Saturday, May 16, 2009

Horse slaughter dream a financial nightmare

Horse slaughter gut piles at Natural Valley Farms, Canada
Contacts: John Holland
Vicki Tobin

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

"Nebraska 200" Need to Leave Fairgrounds by May 9th

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


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

Vote in Favor of H.R. 1018 (R.O.A.M.) and the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503/S. 727).

Sheryl Crow & Viggo Mortensen lend their support and knowledge for preserving the last few remaining free roaming wild horses and burros in America. Informing the viewer on the tragedy of over 33,000 wild horses being held in government holding facilities. More wild horses are in captivity then remain in the wild.

The PSA informs viewers on how they can contact their federal legislators urging them to vote in Favor of H.R. 1018 (R.O.A.M.) and the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503/S. 727).

The haunting profound aesthetic powerful images of America’s last remaining wild horse herds will resonate in the hearts and minds of viewers forever. Director James Kleinert captured many of these profound creatures in the wild and tragically being brutally rounded up for removal and sent to wild horse concentration camps where they now await their possible death sentence.

click here to watch:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Could This Be Why Horse Theft Appears To Be On The Rise?

March 18, 2009 at 17:52:21

Prices soaring for unwanted horses
by John Holland

The auctions call them “loose” horses because they are run through the auction ring without riders and are sold mostly to “killer buyers”. Slaughter advocates including the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) call them “unwanted” horses because they clog up the market for new foals and new registration fees. But whatever you call them, they are suddenly in increasingly short supply.
The last three horse slaughter plants in the US were closed in 2007, but the industry quickly shifted to exporting the horses for slaughter in Canada and Mexico. By the middle of 2008, there were more horse slaughter houses killing American horses than at any time in the past decade. Yet the closings galvanized the meat packing industry which saw them as a dangerous victory for “animal rights advocates” and their perceived “vegan agenda”.
Within weeks of the first closings, countless anecdotal stories began appearing about how America is awash in unwanted horses. Lawmakers in almost a dozen agricultural states have put forward initiatives aimed at bringing slaughter back to the US, based largely on these accounts. But the actual sales statistics from the horse auctions tell a very different story.
For example the New Holland auction in Pennsylvania is one of the largest slaughter auctions in the country. In October of 2008, they sold a total of 815 slaughter grade horses at an average price of $323, but despite rapidly worsening economic conditions, by February that number had dropped by 28% to 582 horses and the average price had risen by 31.6% to $425. It is largely the same story at auctions across the country.
Leroy Baker, owner of the Sugar Creek Auction in Ohio, has been heard publicly assigning the shortage of sellers to bad publicity including an HBO documentary about race horses going to slaughter through his auction.
Moreover, the USDA recently fined Baker an unprecedented $162,800 for numerous violations of the Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Act (CTESA). The act prohibits the transport to slaughter of late term pregnant mares, foals, blind horses and horses that cannot support their weight on all four legs; prohibits the use of double deck trailers; and specifies minimal rest and feeding intervals.
And Baker has not been the only source of bad publicity for the horse slaughter industry. In response to a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, the USDA recently disclosed 900 pages of photos documenting some of the grizzliest violations imaginable that occurred at the Texas slaughter plants prior to their being ordered closed in 2007.
The photos, which were taken in an attempt to enforce compliance with the CTESA, show horses with horrific injuries ranging from severed legs to crushed skulls. Still other photos show blind horses, newborn foals and even a mare standing on the unloading docks with her placenta still draping to the manure covered floor.
The exposure of these photos was a double embarrassment to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medicine Association). The evidence surfaced just as the AVMA was getting traction on a well financed PR campaign to convince lawmakers that the US plants should be reopened because they had been more humane.
Every indication is that the supply of unwanted horses will only get worse because production has been destroyed. The reason for this lies in the nature of the source of slaughter horses.
Contrary to popular perception, most horses sent to slaughter are not old, but young and healthy. They are largely the “culls” from an industry that over breeds in a quest for perfection. When times are good, the profits are made on the best foals and the culls (be they slow race horses or simply horses of the wrong color) are dumped to slaughter.
But the market for top grade riding and performance horses has tanked, once again proving the old adage “The best way to make a small fortune in horses is to start with a large one.” So breeders have cut back. With less breeding there are fewer culls.
Some breeders liquidated in response to the low horse prices and high feed prices, while still others were forced out of the business when their properties were lost to foreclosure.
A Kentucky breeder, for example, gave away his entire prized Arab bloodline to keep the horses from going to slaughter.
And the “kill auctions” are losing yet another source of horses. Slammed by bad publicity, an increasing number of horse tracks have put in place “zero tolerance” programs that ban owners and trainers caught selling their horses to slaughter. In October, the Magna Entertainment Corporation announced that all nine of their tracks would have a zero tolerance policy and they were quickly joined by at least three other tracks.
Kill buyers have adapted to the shortage in a number of ways, including placing ads on sites like Craig’s List. In one memorable case, a kill buyer and his wife showed up at the seller’s house saying they thought the horse would be a perfect starter horse for their young daughter. The horse was a Thoroughbred (racing) stallion.
But there remains one possible reservoir of unwanted horses. Since the first plants were closed in Texas, there have been countless unsubstantiated stories about horses being abandoned. Some slaughter advocates have estimated that as many as 170,000 such horses were abandoned just last year. This valuable pool of unwanted horses could serve as a kind of “petroleum reserve” for the horse slaughter industry if only they could be found. And for that matter, there are always the unicorns.
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 12 equines. Holland is a charter member of the Equine Welfare Alliance and serves as senior analyst for Americans Against Horse Slaughter, an organization composed entirely of volunteers.
John Holland

