Monday, October 1, 2012

How do you commit a crime in the US and get away with it? If you transport horses to a Mexican slaughter plant, you simply cross the border.

Animals' Angels

Investigation Updates
October 1, 2012

AA has just returned from a ten day investigation of multiple export facilities & feedlots in Texas. A vastly increased number of slaughter-bound horses was observed, proving the known horse slaughter figures to be disturbingly underestimated. Equine protection laws and regulations continue to be broken and violated, with little regard given to horses embarking a slaughter house death.
Mare on slaughter truckSickness, infections, and injuries are all still unvarying incidences. Private pens in both Presidio and Eagle Pass are owned/managed byknown kill buyers, enabling horses to disappear secretively, or for the thin, sick and injured to be disposed of quickly.

The handling forsome horses was cruel and merciless, while the treatment of downed horses was revolting and vile. Dead horses were found in both border towns, and photographs of rejected slaughter horses are shameful.

This newsletter defines infuriating violations witnessed in Eagle Pass that require immediate action. The Presidio/Mexico report will follow soon.
Mexican transport trucks 
For three days,  investi-gators monitored theTDA Eagle Pass Export pens. Each day, hundreds of horses were delivered in the morning, vet-inspected throughout the day, and reloaded in the afternoon only to park in a dry lot for several hours.

There, the horses sit fully exposed to the desert sun, with temperatures reaching an excess of 90 degrees. They are tightly confined inside packed trailers that provide little to no air flow, before finally crossing the border on their way to the slaughterhouse in the evening.

Horses inside pens Investigators observed approximately 25 loads arriving and departing, and documented the handling of horses and the conditions of the pens. Most of the holding pens seen did not have any shelter, and contained only one round bale of hay.Investigators observed submissive, but hungry, horses being bitten and kicked as they attempted to near the round bale being guarded by the dominant horses already eating. The horses in each of the pens were in a constant state of movement, and fighting between horses was continually seen. Several horses were notably limping, some were heard coughing non-stop, others had eye infections, and many observed were very thin.

Chula Vista Investigators were able to locate the additional set of slaughter horse pens AA had been searching for, at the Chula Vista Training Center. This facility is operated bylong-time kill buyers Raul and Albert Benavides (d/b/a B&B Livestock), who use a transfer truck/trailer to move horses to and from the TDA pens. Investigators filmed a full pen of slaughter tagged horses being sprayed with a white solution (believed to be for de-ticking) on their bodies and faces; with the worker spraying one horse directly in the eyes. Several of the horses were very thin, and some had freshly stitched wounds. Additional pens full of horses were found closer to the racetrack. One horse observed was down and appeared dead.

driver of Chula Vista downer  September 21st proved to be quite a maddening day, as investigators witnessed three downed horses on two separate loads. In the morning, the Chula Vista transfer truck was followed from the racetrack to the TDA export  pens. While documenting the truck's route, the investigators noticed a downed horse being trampled at the rear of the fully loaded trailer.

The investigators pulled up next to the passenger of the truck and
informed him that he had a downed horse. The driver pulled the truck over and investigators told him that the horse needed to be offloaded at the TDA export pens immediately. Upon arrival at the pens, investigators expressed their concern about the downed horse to pen manager Perez, and asked for permission to watch the horses unload. Their request was denied. Investigators left the office and resumed filming.

downer 1 Later in the evening, and after sitting in the parking lot filming the fully loaded trailers for over three  hours, investigators noticed a driver banging on the sides of one of the trailers. Two more drivers gathered on the far side of the trailer trying to remain hidden from the investigators' views.

One of the drivers began repeatedly stabbing a sharp, metal-ended, poker forcefully inside the trailer. Investigators immediately ran to the trailer and saw the violent distress of two horses that had gone down and were struggling.

downer 2Investigators watched as both horses attempted to rise without sufficient room to do so. Every time one horse tried to get up, the horses standing over it were forced to rear up inside the trailer to find their own footing. The only footing
available, however, was atop the bodies of the downed horses. Fresh injuries and blood were immediately visible. This desperate struggle lasted for several minutes, with one horse finally being able to stand. Unfortunately, the second horse quit trying and quietly laid as other horses continued to crush him.

Investigators attempted to communicate with all 8 drivers, but quickly discovered that none spoke English (which is a DOT violation). Investigators called the Eagle Pass police department, requesting assistance to have the driver return to the export pens to both offload the downed horse, and seek veterinary care.

Truck heading to Mexico A conversation occurred between a female at the Eagle Pass PD and one of the drivers in Spanish, and within moments all 8 trucks left the dry lot. Investigators followed the driver believing that the horse would be offloaded at the export pens as requested.

 To the investigators' surprise, the trucks instead drove straight to the border crossing just one short mile away. Defiantly, the driver fled across the border, knowing that he would be out of reach.

Throughout this event, investigators were on the phone with local police only to be told that there was nothing to be done, and were then instructed to call Border Patrol. When the phone call wasn't answered, investigators literally ran to the border and into a Border Patrol office in attempt to get the truck stopped. Border Patrol was very responsive, but investigators learned that although the loaded trucks were still sitting on the International Bridge, they had already crossed into Mexican territory.

Export Pen SignHelpless,  investigators immediately returned to the TDA pens to discuss the violations with pen manager Ricardo Perez hoping he would instruct the driver to return. To their surprise, the TDA pens had been gated shut and closed for the weekend, which is completely unacceptable. The TDA pens should remain open until all transport trucks have crossed into Mexico in case an emergency situation arises just as this.

Background: In 2011, Ricardo Perez told investigators the TDA pens close nightly at 5:00pm. No horse or truck is permitted to be on the property after that time. When asked why the transporters park for hours fully loaded, Perez stated that the paperwork for transport needed to be cleared by the Mexican Department of Agriculture before the horses could cross the border.

Grey mare inside trailer If this lengthy clearance procedure is in fact true, it needs to be changed immediately.

While waiting for the go-ahead, the horses are confined on sealed trailers for over three hours, which is completely unacceptable

The irritated horses are in direct afternoon sunlight with exterior temperatures averaging 98 degrees in the late summer months. On this particular day, the temperature was 92 degrees. Exterior temperatures combined with overcrowded metal trailers, still air and body heat create dramatically higher interior trailer temperatures. Dehydration and exhaustion are easily reached in environments such as this, and stress, confinement and discomfort unnecessarily violate the exact regulations set in place to protect the horses.

Horse down in trailer The driver with the downed horses continually made bad decisions and committed serious violations against the Commercial Transport of Equines for Slaughter Regulations, which still apply while on American soil. The driver had the option to offload the horses at the Chula Vista Race Track when the TDA pens were closed, but instead chose to flee to the border. He accepted the fact that the downed horse would likely die during transport, and created a torturous and dangerous situation for the horses standing around it.

This particular investigation will be used for a large scale, international anti-horse slaughter campaign beginning in the Spring of 2013. We will steadfastly continue to bring increased attention to the southern border states of TX and NM, as the suffering of slaughter-bound horses has reached an all-time high. Animals' Angels has already filed complaints and alerted USDA about the violations witnessed during this investigation and all the evidence has been sent to the highest levels for review.

(Warning - Extremely graphic content that might be disturbing to some viewers)

Animals' Angels needs your assistance today!

Please help us increase the pressure on Texas Department of Agriculture authorities by calling and/or emailing Todd Staples(Commissioner)  and Jon Garza.  

Contact information:

Mr. Todd Staples

Mr. Jon Garza
Director, Commodity Reporting & Livestock Exports

  • Politely tell him to use his influence to instruct pen operator, Ricardo Perez, to provide access to hay and shelter for EVERY horse.
  • Ask him to prohibit the use inadequate trailer at his export facilities, and immediately ban the use of any and all sharpened pokers on the horses.
  • Ask him to tighten procedures, so the horses are not sitting on fully loaded trailers for hours in the hot afternoon sun, and request that all TDA facilities remain open until the horses have crossed into Mexico in case of emergencies.
  • Most importantly, please tell him to increase cooperation with USDA and instruct pen personnel to document and report violations of the Commercial Transport of Equines for Slaughter Regulations (9 CFR 88).
Thank you so much!

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