Thursday, March 19, 2009

Prices Soaring for Unwanted Horses! Could This Be Why Horse Theft Appears to be on the Rise?

March 18, 2009 at 17:52:21

Prices soaring for unwanted horses
by John Holland

The auctions call them “loose” horses because they are run through the auction ring without riders and are sold mostly to “killer buyers”. Slaughter advocates including the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) call them “unwanted” horses because they clog up the market for new foals and new registration fees. But whatever you call them, they are suddenly in increasingly short supply.
The last three horse slaughter plants in the US were closed in 2007, but the industry quickly shifted to exporting the horses for slaughter in Canada and Mexico. By the middle of 2008, there were more horse slaughter houses killing American horses than at any time in the past decade. Yet the closings galvanized the meat packing industry which saw them as a dangerous victory for “animal rights advocates” and their perceived “vegan agenda”.
Within weeks of the first closings, countless anecdotal stories began appearing about how America is awash in unwanted horses. Lawmakers in almost a dozen agricultural states have put forward initiatives aimed at bringing slaughter back to the US, based largely on these accounts. But the actual sales statistics from the horse auctions tell a very different story.
For example the New Holland auction in Pennsylvania is one of the largest slaughter auctions in the country. In October of 2008, they sold a total of 815 slaughter grade horses at an average price of $323, but despite rapidly worsening economic conditions, by February that number had dropped by 28% to 582 horses and the average price had risen by 31.6% to $425. It is largely the same story at auctions across the country.
Leroy Baker, owner of the Sugar Creek Auction in Ohio, has been heard publicly assigning the shortage of sellers to bad publicity including an HBO documentary about race horses going to slaughter through his auction.
Moreover, the USDA recently fined Baker an unprecedented $162,800 for numerous violations of the Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Act (CTESA). The act prohibits the transport to slaughter of late term pregnant mares, foals, blind horses and horses that cannot support their weight on all four legs; prohibits the use of double deck trailers; and specifies minimal rest and feeding intervals.
And Baker has not been the only source of bad publicity for the horse slaughter industry. In response to a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, the USDA recently disclosed 900 pages of photos documenting some of the grizzliest violations imaginable that occurred at the Texas slaughter plants prior to their being ordered closed in 2007.
The photos, which were taken in an attempt to enforce compliance with the CTESA, show horses with horrific injuries ranging from severed legs to crushed skulls. Still other photos show blind horses, newborn foals and even a mare standing on the unloading docks with her placenta still draping to the manure covered floor.
The exposure of these photos was a double embarrassment to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medicine Association). The evidence surfaced just as the AVMA was getting traction on a well financed PR campaign to convince lawmakers that the US plants should be reopened because they had been more humane.
Every indication is that the supply of unwanted horses will only get worse because production has been destroyed. The reason for this lies in the nature of the source of slaughter horses.
Contrary to popular perception, most horses sent to slaughter are not old, but young and healthy. They are largely the “culls” from an industry that over breeds in a quest for perfection. When times are good, the profits are made on the best foals and the culls (be they slow race horses or simply horses of the wrong color) are dumped to slaughter.
But the market for top grade riding and performance horses has tanked, once again proving the old adage “The best way to make a small fortune in horses is to start with a large one.” So breeders have cut back. With less breeding there are fewer culls.
Some breeders liquidated in response to the low horse prices and high feed prices, while still others were forced out of the business when their properties were lost to foreclosure.
A Kentucky breeder, for example, gave away his entire prized Arab bloodline to keep the horses from going to slaughter.
And the “kill auctions” are losing yet another source of horses. Slammed by bad publicity, an increasing number of horse tracks have put in place “zero tolerance” programs that ban owners and trainers caught selling their horses to slaughter. In October, the Magna Entertainment Corporation announced that all nine of their tracks would have a zero tolerance policy and they were quickly joined by at least three other tracks.
Kill buyers have adapted to the shortage in a number of ways, including placing ads on sites like Craig’s List. In one memorable case, a kill buyer and his wife showed up at the seller’s house saying they thought the horse would be a perfect starter horse for their young daughter. The horse was a Thoroughbred (racing) stallion.
But there remains one possible reservoir of unwanted horses. Since the first plants were closed in Texas, there have been countless unsubstantiated stories about horses being abandoned. Some slaughter advocates have estimated that as many as 170,000 such horses were abandoned just last year. This valuable pool of unwanted horses could serve as a kind of “petroleum reserve” for the horse slaughter industry if only they could be found. And for that matter, there are always the unicorns.
John Holland is a freelance writer and the author of three books. He frequently writes on the subject of horse slaughter from his small farm in the mountains of Virginia, where he lives with his wife, Sheilah, and their 12 equines. Holland is a charter member of the Equine Welfare Alliance and serves as senior analyst for Americans Against Horse Slaughter, an organization composed entirely of volunteers.
John Holland