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Make a Video and You May Win $1000.00 for The Horse Rescue of Your Choice!

YouTube Horse Slaughter Contest
From AlexBrownRacing
Jump to: navigation, search
1 The Contest
2 The Rules
3 Determining the winner
4 Entries
5 Media Coverage
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The Contest
Alex Brown Racing is sponsoring a YouTube contest that will run from Tuesday, February 10 to Sunday May 10 2009. We will offer a $1,000 prize, to be sent to the horse rescue organization of choice of the winning entry, as of Noon eastern time, May 10, 2009. All entries are to be completed, posted and approved, by Noon on Friday April 10, 2009.
Entrants must read and be familiar with the document: Deconstructing the Horse Slaughter Issue: Chapter Horse Slaughter.
The Rules
Anyone can enter, regardless of age and country of origin.
Each video is to be 1 - 4 minutes in length.
Each video discusses specific aspects of the horse slaughter issue as noted in the above document, whether it is to agree, reinforce or disagree with the issues noted in the document.
Each video must be without gory details, PG 13 please.
Each video must use the phrase "horse slaughter" in the title, and the video must be tagged with the phrase "horse slaughter". The video should also be tagged with the phrase "ABR Video Contest".
Each entrant (video producer) can produce as many videos as he or she desires.
Each entrant needs to add his or her videos to the ABR YouTube group and e-mail Wendy.
Wendy needs to approve each entrant for the contest prize via adding a comment to the video (see the rule re: no gory details).
To be eligible a video must be completed and posted by end of day, April 10, 2009 and must be new content as of February 10, 2009.
All submissions must comply with Youtube's Copyright Infringement Policy:
"YouTube respects the rights of copyright holders and publishers and requires all users to confirm they own the copyright or have permission from the copyright holder to upload content. We comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other applicable copyright laws and promptly remove content when properly notified. Repeat infringers' videos are removed and their accounts are terminated and permanently blocked from using YouTube." If you have questions about how to comply with this policy, please visit:
Determining the winner
The winner will be determined by multiplying the number of comments the video received, by the rating of the video. And then adding the number of views of the video. This calculation will be made at Noon eastern, May 10, 2009
Horse Slaughter: Our Forgotten Veterans Deserve Better BrookePSU
Horse Play - Saving Horses From Slaughter horseplayri
No More Horse Slaughter horsesrule925
End Horse Slaughter thoroughbredlover3
Another Chance: Saved from Horse Slaughter millertime83
Please Stop Horse Slaughter sandyelmore490
Horse Heroes - Stop Horse Slaughter wendyu1
Media Coverage
Friday Fun: For the Heart, Head & Soul Diva Marketing Blog, February 28, 2009
Youtube Horse Slaughter - $1000 - Open to all - 1 to 4 minutes - Over Due: May 10th, 2009 The Video Contest Community, February 26, 2009
Teaching An Old Horse New Tricks Triple Dead Heat, February 17, 2009
Horse Slaughter Video Contest
Video contest on horse slaughter issue Horsetalk, February 11, 2009
Videos To Stop Killing The Horse Racing Stars Triple Dead Heat, February 11, 2009
Horse slaughter...Have your say Gathering The Wind, February 11, 2009
Bright Future Thoroughblog (bottom of entry), February 11, 2009
Breaking News Texas Horse Talk, February 11, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Agriculture Associations Misrepresent Horse Slaughter!

