Monday, April 29, 2013


Animals' Angels

Sugarcreek Auction Update 

Sugarcreek Auction, located in the heart of Amish Country in Ohio, is one of the best known slaughter auctions in the United States. Every Friday, kill buyers gather and purchase approximately 95% of all horses that go through the sale. One of them is Leroy Baker, the owner of Sugarcreek Auction. Leroy Baker is a large scale kill buyer who has been in the horse slaughter business for many years. In 2012 alone, Baker purchased 8176 horses in Ohio.


He has an astonishing long list of violations of humane laws, and commercial transport of equines to slaughter regulations.He has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines as a result of these violations.

Our investigations and research reveal that Leroy Baker has been violating state and federal animal protection laws, as well as federal motor carrier safety regulations for many years.   We have filed countless complaints and several cases were brought against Baker, based on our evidence. However in many severe cases authorities declined to file charges, even when overwhelming evidence had been obtained. In 2008, USDA Administrative Law Judge Jill Clifton, ordered Baker to pay a fine of $162,800.00 for multiple violations of the Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Regulations. In 2010, the United States District Court/Northern Ohio District/Eastern Division increased the original penalty to $172,621.66 and issued a court order to garnish his wages & assets. However, it remains unclear how much of this fine has actually been paid.

Thanks to our supporters responding to a call for action in 2011, we were able to pressure Baker and his auction to clean up their act (see AA newsletter). Your voice makes a difference and directly impacted Baker's practices! There is strength in numbers and you, our supporters, clearly proved that. Sugarcreek authorities received thousands of calls from Animals' Angels supporters which prompted them to finally take action.
A meeting was held with Baker, Animals' Angels, and town officials (see AA newsletter).  It was agreed upon that certain improvements would be put into place immediately, all of which would greatly benefit the animals. Further, it was agreed upon that a Tuscarawas County Humane Officer would monitor the auction on a regular basis. We felt confident that these changes would have a positive effect on the animals passing through this auction.
Mare with fresh face injury 
Never one to trust promises made by Baker, or any other violator, we have conducted several follow up visits. At first we were pleased to see that certain improvements had indeed taken place. Horses were moved in smaller groups, pens were not overcrowded, and employees were not striking the horses in the face, which had previously been the norm. There were no extremely emaciated horses or those with bad injuries. Handling by the employees had improved and they seemed more professional in their demeanor.  

Despite these promising improvements, we recently heard that the humane officer apparently stopped attending the auction regularly and that subsequently Sugarcreek had slipped back to its old ways. This news prompted our recent investigation on 4/5/13. We wanted to check the status of the auction to see if the rumors were true. We actually found the overall handling to be satisfactory. Some of the smaller pens were overcrowded.

Horses moved to auctionn ring  

Investigators found one horse, with sales tags attached, in a large pen with a severe leg injury that was open down to the bone. The bone was exposed and visible. Investigators immediately brought this fact to the attention of what appeared to be the barn manager and he promised to have the vet look at it. This was at 11:30 a.m. Shortly after, an Amish worker took the injured horse and put it in Baker's kill pen, all the way in the back of the barn. There he sat among cows and calves, desperately calling to his friend.
This injured horse had been brought in with another horse who was apparently his buddy. They had been standing together in the previous pen, with the uninjured horse protecting him from the other horses. After the injured horse was moved, they called to each other across the barn in a most heartbreaking manner. Our investigators witnessed the veterinarian draw blood for Coggins Testing from horses in the pen right next to the injured horse. However, he never even bothered to look at the injury. Once the sale was over, the injured horse remained in the pen at the back of the barn. His friend was sold to slaughter. At 5:15 p.m., the horse was still standing in the pen with his injury unattended.
Seeking aid for the horse, our investigators contacted the Sugarcreek Police Department and informed Chief of Police, Kevin Kaser, about the situation. Chief Kaser was very helpful and sent an officer out right away to investigate. When the officer arrived, he found the horse in the pen and took photographs. Witness testimony showed that the horse came from Michigan and had been brought to the auction in this horrific condition. At this point, the officer made the decision to euthanize the horse.