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Make a Video and You May Win $1000.00 for The Horse Rescue of Your Choice!

YouTube Horse Slaughter Contest

The Contest
Alex Brown Racing is sponsoring a YouTube contest that will run from Tuesday, February 10 to Sunday May 10 2009. We will offer a $1,000 prize, to be sent to the horse rescue organization of choice of the winning entry, as of Noon eastern time, May 10, 2009. All entries are to be completed, posted and approved, by Noon on Friday April 10, 2009. Entrants must read and be familiar with the document: Deconstructing the Horse Slaughter Issue: Chapter Horse Slaughter.
The Rules
Anyone can enter, regardless of age and country of origin.
Each video is to be 1 - 4 minutes in length.
Each video discusses specific aspects of the horse slaughter issue as noted in the above document, whether it is to agree, reinforce or disagree with the issues noted in the document.
Each video must be without gory details, PG 13 please.
Each video must use the phrase "horse slaughter" in the title, and the video must be tagged with the phrase "horse slaughter". The video should also be tagged with the phrase "ABR Video Contest".
Each entrant (video producer) can produce as many videos as he or she desires.
Each entrant needs to add his or her videos to the ABR YouTube group and e-mail Wendy.
Wendy needs to approve each entrant for the contest prize via adding a comment to the video (see the rule re: no gory details).
To be eligible a video must be completed and posted by end of day, April 10, 2009 and must be new content as of February 10, 2009.
All submissions must comply with Youtube's Copyright Infringement Policy:
"YouTube respects the rights of copyright holders and publishers and requires all users to confirm they own the copyright or have permission from the copyright holder to upload content. We comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other applicable copyright laws and promptly remove content when properly notified. Repeat infringers' videos are removed and their accounts are terminated and permanently blocked from using YouTube." If you have questions about how to comply with this policy, please visit:
Determining the winner
The winner will be determined by multiplying the number of comments the video received, by the rating of the video. And then adding the number of views of the video. This calculation will be made at Noon eastern, May 10, 2009
Horse Slaughter: Our Forgotten Veterans Deserve Better BrookePSU
Horse Play - Saving Horses From Slaughter horseplayri
No More Horse Slaughter horsesrule925
End Horse Slaughter thoroughbredlover3
Another Chance: Saved from Horse Slaughter millertime83
Please Stop Horse Slaughter sandyelmore490
Horse Heroes - Stop Horse Slaughter wendyu1
Media Coverage
Friday Fun: For the Heart, Head & Soul Diva Marketing Blog, February 28, 2009
Youtube Horse Slaughter - $1000 - Open to all - 1 to 4 minutes - Over Due: May 10th, 2009 The Video Contest Community, February 26, 2009
Teaching An Old Horse New Tricks Triple Dead Heat, February 17, 2009
Horse Slaughter Video Contest
Video contest on horse slaughter issue Horsetalk, February 11, 2009
Videos To Stop Killing The Horse Racing Stars Triple Dead Heat, February 11, 2009
Horse slaughter...Have your say Gathering The Wind, February 11, 2009
Bright Future Thoroughblog (bottom of entry), February 11, 2009
Breaking News Texas Horse Talk, February 11, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Agriculture Associations Misrepresent Horse Slaughter!