Equine Welfare Alliance
Contacts: John Holland & Vicki Tobin

Agriculture Associations Misrepresent Horse Slaughter

CHICAGO, (EWA) - At a time when Americans are experiencing the worst economic period in most of our life-times, Cattle and Agriculture Associations have taken the economic downturn as an opportunity to further the agenda of promoting horse slaughter. The word slaughter has been replaced with the word “Harvest” to portray crops that have ripened and need to be gleaned. Although there is no market in the US for the crop, proponents of this fraud want to ensure healthy horses are killed so there is a continuous supply of meat on the hoof that must continually be shipped to overseas markets that Americans do not own nor profit. This is referred to as the never ending cycle of breed and dump.

Using a benign word such as Harvest, a word we all cherish, is an insult and outrage to horse lovers everywhere. This fraud attempts to reduce the horse, the animal which in partnership with man built this nation – attempts to reduce the horse to a commodity such as corn, wheat, barley, or oats.

Not only are the cattle and agriculture associations promoting horse “harvesting” but organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) are often quoted and named in their articles and speeches as supporters and misuse the word harvest to portray a cruel process which they attempt to mask with a word with pleasant associations in the American vocabulary..

These are the very organizations that are entrusted to promote equine welfare and care. They are organizations that have seen recent results of three year long U.S. Department of Agriculture Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) probe by animal cruelty investigator Julie Caramante which resulted in the release of photos and reports from investigations of the department that clearly depict the cruelty and abuse inherent with the entire horse killing process FOIA Reports. The three year cover-up by the USDA has been dubbed by some in the media “Slaughtergate”. It is hardly a harvest.

Horses are not food animals in America. They are trusted work, service, sport, therapy and companion animals. It is time for Americans to stand up and end the hold the predatory foreign market has on the American Equine Industry. It is time for Americans to stand up and let their legislators know that horses are not crops, and that it is imperative that The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009 be passed swiftly and without hesitation by the Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

Horses are not a vegetable crop. They aren’t even food. Would you harvest your dog, your cat, or yes, even your gerbil? Tell these organizations it’s just fine to promote their belief that killing horses for profit is the American way, but at least they should be honest in the language they use to describe this unspeakably cruel act where horses are hung upside down to bleed to death after their throat is cut, an act in which their hooves are often removed while they are still conscious.

For information on legislative activity, visit: Legislative Activity

Monday, February 23, 2009

Open Letter to Legislators from Paula Bacon, former Mayor of Kaufman Texas says it all! Please contact you Reps and ask them to co-sponsor HR503!

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.
Dallas Crown had a very long history of violations to their industrial waste permit, ‘loading' the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant.
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.
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.
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.
Transport of offal and fresh hides on City and state thoroughfares is conducted in leaking containers without covers.
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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
325-665-2043 cell