose in the Ohio parks. The President of the Ohio Horse Council responded to our enquires saying that he never made the statement on the record but that he had “heard” that horses had been turned loose in the Perry Forest. Perry Forest officials said that no horses had been abandoned there.

Next we checked with every agency in North Carolina that governs forest or park lands and found no record of abandoned horses. So we contacted the North Carolina Horse Council about their claim. They were helpful but could only recall that the number (actually 90,000) had come from the American Horse Council, possibly as an email that “probably no longer existed.”

Thanks to the American Horse Council for the Report By this point we had estimates ranging from 90,000 to 320,000 abandoned horses and most seemed to be attributed to the American Horse Council. I contacted Sara Chase, the AHC Director of Communications to ask how the estimate/s were made and which estimate was correct. Ms. Chase stated for the record that neither the AHC nor their Unwanted Horse Coalition had ever put out a number, and that none of those quotes should have ever been made!
Meanwhile, Harper’s Magazine quoted Pat Evans of Utah State University Veterinary Sciences Department as saying that more horses are being abandoned now that the slaughter houses were closed. But when asked for her sources Dr. Evans declined to disclose them. So we contacted every appropriate state agency in Utah. We found no documented cases of abandoned horses there either.
Unfortunately, the impression that all these baseless stories and their tabloid style headlines convey persists long after they are disproved. If you can produce enough smoke people will believe there has to be a fire, and as Joseph Goebbels observed, people will believe a big lie sooner than a small one.

Ironically, even if these stories were true they would tell us nothing about the impact of closing the horse slaughter outlet because it has not been closed. American horses are merely going over the borders to slaughter in Mexico and Canada in nearly the same numbers (down just 17%) as before the closings.

The question is what is likely to happen when Congress passes HR.503 / S.311 and really ends the slaughter of our horses? To predict that future we have only to look at the past, and it is this historical record that has the pro-slaughter forces pumping out smoke screens because it directly contradicts their fear mongering.

For example, in 1989 the USDA reported 379,571 American horses were slaughtered or exported for slaughter. By 2002 that number had plunged to just 77,713 as a result of reduced demand for their meat. There was no government sponsored rescue effort and no documented increase in either neglect or abandonment.

Likewise, when the Cavel horse slaughter plant in Illinois burned on Easter Sunday in 2002, it took about 40% of U.S. horse slaughter capacity off line for over two years. Yet, the year after the fire the number of cases of abuse and neglect reported by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (which had doubled in the three years before the fire) actually went down.

None of this is to say we are not facing a hard winter, but horse owners have seen worse. "Last year in Texas we had a horrible hay shortage when stocks were depleted by the commercial suppliers," said Steven Long, author, and Vice President of the Greater Houston Horse Council. "Not only did we suffer a hay shortage, we had a frightening water shortage when the stock tanks dried up. Yet I don't know of a single case of an abandoned horse."

John Holland is a freelance writer and the author of three books. He frequently writes on the subject of horse slaughter from his small farm in the mountains of Virginia, where he lives with his wife, Sheilah, and their 10 horses.