Thursday, August 18, 2011

Update: Presido, TX Horses

Possible Strangles Outbreak Reported at Presidio Horse Death Pens

August 18, 2011
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Horseback Magazine has learned through photographs that the beleaguered slaughter pens at Presidio, Texas may be experiencing an outbreak of strangles, a highly contagious equine olfactory and respiratory disease that can spread rapidly through an entire horse population. It takes weeks, and sometimes months, to eradicate.
Law enforcement officials in the West Texas county of fewer than 8,000 residents told Horseback Online that several cases, both civil and criminal are being investigated regarding horses in the pens, including animal cruelty cases.
“There is a great chance by the picture evidence that there may be a strangles
outbreak at the pen,” said Ray Field of the Franklin, Texas based Wild Horse Foundation. Field discovered big trouble at the pens early last week during a fly over when he spotted dead horses laying with living animals during a fly over.
Later more dead horses were found dumped in a flash flood prone creek in the Cibolo watershed less than a mile from the Rio Grande River. Just downstream is the popular Santa Elena Canyon popular with tubers, kayakers, canoeists, and rafters.
Strangles is a serious equine disease that can sometimes be fatal if not treated.
“If this is true that there is strangles in the pens, we need to get TAHC to look and tell us definitively no,” he said.
The Texas Animal Health Commission investigator who was in Presidio at the pens last week said, “As far as I know, strangles is not a reportable disease.”
TAHC confirmed it will check on the situation in Presidio, however, the agency has suffered a severe budget cutback, is short handed, and is laying off personnel.
TAHC also confirmed to Horseback last week that horses are routinely sent across the border with the wrong Coggins documents.
“The papers don’t match the horse,” the investigator said.
Thus far, no action has been taken or arrests made in the ongoing cases.
The horses are housed in a pen where animals bound for slaughter in Mexico are temporarily sent before being moved across the border to be killed. The meat is then shipped across the globe.
“These three picture are serious clues to the outbreak being
untreated maybe sending infected horses across the border,” Field said. “This would be
both a State and Federal issue. Diseased horses make it across
international borders to killer horse plants, then the plants would have to
be shut down to decontaminate the facility from processing diseased horses
and possibly who are getting this into meat for human consumption.”
Presidio County Chief Deputy Joel Nunez told Horseback Online that as far as he knows, the horses have not received veterinary care.
“There are several cases open on this with these horses,” Nunez said. “There is an animal cruelty case, illegal disposal of animal carcasses, plus a civil case that we know of. I’ve taken a personal interest in this case. I am a horse person.
“Agents from the USDA are working with us,” he continued.
Several horses were photographed with fly infested injuries, some serious.
“The injuries are being taken care of,” Nunez said. “We’ve ordered the owner and workers to take care of them. We’re out there every day.”
It is unknown if any local veterinarians have been called to treat the injured and diseased horses.
Presidio often is cited as having the hottest temperatures in the nation. The forecast for Thursday is 103 with a relentless West Texas sun beating down on the horses backs.
Among the animals being held in the pens bound for slaughter are about 30 highly coveted Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison horses sold as culls at a Huntsville, Texas auction.

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