Equine Welfare Alliance
Contacts: John Holland & Vicki Tobin

Agriculture Associations Misrepresent Horse Slaughter

CHICAGO, (EWA) - At a time when Americans are experiencing the worst economic period in most of our life-times, Cattle and Agriculture Associations have taken the economic downturn as an opportunity to further the agenda of promoting horse slaughter. The word slaughter has been replaced with the word “Harvest” to portray crops that have ripened and need to be gleaned. Although there is no market in the US for the crop, proponents of this fraud want to ensure healthy horses are killed so there is a continuous supply of meat on the hoof that must continually be shipped to overseas markets that Americans do not own nor profit. This is referred to as the never ending cycle of breed and dump.

Using a benign word such as Harvest, a word we all cherish, is an insult and outrage to horse lovers everywhere. This fraud attempts to reduce the horse, the animal which in partnership with man built this nation – attempts to reduce the horse to a commodity such as corn, wheat, barley, or oats.

Not only are the cattle and agriculture associations promoting horse “harvesting” but organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) are often quoted and named in their articles and speeches as supporters and misuse the word harvest to portray a cruel process which they attempt to mask with a word with pleasant associations in the American vocabulary..

These are the very organizations that are entrusted to promote equine welfare and care. They are organizations that have seen recent results of three year long U.S. Department of Agriculture Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) probe by animal cruelty investigator Julie Caramante which resulted in the release of photos and reports from investigations of the department that clearly depict the cruelty and abuse inherent with the entire horse killing process FOIA Reports. The three year cover-up by the USDA has been dubbed by some in the media “Slaughtergate”. It is hardly a harvest.

Horses are not food animals in America. They are trusted work, service, sport, therapy and companion animals. It is time for Americans to stand up and end the hold the predatory foreign market has on the American Equine Industry. It is time for Americans to stand up and let their legislators know that horses are not crops, and that it is imperative that The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009 be passed swiftly and without hesitation by the Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

Horses are not a vegetable crop. They aren’t even food. Would you harvest your dog, your cat, or yes, even your gerbil? Tell these organizations it’s just fine to promote their belief that killing horses for profit is the American way, but at least they should be honest in the language they use to describe this unspeakably cruel act where horses are hung upside down to bleed to death after their throat is cut, an act in which their hooves are often removed while they are still conscious.

For information on legislative activity, visit: Legislative Activity

Monday, February 23, 2009

Open Letter to Legislators from Paula Bacon, former Mayor of Kaufman Texas says it all! Please contact you Reps and ask them to co-sponsor HR503!

