anuary 18, 2012
By Steven Long
Photo by Julie Caramante
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – More than 30 slaughter bound horses are likely to arrive soon in the border town of Presidio, Texas after enduring a wreck that landed their cattle trailer on its side along a busy interstate highway. The city of 4,639 sits on the Rio Grande River border with Mexico. The town is home to the C-4 feedlot, a holding facility for slaughter bound horses south of the border, the animal’s possible destination, the kill box in Ojinaga, Mexico.
The 35 horses were traveling through Tennessee on I-40 Monday when the driver of the tractor trailer truck, Mance Reed, went to sleep at the wheel resulting in 35 horses panic stricken and trapped in the trailer laying on its side. Three horses were euthanized after the wreck, but 32 continued on their journey to Texas.
The incident has again sparked anti-slaughter advocates to call for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, legislation that is annually introduced in Congress but has never been enacted into law. Many blame Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D) Nevada, a horse slaughter proponent for blocking passage.
Yet Reid may well face negative public opinion in this election year from a group that is much more powerful than timid senators and congressmen who have annually given lip service to the bill but boast a failure rate getting the popular legislation passed and signed by the president of zero.
In survey after survey, more than 70 percent of all Americans have said they oppose horse slaughter for human consumption. The United Federation of Teachers Humane Education Committee has lent its considerable clout to an effort by the Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance to inspire a children’s letter writing campaign to Washington politicians supporting passage of the AHSPA.
Such a children’s campaign secured passage of the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act under the leadership of Reno’s Velma Johnson, affectionately known as “Wild Horse Annie.” The legislation set aside sanctuaries in the western states for the North American Mustang and wild donkeys. The campaign resulted in the only unanimous votes in both houses of Congress in recent memory.
In a stealth midnight move three years ago Reid and former Sen. Conrad Burns (R) Montana, removed protections for the wild horses, and this year during a last minute budget vote a prohibition against funding of federal meat inspectors in American slaughterhouses was removed. The move has sparked a flurry of wishful thinking in the meat industry lusting for new markets in Europe and Asia.
The Tennessee horses were in route from Three Angels Farm in Lebanon, a facility holding hundreds of animals and believed to be a holding station for slaughter bound horses. The owner of the farm confirmed to a Nashville television station he was involved in incidents at the Presidio feed lot late last year that sparked investigations by Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez, the Texas Animal Health Commission, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The television station also reported the Tennessee owner of the horses is under investigation for transporting horses to Texas without proper documentation.
Horseback confirmed with Texas Animal Health Commission investigator Richard Wagner late last year that the same Coggins certificates were repeatedly used for horses coming into the C-4 lot. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is still investigating whether the horses involved in the I-40 wreck had proper paperwork. The firm transporting the horses has had a spotty record of passing state safety inspections including at least one incident of trucks being removed from the road Nashville’s Channel 4 reported.
The C-4 lot was given a slap on the wrist by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality after dead and dying horses were found in a dry creek bed leading to the Rio Grande. The flash flood prone stream had nearly 100 carcasses in varying stages of decomposition during the height of hurricane season when flooding can hit the state at any time.
The Equine Welfare Alliance has also charged that horses rejected as too ill or thin for slaughter have been dumped by killer buyers in Southwestern states.