Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Euthanize horses instead of slaughtering them

Our own Kari Nienstedt, the Arizona Director of the HSUS has written a wonderful rebuttal to the article previously printed in the East Valley Tribune by Kevin Rogers, president of the Arizona Farm Bureau.


Kari NIienstedt, Commentary

In response to the Dec. 19 commentary, “Horse slaughter a humane option” by Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers:

It is true that the last two U.S. plants that butchered horses for foreign consumption have closed and that the slaughter industry continues to ship horses on a long, miserable journey to be killed in Canada and Mexico. The U.S. plants were rife with animal abuse and recent disclosures by the U.S. Department of Agriculture document those cruelties quite graphically.

Being a horse owner is a choice — one that comes with the responsibility of providing humane, competent care for the horse at all stages of his life. There are many alternatives to sending these iconic animals to the horrors of slaughter. If an owner can no longer care for their horse, they can sell or lease their horse to another competent caretaker; relinquish the horse to a rescue or sanctuary, or if no other option exists, have the horse humanely euthanized by a licensed veterinarian. In most parts of the country, the cost of humane euthanasia is equal to or less than the cost of one month’s care.

Both backyard and large scale breeders have relied on the killer buyers to snatch up their “excess” horses and turn a profit on their deaths. This creates little incentive to breed horses responsibly, or to put any time or training into their animals. The result?

Thousands of horses needlessly trucked thousands of miles with no food, water or rest, to a gruesome death in foreign slaughter plants.

It is only a matter of time before legislation passes to finally end horse slaughter. The horse industry must take steps now to encourage more responsible breeding and stop hiding behind a foreign-owned industry that preys upon our companion animals.

Kari Nienstedt of Queen Creek is Arizona state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

Sunday, December 21, 2008



TV Station KHOU has done a powerful piece on the USDA cruelty documents that Julie Caramante and Animal's Angels received through her FOIA. It features Steve Long and Julie and it is both powerful and graphic.

Here is a text version off of Texas Cable News

Thousands of U.S. horses slaughtered in Mexico for food
10:56 PM CST on Friday, December 19, 2008
By Brad Woodard / 11 News
Steve Long is a noted author as well as editor of Texas Horse Talk magazine. You can say he knows horses.

Thousands of U.S. horses slaughtered in Mexico
December 19, 2008

“They are the essence of beauty, everything about them, the way they move, the way they talk to each other, their personalities, they’re just magnificent,” he said.
He says that horses are not only deeply woven into the fabric of Texas History, but they are also great icons of the American West.
Still, despite that honor, records show that nearly 50,000 U.S. horses have been transported to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico for slaughter and ultimately destined for the dinner tables in Europe and Japan.
“It’s an obscenity. It’s a horror. It’s something that makes me want to throw up,” said Long.

Records show that nearly 50,000 U.S. horses have been transported to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico for slaughter and ultimately destined for the dinner tables in Europe and Japan.
Believe it or not, Long isn’t talking about the slaughtering practices in Mexico, although he finds them disturbing.
Long is talking about the horse slaughter industry, that until recently, thrived here in Texas and the United States.
“This is the biggest animal rights scandal since the Michael Vick case. This is slaughtergate,” said Long.
In fact, records show that there are two Belgian owned horse slaughtering facilities in the state. He says one of the facilities, Dallas Crowe, is in Kaufman, Texas and that the other facility, Beltex, is located in Fort Worth.
In 2006, 11 News reported that employees at both facilities used captive bolt guns and air guns on the horses instead of knives. That technique involves driving a steel bolt into a the brain of a horse.
Both Texas facilities were forced to close last year. Officials say that the closure came after a federal appeals court upheld a 1949 state law banning horse slaughter for human consumption.
Despite that action the slaughter horse business continues.
Julie Caramante is an animal cruelty investigator for the organization called Animal’s Angels and she often works undercover.
She said that it took her three years to obtain photos that document violations of the transportation of horses taken to Beltex between January and November of 2005.
“I saw horses that were dead in trailers, with their legs ripped off, with their faces smashed in, eyeballs dangling, and these horses, some of them were still alive. They were just standing there,” said Caramante.
Many of the injuries reportedly occurred when the horses were transported on double-decker trailers designed to haul cattle.
The U.S. banned that type of action last year, but there’s a loophole, said Caramante. She says that the double-deckers can still be used to haul horses thousands of miles to feedlots, like the one in Morton, Texas. It’s owned by the Belgian company, Beltex.
“They feed them and get them fattened up. The ones that live go to El Paso and then off to the plant in Mexico,” said Caramante.
While it’s currently illegal to slaughter horses for human consumption in Texas, 11 News has found that at least two states are considering measures that would make it legal.
Those who support horse slaughter say they’d like to see it resume here in the U.S. because of laws that protect horses from cruelty. They say it is a well regulated industry that provided humane euthanasia.
“Such things are laughable. And it would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. U.S. humane laws have done nothing for the horse,” said Long.
E-mail 11 News reporter Brad Woodard