Dear State Legislator:
You will soon be asked to vote on ... legislation regarding the commercial slaughter of American horses of which you probably have very little firsthand knowledge. No doubt you have heard from lobbyists and organizations who want you to support the practice, but before you do, you should ask yourself why the residents of Texas and Illinois worked so hard to rid their states of their horse slaughter plants. The answer may surprise you.
As a mayor who lived with this plague in her town for many years, who knows what the horse slaughter industry really is and what it does to a community please allow me to tell you what we experienced. The industry caused significant and long term hardship to my community which was home to Dallas Crown, one of the last three horse slaughter plants in the United States.
All three plants were foreign-owned, and since the market for horsemeat is entirely foreign, the industry will always be dominated by these foreign interests. The corporations involved in this industry have consistently proven themselves to be the worst possible corporate citizens.
The Dallas Crown horse slaughtering facility had been in operation in Kaufman since the late 70's and from the beginning had caused problems both economically and environmentally. I have listed some of the specific issues below.
I will gladly provide you with detailed reports from my former City Manager, Police Chief, and Public Works Director regarding odor and wastewater effluence violations at the Dallas Crown horse slaughter plant in the City of Kaufman.. The reports reference "decaying meat [which] provides a foul odor and is an attraction for vermin and carrion," containers conveyed "uncovered and leaking liquids," there are "significant foul odors during the daily monitoring of the area," and "Dallas Crown continually neglects to perform within the standards required of them."
Therefore, in August of 2005, our City Council decided by unanimous decision to send the Dallas Crown issue to the Board of Adjustments for termination of their non-conforming use status. In March of 2006, the Board of Adjustments voted to order Dallas Crown closed, but the plant was able to tie the enforcement up in the courts until they were finally closed under state law in February of 2007.
Dallas Crown repeatedly described itself as a "good corporate citizen." I will be straightforward in asserting that they are the very antithesis of such.
Dallas Crown had a very long history of violations to their industrial waste permit, ‘loading' the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant.
Dallas Crown denied the City access to their property for wastewater testing beginning October 1, 2004 until July 6, 2005 , despite requirement by city ordinance, city permit agreement, and court order.
City staff reported that a $6 million upgrade to our wastewater treatment plant would be required even though the plant was planned and financed to last through 2015.
Odor problems resulting from the outside storage of offal and hides over several days persisted not only in traditionally African-American neighborhood known as "Boggy Bottom", but at the nearby Presbyterian Hospital , the daycare center, and surrounding areas.
Transport of offal and fresh hides on City and state thoroughfares is conducted in leaking containers without covers.
City documents reveal an extended history of efforts to have Dallas Crown address various environmental issues. Reports include descriptive language including such as "blood flowing east and west in the ditches from your plant," "It has been over 45 days [it had been 59 days] and no apparent cleanup has occurred," "Your system has not improved and subsequently it has gotten a lot worse," "Words cannot express the seriousness" of recent violations and the "adverse effects on the wastewater treatment plant," and "Please be sure trailers are secured before leaving your premises to prevent spills," noting also "bones and blood laying in front of the facility," problems with bones and parts in neighboring yards and the attraction of "dogs and other animals."
In response to 29 citations for wastewater violations, each accompanied by a potential fine of $2,000, Dallas Crown requested 29 separate jury trials, potentially causing yet another economic strain to the City's budget. We could, of course, not afford to litigate in order to extract the fines
Dallas Crown took 11 months to submit a mandatory "sludge control plan" to assist efficient operation of the wastewater treatment plant though City staff requested it orally and in writing many times.
The City Manager advised me that the City would have to spend $70,000 in legal fees because of Dallas Crown problems, which was the entire legal budget for the fiscal year.
During this period, Dallas Crown paid property taxes that were less than half of what the City spent on legal fees directly related to Dallas Crown violations.
Generally, Dallas Crown has the economic ability to prevail, to exceed the constraints of the City's budget.
Dallas Crown had a negative effect on the development of surrounding properties, and a horse slaughter plant is a stigma to the development of our city generally. I have since learned that these problems were mirrored at the other two plants. Fort Worth's Beltex horse slaughter plant also violated Ft. Worth's wastewater regulations several times, clogged sewer lines, and both spilled and pumped blood into a nearby creek (San Antonio Current, June 19, 2003 ). Texas State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, whose district includes Beltex, and Rep. Toby Goodman, R-Arlington, fought hard against legislation that would have legalized horse slaughter in Texas in 2003.
The horse slaughter plant in DeKalb , IL had a similar pattern. It was destroyed by fire in 2002, and rebuilt in 2004. It was charged and fined by the DeKalb Sanitary District almost every month from the reopening until its closing in 2007 under a new state law for consistently exceeding wastewater discharge guidelines. I can provide you with the documentation of those violations. Like Dallas Crown, Cavel refused to pay their fines for years.
During this time, I learned that an estimated $5 million in Federal funding was being spent annually to support three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants! And when the Dallas Crown tax records were exposed in the city's legal struggle, we found that they had paid only $5 in federal taxes on a gross income of over $12,000,000!
Moreover, the parent company of Cavel has since moved its operations to Canada and continued to slaughter American horses. In Canada they have apparently become even more blatant, dumping huge untreated piles of entrails onto open ground and even using a tanker truck to discharge blood and refuse into a local river.
I have mentioned only the pollution issue, but this is but one negative aspect of horse slaughter. I have subsequently learned of a USDA document containing 900 pages of graphic photos that show the horrors that the horses were subject to. Behind the privacy fences of these plants, trucks arrived continuously and on those trucks was every form of inhumane violation one can imagine from mares birthing foals to horses with eyes dangling from their sockets and legs ripped from their bodies.
The more I learn about horse slaughter, the more certain I am: There is no justification for horse slaughter in this country. My city was little more than a door mat for a foreign-owned business that drained our resources, thwarted economic development and stigmatized our community. Americans don't eat horses, and we don't raise them for human consumption. There is no justification for spending American tax dollars to support this industry at the expense of Americans and our horses.
Former Mayor Paula Bacon
Kaufman, TX
325-665-2043 cell

