Saturday, September 29, 2012

Straight from the Horse's Heart

 Posted: September 29, 2012 by R.T. Fitch 
OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ volunteer president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
“There is a foul odor blowing in from the west 
and it is not the smell ” of fresh ink!

Wild Horses in Holding ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
In the past 36 hours there has been a whirlwind of hysteria swirling around an incomplete article on captured American wild horses and burros being sent to slaughter under the watchful eye of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the very agency charged with protecting these national treasures.  David Philipps published said article on what is touted to be an investigative piece on the possibility of a kill buyer purchasing captured wild horses from the BLM and then shipping them off to slaughter but Philipps grievously failed to wait for the story to conclude with final proof and verification of exactly when, how and where the horses actually went.  His itchy trigger finger, and that of an alleged wild horse advocate, has resulted in outing an investigation that could have had significant legal merit and long term benefit for the wild equines and all for what?  Easy answer; money, ego and the chance to be in the spotlight with the wild horses and burros, once again, being the victims and paying the price.
In the course of preparing his article Philipps had contacted several longtime, legitimate equine advocates for information, background stats and FOIA data but in exchange for those resources Philipps was:

  • made aware that a premature publication of an article, without documented proof of where the horses actually ended up (not just assumptions) would compromise other investigations.
  • told about Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Martha Mendoza, who did gather all the facts in her investigations.
  • advised to have verifiable documentation and to have all his ducks in a row before he “broke” this story.

Didn’t happen!
This is not a game.  It is about the wild horses, burros and the brave people who voluntarily put their lives on the line to investigate the operations of kill buyers like Dennis Chavez.
Dave Philips made phone calls.  He called Tom Davis directly.  He called people in Kinney County, Texas, where the horses “appeared” to be shipped, to ask if anyone had seen a lot of horses on any of the local ranches.  He seemed to lack the foresight (or guidance) to see that this would “tip off” the locals, and make it harder for those in the field to track the movement of the shipments of the wild horses and to observe hauling and the drop off points.
Carelessness like this puts the lives of investigators in the field at risk and does not encompass the big picture of shutting this blood trade down once and for all.
The end result of what occurred above produced nothing more than a “he said, she said” tale that touches on some verifiable facts but, in the end, misses the entire point.
What will this limited information accomplish?  Will the BLM, which acts with impunity, just continue its shell game by replacing Tom Davis with another hauler?  The BLM’s investigation of Tom Davis seems to be another internal investigation, and we know what happens with those.  Will Sally Spencer be fired?  Will the BLM stop?  What next?
And what of the alleged advocate(s) who immediately jumped upon the coattails of Philipps in an effort to twist a spotlight in their direction.  One such individual went so far as to post the article on their website with an inserted preamble declaring that their “organization” was instrumental in in this “investigation” while closing with another panhandling plea for, once again, money to support a personal lifestyle and NOT going to help the horses.
But the smell of collusion does not stop there; enter Madeline Pickens from stage left within a few hours of the article’s publication she issued an email blast to her fans of the Mustang “Tombstone” project, it appeared as if she almost knew the publication was coming, hmmm.
Mrs. Pickens stated:
“Please see the article below by Dave Phillips that was just released this afternoon in ProPublica. This establishes that our wild horses are in a state of emergency. This proves beyond a reasonable doubt that we need to move these horses to safer places, as opposed to slaughter. Saving America’s Mustangs has for years now offered and presented an alternative to this slaughter horror show, and yet we continue to wait for the government to sign off on a plan that will provide a whole new direction for the wild horses. There is little doubt there is an another alternative that can save these horses better than what we have presented. The BLM knows it, the American people know it, and we have known this for a longtime. It’s now up to the BLM and the American public to approve this plan and do the right thing and give these horses a safe and secure home like they deserve.   Sincerely,  Madeleine Pickens
It certainly appears as if Mrs. Pickens is eager to have the Saving America’s Mustangs eco-resort plan seen as the only answer to Tom Davis hauling wild horses to who knows where.   Mrs. Picken’s eco-resort plan, based on information given to the public, is to have 900 geldings (a non-reproducing herd) put on her eco-resort, likely resulting in the eradication of 3 Herd Management Areas and the rest of the wild horses on those HMAs that will then be removed and sent to short and long term holding and at risk of going to slaughter.  “Doink”
We have another idea:
What about keeping family bands of wild horses on their OWN legally designated HMAs?
And what about the “alleged” advocate(s) (above) that immediately jumped upon this incomplete “slaughter expose’” bandwagon along with Madeleine?  Aren’t they the same ones who have received gifts of money and goods from Mrs. Pickens?  Are they not tied to her, even now, and under her influence due to their indebtedness?  Would they have a clear, concise, unfettered view of the “big picture”?  Do their operations/organizations and backgrounds stand up to minimal and legal public scrutiny?  The plot thickens and with each layer of the onion you peel it gets uglier and uglier.  Beware; there are those who walk amongst us who are not what you perceive them to be.
That’s enough said about that but let me make it perfectly clear that we have been screaming from the rooftops that this has been going on for years and just when it appears the facts might finally be obtained and the operation legitimately exposed a couple of fringe individuals crawl out of the woodwork, scream “look at me”, beg for money and gut an investigation that could have actually helped and saved the lives of tens of thousands of wild horses.  The more you think about it, the more disgusting it gets.
On both sides, folks, it’s all about the money…and NOT about the wild horses and burros.

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