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Horse slaughter a humane option...What?????


December 19, 2008 - 6:49PM

Horse slaughter a humane option

Kevin Rogers, Commentary

How many times have we heard the phrase “unintended consequences” in reference to government actions? Some actions have great intentions, but result in a major calamity.

Let’s look at the issue of horse slaughter. There are no horse slaughter facilities operating in this country due to government actions.

Congressional efforts are afoot to turn this into an outright and permanent ban. My family owns and loves horses — we have for generations, but there are certain realities of dealing with unwanted horses. Unfortunately, the unintended consequences of stopping horse slaughter were predictable.

It costs $2,300 per year to feed a horse and add to that veterinary services, care and equipment. We are seeing some cash-strapped horse owners, some losing their homes in foreclosure, first cut the feed ration and veterinary care. Next is abandonment at livestock auctions or releasing the horse into the desert where it has no idea how to find water or food. Horse shelters are already stretched and there is low demand for adoption. The Arizona Department of Agriculture is running low on resources to round up and feed abandoned horses. These cash-strapped owners make the decision to not spend the $300 to $500 to properly dispose of an unwanted horse. It is not the right decision, but it is reality.

What should be done with these unwanted animals due to economic times, age or the owner deciding the animal is not trainable or wanted? A horse can live 25 years or so. Until government shut down regulated and humane slaughter in this country, there was a local demand and value for unwanted horses.

The Humane Society of the United States says we protest too much. Large animal veterinarians, animal control and livestock officers around the country don’t seem to think so. They see the abuses firsthand. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Quarter Horse Association, to name just a few credible organizations, agree these abuses are occurring.

Of course horse ownership should be responsible. Abandoning horses, failing to provide adequate food and water and neglect constitute animal abuse. However, the reality is animals are being abused because we have eliminated an option, i.e. strictly regulated horse slaughter facilities as an outlet and market for unwanted and uncared for animals. There is a market for horse meat in the world. For example: we are shipping live horses to Canada for slaughter and the product is coming back to U.S. zoos — does this make any sense?

Again, my family loves horses. We board and provide a training facility on our farm for other horse-owning families and we hate the abuse resulting from good intentions — simply because some people recoil from the thought of an animal being slaughtered.

At the same time, no one is arguing that horses should not be euthanized, when sickness, old age or infirmity requires it, but when we stopped U.S. slaughter we pulled the rug from the economics. The radical ban has not been good for the horse, the horse owner or the entire horse industry. It is time for states and Congress to rethink this issue before more horses suffer abuse.

Kevin Rogers is president of the Arizona Farm Bureau

Tuesday, December 16, 2008





Much of our public lands, resources and the agencies overseeing them have now reached critical levels of concern due to the long-standing policies of the past accelerated by the last eight years of blatant disregard for both law and public outcry. The American people were promised change under your leadership; the appointment of Mr. Salazar represents a betrayal of the public trust and fails utterly to fulfill that promise.

The Wild Horse and Burro Program overseen by the Bureau of Land Management is currently in shambles, a poignant illustration of the magnitude of crisis much of our public lands, resources, wildlife and their ever-shrinking habitats now face.

Over 30,000 wild horses and burros are now headed for slaughter due solely to gross malfeasance, lack of oversight or accountability as well as the insidious policies of political meddling and corruption versus sound science based decisions that have pervasively corroded the wise stewardship of our Nation’s resources.

NOW is the time for strong, progressive and visionary leadership in efforts to repair what may be irreparable. There is no more time to waste on yet another politically motivated appointment that serves only special interests; not the American people or our children!

Ken Salazar promotes more of the same destructive policies and we strongly oppose his appointment as the Secretary of the Interior!