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pro-slaughter says Livestock - Anti-slaughter says Companion, Here is What the FDA Says...
February 12, 2009
FDA Reminds Public of Comment Period Deadline for the Draft Guidance for Industry on Anesthetics for Companion Animals
On December 17, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published in the Federal Register the availability of a draft guidance document for industry entitled “Guidance for Industry #192: Anesthetics for Companion Animals.” The comment period for the guidance closes on March 2, 2009.
The purpose of the guidance document is to provide industry with FDA’s recommendations for the development of new animal anesthetic drug products for companion animals (dogs, cats, and horses). The guidance discusses information that sponsors should consider when planning and conducting safety and field studies for their proposed drug product. The guidance also provides recommendations on how to analyze the study data and how to present the collected data in an organized package to CVM.
The draft guidance, once finalized, will represent the Agency’s current thinking on the development of companion animal general anesthetic (injectable or inhalational) drug products.
The draft guidance document is available at The federal register notice can be found at: Interested persons may submit written comments on or before March 2, 2009, to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), FDA, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Electronic comments may be submitted to: Identify all submissions to the docket with the following docket number: 2008D-0623.
For additional information about the draft guidance, please contact Dr. Germaine Connolly at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, 240-276-8331,

Is the Horse Slaughter Movement Funded by horse Breeders?

Is the Horse Slaughter Movement Funded by Horse Breeders?
The slaughter of horses for human consumption is no longer legal in the US. Sadly more than 100,000 horses each year are shipped to Canada and Mexico to satisfy the palates of “gourmands” overseas. Upwards of 90 percent of the horses sold for slaughter are healthy, sound animals, according to USDA statistics. Of that 90 percent, some are bred solely for the slaughter market, others come from farms providing horse urine to pharmaceutical companies and others are horses with cosmetic or minor conformation issues which make them valueless to the breeders, many of whom are producing a hundred or more foals yearly.
Several states, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, among others, are studying or considering opening horse slaughter plants under the guise of providing a more “humane” method of disposing of “unwanted” horses than shipping them in trucks cross country for slaughter in Canada or Mexico. There is also a well-funded, but virtually unknown national movement afoot, with bills pending in Congress, to allow horse slaughter for human consumption once again.
This issue is not about treating horses humanely or dealing with “unwanted” horses. It’s about profit, pure and simple. For example, the wording of the North Dakota bill includes “… to meet overseas export markets for horsemeat…” Clearly, sponsors of this bill see a market opportunity, thinly disguised as a way to “solve” a conveniently overstated problem.
As the movie line goes, “Follow the money.” Who would profit if a horse slaughter facility were to open in any given state? We know the slaughter facility will make money; that’s a given. But so will the people who supply the horses destined to become someone's dinner. Who is lobbying for these plants to reopen? It's my guess that it’s the potential suppliers who see the slaughter business as a way to make money off an “unwanted” or “valueless,” product, to quote the North Dakota bill’s sponsor.
For a breeder, each year’s “crop” of foals has a percentage of colts and fillies who do not meet the breeders’ standards. The North Dakota bill is sponsored by a rancher who raises Quarter Horses, which, coincidently, is the most common breed to be sent to slaughter. His last sales catalog listed 80-plus young horses for sale. Were there any “unwanted” or “valueless” horses sent to slaughter because they didn’t make “the cut”? Horse breeders, as well as horse associations, surprisingly, are some of the most vocal supporters of horse slaughter.
Other lobbyists for the horse slaughter movement claim a slaughter facility will alleviate horse “overpopulation” by providing breeders and others with a place to send horses (for a profit) to a “humane” death rather than let them face starvation, neglect or abandonment because the owner, for whatever circumstance, is unwilling to care for the animal. Horse slaughter proponents won’t tell the public that the death of a horse in a slaughter facility is anything but humane. They also won’t share statistics that don’t support their cause. For example, cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment, not to mention horse theft, actually went down when the slaughter plants closed. Supporters also won’t tell the public that there are dozens of rescue facilities, not to mention horse-loving youths and adults, who would willingly take a breeder’s “unwanted” horse and give it a loving home.
Horse slaughter is a highly emotional subject with “facts” bandied about with little but anecdotal evidence to back them up. Factual information can be found in the USDA records, as well as from organizations that track this type of activity. If, after researching the issue for yourself, you feel moved to contact legislators and share your opinion in opposition to horse slaughter, be prepared for a fight. Too much money is on the table for breeders, ranchers, kill buyers/shippers and foreign and domestic investors in slaughter facilities to let this issue die.
Here are the links to some websites you may wish to visit:
Article about horse slaughter provided by the Humane Society of America
Article in Agweek supporting horse slaughter, primarily in North Dakota.
Article from Animal Law Coalition detailing the results of a study on abuse of horses following the closing of slaughter facilities
Article from Animal Law Coalition providing information about horse slaughter bills in various states
Contact information for federal legislation to further protect horses
Vicki A Voice For Our Horses
No breed is more prominently represented in the slaughter trucks rolling
toward Canada and Mexico than the quarter horse. ~ John Holland