A few days later, Animals' Angels received the police report & pictures from Chief Kaser. Further he assured us that all the information had been provided to Assistant District Attorney, Ms. Miller. Animals' Angels provided additional video and information to the Tuscarawas County Prosecutor's Office, urging them to investigate the matter. Furthermore, we have forwarded the police report and our evidence to the Michigan authorities to hold the original owner of the horse responsible.

Since then, we have received confirmation from the Prosecutor's Office that the materials have been received and that the information was shared with the law director for the Village of Sugarcreek Doug Fruetschy. According to Ms Miller, Doug Fruetschy is now the one in charge for prosecuting a criminal misdemeanor violation. Given the local history of not pursuing such cases, we sincerely hope that he will do the right thing now by filing charges against the auction. The investigation is currently ongoing; we will keep you posted on any development. We know we can count on you in case another call for action is needed.

Animals' Angels in the news in Mexico & Europe

Animals' Angels has made the news once again - this time in Mexico. Our investigations were featured on national TV in Mexico when one of the largest stations, Milenio Television,aired a strong anti-horse slaughter piece. The reporter specifically targeted the imports from the US citing the rampant, ongoing cruelty exposed by Animals' Angels at the Southwest Livestock Auction in New Mexico, as well as the Eagle Pass and Presidio export pens in Texas.


This is the first time that this issue has garnered the nationwide attention that it deserves. We wondered what type of an effect it would have on the viewing audience and were gratified to hear that the feedback the station has received since the show aired has been incredible. According to the news anchor, it was one of their most successful shows within the last five years.

As many of you know, the Swiss TV show Kassensturz also aired an explosive horse slaughter expose in February utilizing footage and documentation from Animals' Angels. When the expose first aired, it triggered grocers to immediately remove horsemeat products from their shelves and caused international outrage, prompting investigations into the import of US horsemeat.

To keep up the momentum, all new evidence from our recent Sugarcreek investigation, as well as a recent Tennessee investigation (to be released soon), was immediately shared with the investigative news magazine. Kassensturz promptly aired a follow up to their original expose this past week. This follow up will put additional pressure on those making the decisions about importing horsemeat, as well as keeping this topic at the forefront of the primary consumer's mind.

As we continue to expose the stark realities of the horse slaughter business, more and more people are coming to realize the extent of the misrepresentations by the pro-slaughter factions. Armed with the truth, more people than ever before are taking a stand against the cruelty and horror of horse slaughter. We maintain that if we can end the demand, the business will stop as the supply goes away. The fight is far from over. Animals' Angels will not stop fighting until horse slaughter, and the export of horses for slaughter, is banned in the United States.

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It's that simple. This could really add up and make a difference to our investigations! Sign up to receive their weekly e-mails with the latest on what chemicals to look out for, and helpful tips on reducing toxins in your home and help Animals' Angels at the same time! And remember, all products from Sound Earth are cruelty-free. Be sure to tell Sound Earth you heard about them from Animals' Angels!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Visit Us On Facebook!

As more and more of us are on Facebook, we have become much more active there. In fact, to reach all of our articles, you will have to visit there. We no longer post everything here, so to read more, PLEASE check us out on Facebook! Be sure to "like" and share!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Valley Meat USDA Walk-Through, Only

Straight from the Horse's Heart

“It doesn’t at all mean that there’s an approval of horse slaughter.”
valley_meatROSWELL, N.M. – Agents of the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a walk-through of Valley Meat Co. on Tuesday, days after the Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue submitted a notice of intent to sue if the agency agrees to provide inspections required for the facility to slaughter horses.
The walkthrough does not constitute a final determination for Valley Meat, according to attorney Bruce Wagman, a partner at the Schiff Hardin law firm who represents both potential plaintiffs.
“It means they did an inspection of the facility for certain criteria,” Wagman said. “It doesn’t at all mean that there’s an approval of horse slaughter. The walkthrough is part of a chain of events, sort of like saying once you get the nomination that you’re actually the president. You may get nominated, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to win.”
In their submission, Larkspur, Colo.-based Front Range Equine Rescue and the national Humane Society note that horse slaughter is a threat to the environment and to wildlife in the vicinity.
USDA activity related to Valley Meat is not necessarily affected by the notice of intent to sue, Wagman said. However, he emphasized that opening a horse slaughterhouse would require a final grant of inspection by the USDA, not just a walkthrough.
In threatening to sue, the organizations say wastewater and other slaughterhouse byproducts produced at Valley Meat could damage the habitats of several threatened or endangered species. That means more obstacles to approval for the plant, Wagman said.
“In order to approve the site as a slaughterhouse,” he said, “USDA is required to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service over the potential damage to those endangered species and their critical habitats.”
Valley Meat is located near the South Spring and Pecos rivers, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Bottomless Lakes State Park. Among species mentioned in the notice are the Pecos bluntnose shiner, three snail species and a freshwater shrimp.
Should the USDA give Valley Meat final approval, owner Ricardo De Los Santos still faces other obstacles. Wagman said plans to export the meat to eastern Europe and Asia would not comply with the New Mexico Food Act.
“Under New Mexico food law, horse meat is adulterated and cannot be sold,” he said. “You can’t sell it to somebody else, either. Doesn’t mean, ‘Oh, you can sell it to Europeans.’ It means it can’t be sold – period.”
Horse slaughter remains a hot topic in New Mexico. Renee Blake has some of the latest developments.
In the New Mexico Food Act, revised in 1993, Chapter 25, Article 2 refers to adulterated or misbranded food. The text is online at

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An End to Horse Breeding?

NY Times

To the Editor:
Commendably, “A New Destination for Status-Symbol Horses in Spain: The Abattoir” (Chapinería Journal, April 11) makes the case for an end to horse breeding, which creates a path to the slaughterhouse. Why, after all, should human beings assign other animals worth or worthlessness?
Viewed as status symbols by some and dinner by others, bred into commercial existence for racing, equestrian pursuits, carriage rides or other frivolous entertainment, horses have long been vulnerable to unchallenged greed and manipulation. But this should be challenged at every turn.
Meanwhile, policies for free-roaming horses on public lands should ensure that horses be allowed to live free. We have dominated horses long enough; it’s time to get off their backs.
New York Director
Friends of Animals
New York, April 11, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

U.S. Border Patrol: More Agents, More Fences, More Technology, More Horses?

ABC News


Immigration enforcement and drug smuggling continue to be top priorities for the Department of Homeland Security, and the Border Patrol's budget has swelled accordingly, increasing from just $262,647 in 1990 to over $3.5 million dollars in the 2012 fiscal year. They've added more agents, more technology, and higher fences.
Despite such progress, human smugglers and drug traffickers have simply pushed further into mountainous, difficult terrain to avoid detection.
That's where horses come in.
Since the Border Patrol was founded in 1924, horseback patrols have been widely utilized. In fact, mounted patrols are said to have begun as early as 1904, in El Paso, where men on horseback policed against Chinese immigrants. Horse patrol units now exist along the border in various sectors, through California, Arizona, and Texas.
In the San Diego sector, the Horse Patrol unit is based out Imperial Beach. The unit's office is housed in a dull brown portable trailer, and 35 four-legged "vehicles" live within a nearby beige building. Each stall is outfitted with individual turnout paddocks.
Agents on the unit are tasked with everything from riding on patrol to mucking stalls, and general horse care. Their days, they say, are typically well over eight hours long. It's common for mounted agents in the San Diego sector to trailer their horses to the east, where they typically work during the night.
Just 18 of San Diego's 2,623 border patrol agents ride on the horse patrol, a popular and competitive detail. Jaime Cluff, the supervisory agent in charge, says the horse patrol is an important recruiting tool for the Border Patrol.
Border patrol agents from San Diego Imperial Beach unit use horses to access remote, rugged areas.
Erin Siegal ABC/Univision
Monica Slack is a mounted agent and riding instructor with a decade of experience working for the agency. "We spend a lot of time together, 10-12 hrs a day, 5 days a week," she says. "So, we do well with each other."
And agency-wide, the use of horses is apparently on the rise. According to statistics on the Customs of Border Patrol website, in 2011, there were 334 horse units in the Border Patrol. That's a 33 percent rise from 2008.
Yet the Border Patrol refused to say why more horses are being used—or how effective horse patrols actually are at catching human and drug smugglers.
The vagueness is nothing new. This past December, two separate Government Accountability Reports criticized the agencyanalyzing its lack of accountability regarding performance. The Border Patrol was also chastised for high levels of employee misconduct and corruption.
And more U.S. citizens than ever before are now being caught smuggling, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting. In fact, 75 percent of people caught with drugs by the Border Patrol are U.S. citizens, according to the report. It examined 40,000 seizures and suspect information, and drew the conclusion that 80 percent had involved U.S. citizens. The rate has increased every year from 2005 until 2011.
Although millions are being spent on "securing" the border, apprehensions are at an all-time low. In San Diego, according to statistics from the Border Patrol, around 119,000 people were apprehended. Most recently, in 2012, just 29,000 people were arrested.
Those who get to work from Imperial Beach clearly enjoy their job. Supervisory agent Cluff admits that there's more downtime than there used to be, since the "traffic levels" are "a lot less" then they were five years before. "If I could stay here and do it for another 20 years, I would," he says.
Agent Slack reflected a similar sentiment.
"I think the Queen of England is 88 years old and she still rides," she says. "So as long as I'm physically able, I'll be riding horses."

Monday, April 8, 2013

Twin Horses Born on Easter Morning

Only about one in 10,000 horses have twins, and even fewer survive birth, but a Georgia horse owner was surprised to find two fillies when she woke up Easter morning. (4-2-13)

WSMV Channel 4

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

U.S. Boosts Horse-Meat Testing on Imports

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Source: By BILL TOMSON from the Wall Street Journal Online
The extra tests are to make “absolutely certain” the U.S. is unaffected by the overseas recalls on horse meat…
Testing Horse MeatWASHINGTON—Europe’s horse-meat scandal is prompting the U.S. to increase the “species” testing it does on imports to detect any traces of equine contamination in products labeled as beef, pork or other meat.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday ordered inspectors to increase testing on all meat imports from Ireland, Poland, the U.K., countries where meat production has been implicated in the scandal.
The inspectors were also told to begin performing species tests on some beef-product imports, regardless of what country it comes from. The extra tests are to make “absolutely certain” the U.S. is unaffected by the overseas recalls on horse meat, a USDA official said Monday. The official declined to discuss the levels of testing.
USDA officials have previously said Americans are in no danger of eating horse disguised in meat products because the U.S. doesn’t import beef from countries involved in the European scandal. The U.S. imports no beef from the U.K., Ireland, Poland or Iceland, but those countries do ship pork and other meats here.
Ireland’s agriculture ministry confirmed in March that government officials had detected horse meat in beef products there. Horse meat can be sold for consumption in the European Union, but it must be labeled in food products.
The European Commission said in March it has begun a broad testing program for undeclared horse in European meat. Horse meat can be sold for consumption in the European Union, but it must be labeled in food products.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma last month passed a law permitting horses to be slaughtered in the state to produce meat for human consumption, the latest salvo in a national debate over how to deal with wild and abandoned horses.
The U.S. Congress is considering a measure that would ban horse slaughter nationally.
Click (HERE) to visit the WSJ and to Comment