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Talk Radio-Live Feed Feb 7th at 6 PM with John Holland!

LIVE FEED ON SATURDAY FEB. 7TH 6PM With John Holland (Senior Analyst for AAHS) and Paula Bacon and Laura Allen!
Saving America's Horses on WFL Endangered Stream Live, Talk Radio for the Protection of AnimalsThe Hidden Cruelty of Horse Slaughter and the Fight for Federal Support to Make it Stop.Host Katia Louise interviews an expert panel of guests on the continuing sordid practice of horse slaughter as currently sustained by the United States. Horses suffer unimaginable cruel treatment in the process of their transport out of the US to Mexico and Canada where they experience barbaric slaughter. Listeners will learn the truth about one of America's darkest secrets and how to take action to stop this cruel and rapidly growing business of exports through the support of current, yet disregarded bills lingering in Congress for the past 8 years. Guests include Paula Bacon representing Americans Against Horse Slaughter and as former mayor of Kaufman TX, she helped to shut down the Dallas Crown, a US horse slaughter plant now operating in Mexico, among the worst malign abusers of cruelty in this brutal practice. Also joining us is the renown author on the issue of horse slaughter, John Holland; senior analyst for Americans Against Horse Slaughter. Holland has authored and coauthored studies on the relationship of horse slaughter to the rate of abuse and neglect in horses and has written dozens of articles on the subject of horse slaughter and its politics. Plus we have Animal Law Attorney, Laura Allen of the Animal Law Coalition who's been fiercely active in the support of getting legislature passed for the Prevention of the Equine Cruelty. These panelists are fighting to abolish horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughter with support more stringent enforcement of laws to prevent abuse and neglect.Call-in number: (646) 727- 2170. Calls will be accepted live during the show. The chat room at the show's WFL Endangered Stream Live Blog Talk Radio page will be open throughout the broadcast for simultaneous discussion and to help answer questions. Registered listeners may connect and talk straight from their computer from anywhere in the world. (learn more) Listen live on Saturday, Feb 7th at 3pm (PST) at WFL Endangered Stream Live Blog Talk Radio.Listen anytime on demand. Links: