Horse Milk “Farmers” Censored by Advertising Standards Canada

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danacolt12-7-07fewhoursold1

 

You just need to be a flea against injustice. Enough committed fleas biting strategically can make even the biggest dog uncomfortable” – Marian Wright Edelman

 

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

In our internet travels we often come across examples of either accidental errors or deliberate attempts to mislead the public. As per a blog post by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, Spa Creek Ranch, located in Salmon Arm British Columbia, was producing horse milk products.  According to their website:

“In Europe, unpasteurized mare’s milk is used for health purposes, because our skin is our largest organ, it [the cream] penetrates through the skin and helps that way.”

and

“Horse milk contains many easy absorbable [sic] vitamins; it gives the skin resistance and increases the blood flow.”

An advertisement in the Warm Blood Breeder’s Digest (page 8/9) claims that the milk products “gives energy to cancer patients”  and that the skin cream and shampoo were used by people with  “eczema,  psoriasis, Crohn’s disease,  diarrhea, constipation,  fatigue,  kidney failure, cow’s milk allergy,  stomach problems, post-surgical recovery,  MS [multiple sclerosis], and rheumatoid arthritis.” 

Horse milk is occasionally proclaimed as a sort of beauty treatment, and something that Cleopatra apparently bathed in. But making the claim that a shampoo or skin cream of any type “penetrates the outer layer of the skin” or somehow alleviates any of the aforementioned conditions, is a hugely contentious issue. Once you start advertising that your product penetrates the skin and increases your circulation, you are referring to the actions of a drug, rather than a cream made with horse milk. If you have a product with the effect of a drug, then the FDA will be very interested in talking to you, so you had better be prepared to prove your claims and show that it has been tested for safety and efficacy. One thing I’ve observed about horse milk marketers elsewhere in the world is that they tend to behave like horse meat marketers – they make a lot of claims about the health benefits of their products that don’t necessarily stand up to scrutiny and are usually resistant to reason and contrary evidence. I’m sure that if some of these entrepreneurs could figure out a way to get milk from a California condor, they would surely do it in the name of profit.

 

I checked the Pubmed database to see what studies had been conducted on horse milk and mare’s milk, and found a total of 81 studies, most of which had no direct application to humans.   This is actually a pretty small number of studies,  most of which were done in Russia and the Middle East,  where drinking unpasteurized milk is more common.  This handful of studies typically report the results of using horse milk rather than using a blinded control. There are also a few small, poor quality studies suggesting a possible benefit in mare’s colostrum to improve wound healing and fermented mare’s milk to reduce the toxic effects of mercury (big question mark on that one!) Yet another study seems to show that children allergic to cows milk might be able to tolerate horse milk.  There was certainly nothing that suggested horse milk had therapeutic properties that could encourage uptake of vitamins through the skin, thus reducing symptoms or eliminating serious disease.  Therefore, based on the evidence at hand, horse milk “therapy” could probably be classed as experimental treatment at best. The existing studies might justify doing more (and better quality) research, but they don’t justify prescribing it to treat patients for disease. All in all, the research didn’t amount to much – sorry Cleopatra.

So it seems that science never bothered to test any of the above claims put forth by Spa Creek Ranch.  I gave the company the opportunity send me information regarding any longitudinal study that showed a correlation between horse milk and the successful treatment (or even the unsuccessful treatment) of any of the aforementioned medical conditions. I wrote very politely and nicely in a non-confrontational manner (quite unlike how I often write in this blog). Never heard from them.

So I then wrote to Advertising Standards Canada, a non-governmental body made up of advertisers, representatives from advertising agencies and the media, and consumers. It discourages false or misleading advertising through codes of conduct. I asked ASC to delve into the possibility of a inaccurate advertisement about benefits for people with cancer in particular. Furthermore, on Spa Creek Ranch’s online page for testimonials, it seemed like people were claiming that horse milk cream treated symptoms of menopause, re-grew hair, healed athlete’s foot, and functioned as an antibiotic. To be fair, the company didn’t state these things themselves, but they posted them on their website as a promotion – rather like asking a friend to stuff your Yelp reviews. Nevertheless, people considering buying this product would read this stuff and might be influenced by it, because, you know, the human power of belief is inexhaustible, particularly if you might be sick and looking for a cure.

So after the passage of a few months, ASC wrote back to say that:

“We have made repeated attempts to contact the advertiser to have them rectify the problematic claims with respect to the Mare’s Milk advertising. However, we have not yet received a response to our letters. As part of the drug complaint adjudication process, ASC is required to contact the advertiser to notify them of what needs to be removed or amended to bring the advertising into compliance. Given this, we will be forwarding this complaint to Health Canada for their adjudication.”  

demand-evidence-and-think-critically-It was shortly after this that ASC then advised me that Spa Creek Ranch was planning to withdraw the mare’s milk product and that their website would be revised to remove the related content and thus the file would be closed. In fairness, the company was not asked to stop selling their products entirely (although I’m glad they apparently did) but to modify their marketing efforts so that they were not making unsubstantiated claims.

Some people may question, what is the harm in letting people use these products,  believing that they might have some tangible benefits?  These testimonials are really problematic because they suggest to the uninformed reader that horse milk has these magical properties.  This is not only true of mare’s milk but of any quackery or “woo” therapy.  In a not-so-ironic coincidence, the Chinese word “Wū” (巫) means a shaman, usually with magic powers. So it’s within the alt-med or “woo” community that horse milk purveyors have found their target market.

Horse milking operations are also promoting and defending some of the same misdeeds associated with the traditional dairy industry, along with horse slaughter. It’s clear that in order to facilitate the production of milk, excess animals will be produced because post-natal hormones are needed to produce milk for offspring. In many ways, the horse milking industry resembles the PMU industry, because slaughter is not just for old, sick, or lame animals.

God help horses and their foals – how many foals were born so that milk was available as an ingredient in shampoo or skin cream?   The website made no mention of what happened to them.

 

 

 

Godbout Express Access-To-Information Docs Reveal Horses In Transit 27+ Hours

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Justice

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The CFIA documents and slaughter records pertaining to the May 15th shipment of two tractor trailers of horses seen near Marysville, ON on a holiday weekend have now been received.  The enquiry was made to ascertain whether or not the horses would have been unloaded in a timely manner on a long holiday weekend in Canada. The paperwork reveals that, as expected,  Godbout Express was driving for Ohio Kill Buyer Fred Bauer and the 56 horses were shipped from Larue Ohio.  The horses were on the trailers for 27+ hours.  Please refer to the previous blog post and video.

Chronology and Summary

  • May 15th @ 5:00 AM  – horses loaded in Larue, Ohio
  • May 15th – border crossing to Canada at Sarnia, Ontario entry point
  • May 15th @7:00 PM – two trailers of horses documented by animal activist Rob Boisvert in Marysville, Ontario,  approximately 5 hours (with traffic) away from Richelieu slaughterhouse
  • May 16th – paperwork completed for Access-To-Information request and mailed to the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada*
  • May 16th @8:15 AM – horses were unloaded at Richelieu slaughterhouse in Massueville, QC on  – 27+ hours later (the regulation limit for transit time in Canada is 36 hours).
  • May 19th – as soon as the plant opened for operations on the Tuesday following the statutory holiday – Boom! – all 56 horses from the two trailer loads were fastracked to the express lane for slaughter
  • July 28th – ATI Request completed & returned to originator – USDA Form 10-13 lists horses as mostly quarter horses and standardbreds,  with the occasional appy or paint; no non-compliance orders indicated

*information was also requested as to the condition of the horses at the time of unloading, but this information was either withheld or simply not provided.

Although the manifests made note of several lip tattoos and brands, only a few were indicated and were sufficiently legible enough to trace.  Most horses with lip tattoos will be thoroughbreds and not standardbreds,  unless perhaps in their late 20s or 30s since the practice of lip-tattooing a standardbred has long been phased-out.  With a swipe of the pen,  no thoroughbreds are sent to slaughter!  Richelieu supposedly backed away from slaughtering thoroughbreds (at least on paper) as a result of the Cactus Cafe & Canuki fiasco with trainer Mark Wedig.  According to an email from Richelieu administrative technician Geneve Ethier,  the Canuki and Cactus Cafe case “did occur major problems to us and a lot of time, efforts, and money consuming. So to avoid that in the future, the plant advises all his suppliers to not BUY those thoroughbred[s] and overall not have them ship to us. . . . For us, thoroughbred[s] are definitely banned from our premises.”  The likelihood that this shipment of 56 horses, some with lip tattoos, contains no thoroughbreds, is quite improbable.  So of course, the paperwork is virtually without a doubt – not accurate,  or we dare say – FALSE.

In two conversations I had with CFIA veterinarians regarding this shipment, at no time did they tell me that veterinarians/inspectors at slaughterhouses worked any shift other than the standard top hat tip Debbyday shift.  According to a 2011 article in Better Farming,  “slaughter-bound shipments will be accepted only during the CFIA’s regular hours of operation…So miraculously perhaps,  an inspector was either working a Saturday as part of his/her normal job requirements (the day the horses were unloaded) or was called in especially to break the seal.  If the drivers make this trip twice a week (a statement made to Rob Boisvert when he quizzed them in Marysville) then it’s reasonable to assume that the horses are left overnight, packed together in stupefyingly hot July and August weather with no access to water, if the same driving schedule is followed.

Every attempt was made to determine the ID of the horses on these shipments. A few are questionable with more than one possibility due to the illegibility of the writing.  Judging by their ages, most of these STB mares could have been older broodmares whose services were no longer required.  The remaining 50 horses all had names at one time; to us they are unknown and untraceable, but not to be forgotten.

In Memoriam:

T4738 – STB Mare – “Gettinjiggywithit

5B159 – STB Gelding – “Snilloc Three

2B448 – STB Mare – “Spring Hill Mini

8A452? – STB Mare – “BC Firepan

L2415? – STB Mare – “Hawaiian Alumina” could alternatively be L2485? –  STB Mare – “Picupyosocs

6G525 – STB Mare – “Fast Bunny

 

The 9 Ethical Principles of the True Horseman

  1.  Anyone involved with a horse takes over responsibility for the living creature entrusted to him.
  2. The horse must be kept in a way that is in keeping with its natural living requirements.
  3. Highest priority must be accorded to the physical as well as psychological health of the horse, irrespective of the purpose for which it is used.
  4. Man must respect every horse alike, regardless of its breed, age and sex and its use for breeding, for recreation or in sporting competition.
  5. Knowledge of the history of the horse, its needs, and how to handle it are part of our historical-cultural heritage.  This information must be cherished and safeguarded in order to be passed on to the next generation.
  6. Contact and dealings with horses are character-building experiences and of valuable significance to the development of the human being – in particular, the young person.  This aspect must always be respected and promoted.
  7. The human who participates in equestrian sport with his horse must subject himself, as well his horse, to training.  The goal of any training is to bring about the best possible harmony between rider and horse.
  8. The use of the horse in competition as well as in general riding, driving and vaulting must be geared toward the horse’s ability, temperament and willingness to perform.  Manipulating a horses’ capacity to work by means of medication or other “horse-unfriendly” influences should be rejected by all and people engaged in such practices should be prosecuted.
  9. The responsibility a human has for the horse entrusted to him includes the end of the horse’s life.  The human must always assume this responsibility and implement any decisions in the best interest of the horse.

from “Tug of War” by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, dressage rider and veterinarian

 

 ATI Documentation

The Ted Offensive

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Cat Scratch Crazy - AKA Toxoplasmosis causes disorganized electrical activity that interrupt the normal functioning of the brain, often leading to uncontrolled movements in the body and sometimes a temporary change in consciousness.  S'plains a lot...

Cat Scratch Crazy – AKA Toxoplasmosis, causes disorganized electrical activity that interrupts the normal functioning of the brain, often leading to uncontrolled movements in the body and sometimes a temporary change in consciousness. S’plains a lot…

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Whenever some hunting or animal killing scandal erupts on the internet, I hustle over to Ted Nugent’s Facebook page to troll the gibberish-spewing bigots that float to the surface. Like a perpetual motion machine, the barbarism on his page never stops either.

Ted is now weighing-in on the issue of Cecil the Zimbabwean lion who was illegally killed by Dr. Walter Palmer DDS, in Hwange National Park after being tracked, in a wounded state, for 40 hours,  after which time he was skinned and decapitated. Killing Cecil was illegal,  according to a statement from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority and the Safari Operators Association, because the farm owner evidently didn’t have a hunting permit and he was deliberately lured from the Park. So Palmer could face poaching charges, and it’s not the first time he’s been in legal trouble as a result of his hunting practices.  Both Nugent and Palmer have a history of profane attacks on women too,  with Palmer agreeing to pay a settlement to a female employee of $127,500 for sexual harassment.

Cecil the lion had been part of an Oxford University study, and his tracking collar was found to have been discarded by the poachers. The university study was looking into the impact of sports hunting on lions living in the safari area surrounding the national park. The research found that “34 of 62 tagged lions died during the study period. 24 were shot by sport hunters. Sport hunters in the safari areas surrounding the park killed 72% of tagged adult males from the study area.” Of course, Ted claims that Palmer is innocent of all charges, and that if hunters didn’t hunt animals, humans would run out of space in which to live. He actually wrote that.

Ted Nugent,  trophy hunter, racist moron,  low IQ buffoon,  shares a lot in common with Dr. Kristen Lindsey.

Ted Nugent, trophy hunter, racist moron, low IQ buffoon, shares a lot in common with cat-killer Dr. Kristen Lindsay.

Trophy hunters do not care about conservation – the only thing they care about is killing the biggest and the best, and bringing home full trophy mounts or body parts, usually back to the United States. Trophy hunting excursions need to be made illegal, IMO, and airlines that do not already decline to ship animal trophies need to be persuaded to stop. If this could be achieved, it would do much to curtail this type of “tourism.”

By the same token, I wish somehow it were possible to keep Ted Nugent and his loincloth in Michigan, even though this would mean throwing more Michigan animals under the bus. I keep hoping that someday he’ll be charged with a criminal offence and become inadmissible to Canada. We block the Westboro Baptist Church from coming to Canada, so why not Nugent? He’s the host of his own animal-death-porn telecast for the Outdoor Channel, and a right-wing hater cruel enough to have his hunting licenses rescinded temporarily in some states. Described by other hunters as “unethical,” and willing to shoot at anything, Ted Nugent’s hunting business, Sunrize Safaris, has been bringing its own brand of cruelty to Canada for decades. Nuge recently shared a photo of himself after he went full berserker on a bear reportedly killed with the help of Lawrence Dyer & Sons Outfitters, a Canada-based hunting business mired in legal trouble over poaching and animal part possession charges. Operators Daniel, Christopher and Kimberly Dyer have been charged with more than 60 counts of illegal hunting and possession of illegal animal parts, including baculum, part of a bear’s penis.

America’s delusional tantrum-throwing adult toddler Ted Nugent will go to his grave babbling about his fetishistic obsession with killing animals just to watch them die.  Yeah,  he hates mustangs too.

America’s delusional tantrum-throwing adult toddler Ted Nugent will go to his grave babbling about his  obsession with killing animals just to watch them die. Yeah, he hates wild horses too.

Although Nugent is not named among the accused in this case, he’s still no stranger to charges of unethical behaviour stemming from his bloody pastime. On a game farm in South Africa, Nugent displayed his unique version of “sportsmanship” when he wounded a rhino. “Humane hunter” that he is, he refused to let game rangers finish what he’d started because he claimed the rhino was “his” to kill. The rhino escaped, presumably mortally wounded, to die a lingering death elsewhere.

In a separate incident, the ever-KKKlassy Nugent, whose career as a “musician” has essentially been over for decades, was banned from hunting in Alaska for a year, served probation, paid a $10,000

Nugent has no respect for Canadian law - Conservatives are welcome to keep their D-list celeb and his loincloth in Michigan.

Nugent has no respect for Canadian law – Conservatives are welcome to keep their D-list celeb and NRA spokes-whore in Michigan.

fine, and recorded a public service announcement as part of a deal to plead guilty to transporting an illegally killed black bear. In 2012, someone watching his hunting show “Spirit of the Wild” realized that the utterly dumb and offensive Nugent had committed a crime when a “crazy law” didn’t let him go on to kill a second bear after the first one escaped, wounded.  The plea deal certainly didn’t slow him down, since he continued advertising bear hunting tours in Canada.

In yet another incident, the Outdoor Channel filmed him killing a buck too young to be legally hunted. The episode aired in February 2010 on the same television show. California Officials investigated this incident and found that the immature deer had been baited, which is illegal in California. Nugent was brought up on charges of illegally baiting a deer and failing to have a deer tag, to which he pleaded no contest. He was fined $1,750. Sadface.

Hopefully he will blow out a knee kicking himself in the ass over these violations being shown on television, but I doubt it. And these fines mean nothing to him financially. But maybe Ted Nugent and LD&S Outfitters (who have their hearing next month) are the reason that the Department of Natural Resources has had to take responsibility for so many bear cubs being orphaned in New Brunswick? Could there really be many other explanations other

Direct quote from the washed-up rocker and unabashed animal killer  - "Anybody that wants to get in our (hunters') way does not deserve anything less than a bullet between the eyes."

Direct quote from the washed-up rocker and unabashed animal killer – “Anybody that wants to get in our (hunters’) way does not deserve anything less than a bullet between the eyes.”

than hunting? Similarly, the degenerate dentist’s killing of Cecil will ultimately mean that the lion that takes Cecil’s place in his pride will almost certainly kill his cubs, exponentially increasing the death toll for the trophy hunt.

After the internet is done being mean to Dr. Decapitator, all that may be left for him in the field of cosmetic dentistry is straightening Ted Nugent’s crooked chiclet veneers. You might wonder why if he loves hunting, the piss-and-shit-in-his-pants draft dodger Nugent didn’t want to go to war and shoot people. Unlike the defenseless animals this asshat plucks off from the safety of a tree blind after luring them with stale donuts, the enemy soldiers would shoot him back.

Delta Airlines is the only major U.S. carrier with direct service to South Africa who has not indicated whether they will refuse to ship hunting trophies. Please sign the petition to ask them to stop accepting trophies, even if they are accompanied by valid permits. Please also contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and tell them to ban importation of animal parts from trophy hunts.

Apologies to my American friends,  but you are almost entirely responsible for the social media popularity of the overzealous kook known as Ted Nugent.

Apologies to my American friends, but you are almost entirely responsible for the social media popularity of the overzealous kook known as Ted Nugent.

 

Unlost and Found: Animal Activist’s Stolen Camera Returned After Meandering Journey

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Twyla Francois - Animal ProtectorWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Art by: Twyla Francois Art

An animal advocate’s camera is a priceless tool that often endures many indignities while capturing the inhumanity of a food animal’s arduous trip to the slaughterhouse. Anita Krajnc’s pro-level Canon cameras, used for Toronto Pig Save vigils and other events, have been inadvertently drowned in fair-trade vegan hot chocolate, and brusquely dropped into mud. But the last Canon camera owned by Anita was surely thought to be irretrievably lost when it was stolen along with her purse in broad daylight in December 2014 in Toronto.

At this point, several kind people came forward to purchase a replacement camera for Anita, who moved on from the experience and perhaps did not realize that a trail of breadcrumbs had been left that enabled the camera to find its way back to her more than six months later….

When the camera had previously fallen in the mud, it was taken to Canon for repairs, so they of course recorded the serial number along with Anita’s contact info. Sometime after the camera was stolen in Toronto, it was purchased by the good Samaritan in our story, who happened to live in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia – about 2,000 kilometres away. The woman who purchased the camera for only $100 thought that she was buying a point-and-shoot camera, but in another fortuitous event, her photographer friend let her know that it was actually a professional camera with a great prime lens. Suspecting that the camera was stolen, Doreen – the good Samaritan, contacted Canon, who of course had the serial number on-hand and in turn contacted the last registered owner – Anita. Doreen ultimately turned the camera in to the Eskasoni RCMP office, who looked up the police report and returned it in the mail to Anita, who must surely have been thunderstruck at the chain of events!Twyla Francois - Direct Action

Through the police, Anita was able to connect with Doreen to send her a Vegan gift basket. The recovered camera is now available for others to use for animal rights photography.

There are many heroes and heroines in this story. For her honesty, Doreen was sent $125 to cover the cost of the camera and additional amount as a “Thank You” for knowing in her heart that something was wrong with the purchase of such a high-end camera at such a cheap price. She really did something exceptional by returning the stolen camera, believing that she would never recover her $100, by empathizing with someone she had never met.  And the karma train took a bit more than six months,  but Anita Krajnc was ultimately repaid for her acts of kindness towards animals….

An Evening Of Classical Portuguese Equestrianism – With No Bull…

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Portuguese riders copy

Writing,  art, and photography by:  Heather Clemenceau

Despite opposition, the annual Bull-on-a-Rope Rodeo at the Oriental Sports Club in Cambridge, Ontario went ahead as planned on July 18th.  This is the event where the bull is tied to a hundred metre-long rope while challengers wave capes and umbrellas at the agitated animal, trying to escape without getting gored. Of course bulls are not easily intimidated by flimsy umbrellas and will not run away, but instead will defend themselves and charge their tormenters.  And both the bull and the guys on the rope know, the rope around the bull’s neck is more of a nuisance than anything else.  Professional matadors still get gored, so why does the bull-on-a-rope event seem like a good idea to anyone?

The good news is that attendance is down by about 2/3 rds over the heyday of Portuguese bull-themed events in the 90s. I guess the bad news is that while we might hope that people were finally losing touch with their inner matador, there are two more bull teasing events being held at this club later in the summer despite more opposition from Town Council members, protesters and the general public.

If you check the Oriental Club’s Facebook page you’ll see that a local resident who lives on the same street has left a review claiming that the noise level at this event has become unbearable. She accuses the club of blaring music from 9am to 2am, setting off firecrackers and various other noisemakers, and remarks on the intoxication of the attendees. Apparently, people living on Shellard Rd.will have to suffer two more weekends subjected to the sounds of a shooting range in their backyard along with an accompanying soundtrack by Seether (my guess is that they’re not into soft rock) blasting them at 100 decibels.

I also left a review, and someone, who appears to be associated with the club, left me a polite response that included a generic invitation to attend the event and make up my mind for myself. He cited the Cambridge Humane Society, who have rubber-stamped this event, as the quintessential authority on animal abuse. But I ruled it out, this time at least, because I’m not keen on going alone to any event two hours away from home on private property where drunkenness is apparently the rule rather than the exception. Even if it’s for charity.

There was another Portuguese-themed event being held in the equestrian town of Caledon the same evening, which was advertised as featuring a “mock bull-fight” with Lusitano horses. My interest was piqued – I wondered what a mock bull-fight could be, especially in close proximity to Lusitano horses? I knew that traditionally, the Portuguese bullfight took place while mounted on a pure bred Lusitano stallion.

Grelo Farms was the first Lusitano breeding facility in Canada and is currently home to over 30 horses, many owned by the students of Riding Master Frank Grelo’s school for the Portuguese tradition of Haute École. It was out of war exercises that these intricate movements and maneuvers eventually influenced the creation of the modern Spanish Riding School of Vienna and the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art.

Since the establishment of his riding school in 1978, Frank Grelo has devoted himself to breeding and training of the Lusitano horse while teaching the art of classical riding to his students. On this evening, Frank, his daughters, and his students, who rode stallions and mares together in the arena, put on an engaging show featuring both Lusitano stallions and their own horses – Lusitanos, Arabs, cross-breds, and other breeds. In addition to the presentation of baroque riding style and “airs above the ground,” the participants showcased collected movements like the passage, piaffe, travers, renvers, half-pass, pirouette, the spanish walk and the levade – where a horse is asked to hold a position about 30 degrees from the ground while standing. The show, part of the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Equestrian Games, also featured demonstrations of vaulting, Portuguese-styled gamesmanship, and riding while blindfolded, in both traditional and military costumes. The entire group demonstrated the classic Portuguese quadrille, all set to classical music. Frank and a student, riding a beautiful Lusitano/draft-cross mare, demonstrated a typical lesson format as well.

Real men do not taunt or hurt animals, and there are other ways of honouring one’s culture. In my opinion, a far more appropriate (and safer) event for charity, and one that offends no one, is the gala featuring baroque riding style rather than one featuring a testosterone-fuelled suicide-squad yanking a frustrated animal around on a rope.

Oh and the “mock bullfight?” The event was completely sans-bovine – the “bull” was a stuffed head with horns attached to a unicycle-like prop that an assistant pushed around the arena while Frank and a student rode their stallions.  The “bull” never makes contact with the horse at all.  The horses are not afraid of the prop either – they don’t shy away because they’ve seen it many times before.  Their practiced maneuvers around the bull-on-a-wheel were fluid, graceful, cadenced and……. cruelty-free.

 

Dairy Farms: Weaning Ourselves Off The Fairy-Tale

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Writing and Photography by:  Heather Clemenceau

Art by:  Twyla Francois Art

Twyla Francois Simon2015 is the 50th anniversary of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, and in June, 14 dairy farms opened their doors to the non-farming public. An Open House was held on June 27, 2015 at the Milky Wave dairy farm in the pastoral Mennonite community of Floradale, Ontario. Today there are hundreds of visitors, including many Mennonite families, sampling chocolate milk and ice cream.

This barn is probably one of the “jewels in the crown” of the DFO, who are the marketing representation for Ontario’s approximately 3,900 dairies. Designed to promote the excellence of milk and the humanity of it all, these tours seem like something of a fairy tale relative to the harsh reality documented during investigations by Mercy for Animals and other groups. Today’s visit is a good example of the dairy industry regrouping and rebranding for its very survival.

Most fairy tales began a long time ago and didn’t really begin with the kingdom the public sees on this visit. This 750 acre facility produces, aside from milk, mostly hay, soy, wheat and corn as feedstuffs for the cows. The Schuurmans family recently purchased this farm, after Henk Schuurmans functioned as the herd manager on the 210-cow dairy operation for 25 years (there are another 200+ cows/heifers/calves of various ages living on the farm). Prior to its expansion, the farm operated with 65 cows in a tie-stall barn.  Schuurmans also helped manage reconstruction after a devastating fire destroyed the barn (and presumably the cows) in 1997.

Brambell’s Five Freedoms

  1. Freedom from discomfort
  2. Freedom from pain, injury, or disease
  3. Freedom to express (most) normal behaviours
  4. Freedom from fear and distress
  5. Freedom from hunger or thirst

Farming practices in Canada have changed dramatically over the last 50 years. No longer do most cows live outside for even part of their day, as in those old dutch paintings of farms in the 1800s. The number of small family farms has significantly declined, and larger intensive farms have become the norm. Milky Wave is considered to be a “small” operation and it certainly is relative to larger farms such as Chilliwack Cattle Sales, the subject of a Mercy For Animals investigation. Despite the size of this farm, the cows do not have any access to pasture and they live Twyla Francois Cow Shadowtheir entire lives in various barns on the property according to their size, maturity, and reproduction/lactation status. Despite the scale, Milky Wave still fits the definition of a factory farm – utilizing modern machinery, biotechnology, automation, and standardization, all very efficiently. It operates with a minimum of staff and a minimum of interaction with the cows. New housing systems have resulted new animal welfare challenges, including lack of access to pasture, confinement, crowding, and the behavioural issues that result.

Every aspect of the operation seen here on this day appears to be consistent with current Codes of Practice for dairy cows (recommended,  but not obligatory in Ontario). Facilities like Milky Wave, which have increased mechanization and confinement in order to reduce labour costs, have addressed some animal health issues, while creating other new health and behavioural issues.

General commentary on the farm and its operations (via direct observation and confirmation from volunteers):

  • Milky Wave farm is a closed system – all cows are born on the farm
  • There are no bulls on this farm – AI is the only method used to make more cows as it poses less risk to employees who are not used to handling bulls.
  • The cows can move about the barns, moving from eating areas to raised platforms where they can doze or sleep, but density is fairly high
  • One humane improvement is that tails are not docked
  • All cows and calves are “head shy” – they move away when people approach
  • No sores visible on the cows – hocks seemed to be free of scrapes, which are a common source of infection in cattle
  • The production cows wear pedometers on their rear legs below the hocks, which record their movements, activity levels, production of milk, treatments and whether they are in heat according to algorithms in the software. Cows who are not ambulatory relative to the baselines/medians in the software are checked to make sure they are not ill.
  • Antibiotics are not used as preventatives, but only in cases of actual bacterial infection – this is course is due to the monitoring of drug withdrawal times and a cow on antibiotics is a cow whose milk will be destroyed for a predetermined period of time after treatment.
  • Young calves did not socially interact – their group housing barn was quite dark – they lie on their “mattresses” and don’t move about while I am there watching. They don’t seem to have any enrichment at all and aren’t interested in their surroundings. Their lives appear to be devoid of stimulation.
  • Only form of enrichment appeared to be the cow-activated body brushes which the cows often line up to use.
  • All cows appeared to have a body condition score of 2-3 based on the appearance of fat around the “hooks and pins” of their hip bones. This is considered to be a healthy weight for dairy cows.
  • Painful procedures are still a cause of concern for the welfare of dairy cattle. All heifers are de-horned at a young age in order to prevent injury to each other or to people later in life. Using a procedure called “disbudding,” the small emerging horn is usually prevented from growing by burning the tissue with a hot iron or a caustic chemical paste.
  • The public is not allowed into the milking parlour for hygienic reasons, and the presence of many strange people milling about is considered to be a stressor for cows.
  • The barn has concrete floors, which can cause lameness in cows over time
  • In Canada all dairy animals (alive or dead) are identified by the National Livestock Identification for Dairy (NLID) ear tags are required by Canadian law. Branding is not commonly practiced in the dairy industry.
  • Large fans keep air circulating in the two larger, high-ceilinged barns. The barns seem to be free of flying pests.
  • At the end of their production lives, the cows are picked up and sent directly to slaughter, after living only a fraction of their lifespan.
  • The youngest calves are housed in hutches in a separate barn – there are less than 10 tiny calves here today. The volunteers explain to the visitors that they must be removed from their mothers within 48 hours otherwise “the mother and baby will bond,” as if this is something that should be avoided at all costs. But the dairy industry has no use for a being who intends to drink the milk that they intend to use for profit.
  • The feed barn is set up to show visitors the various foodstuffs that go into feeding all the cows. Along with hay, corn silage, ground corn, extruded/pelleted feeds and mineral supplements, the feed is supplemented with powdered palm oil, which of course comes with its own separate issues with respect to habitat destruction. The calves are of course fed a milk substitute.
  • A mechanized system removes manure from most barns – like a giant windshield wiper, it channels manure and urine into a crevice in the floor, which is removed out to the manure holding tank via a system of conveyors. The floor is mostly free of manure – the slurry tank outside for storage is massive.

 

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The Canadian Federal and Provincial Governments have ensured that milk remains institutionalized in the Canadian diet by introducing a wide range of programs of grants, loans and other funding options for Canadian Farmers and Agri-Business. Through this system of grants, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs offers millions to dairy and other agricultural producers, including the Canadian Dairy Commission’s Matching Investment Fund (MIF), which is a three-year, $6 million fund designed to encourage growth and innovation in the manufacture and use of Canadian dairy products and ingredients. In the last three years alone, the dairy/cattle industry has benefited from numerous grant programs that we all pay for, whether there is reasonable humane treatment of cows or not:

 

Twyla Francois Handle With CareOne doesn’t need to be operating on a “vegan agenda” to object to the government funding an industry in the name of public health though, especially when the health benefits of dairy products are debateable. It’s also infuriating to imagine that an industry such as Chilliwack Cattle Sales near Vancouver, which milks an astonishing 3,500 cows at its main premises, might directly or indirectly benefit from a grant to improve its image as the most notorious dairy farm in Canada.  All the milk moustaches in advertising history couldn’t compensate for the torture of helpless Holsteins by unskilled, teenaged workers who ran wild in CCS. Open houses such as those at Milky Wave and a few other farms aren’t the only way the livestock industry struggles to improve its image – Alberta Farm Animal Care committed $178,500 to help the industry overcome the “negative, inaccurate and falsified blows to animal agriculture.” The best way to prevent horrific truths from being seen by the public is to take steps to make sure that they don’t happen in the first place…

Milk has become knit into our dietary culture, particularly at breakfast, where we stubbornly adhere to the decades-old Twyla Francois Crushing Compassiontradition of drenching cereal in milk. Whether you believe that dairy is healthy or not, we have bought into false notions that milk is deserving of its own food group, overlooking its sugar (lactose), calories and cholesterol. And the fact that dairy has its own food group with milk having special status as a calcium source makes as much sense as sunflower seeds being a food group because they’re high in magnesium.

Despite some improvements in animal welfare, there remain many problems with dairy both from a nutritional standpoint and from an animal rights standpoint. Regardless of whether or not casein is carcinogenic or whether 60 year-olds with fragile bones can benefit by drinking milk, is it not time that adults weaned themselves off the fairytale version of farming and began to judge it by the standards by which we judge other industries?

“Me And My Fake Service Dog…..”

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Is there anyone who doesn't suffer from some kind of stress or anxiety? But that doesn’t mean we should feel entitled about taking our dog, snake, or llama to places where only service animals should go.

Is there anyone alive who doesn’t suffer from some kind of stress or anxiety? But that doesn’t mean we should feel entitled about taking our dog, snake, or llama to places where only service animals should go.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

…..was the title of a recent (but hastily deleted) article by New York City dog trainer Anna Jane Grossman. With equal parts delusion, narcissism, and fakery, Ms. Grossman set about describing the deceptive tactics she uses to take her Yorkipoo Amos, who is certainly cute but is not a service dog, to places generally accessible only by service animals.

Grossman, whose food of life appears to be attention, suggests that her motivation lies in requests by her clients at the “School For The Dogs,” who asked how they could bring their dogs to visit in hospitals, or restaurants, and travel on planes. She asserts that this might be the beginning of a movement to “stop segregating dogs based on their owner’s disabilities, and instead look at the dog’s abilities.”

Ms. Grossman also acknowledged having a friend create a fake service dog ID, and she went on to use that fake ID when questioned by shop owners about Amos’ status as a service dog. In a dispute with a tax driver, Grossman was further emboldened by the fact that she was able to get the police to side with her.  (I hope she thinks long and hard about the fact that she called the police out on a frivolous complaint against an innocent person in order to perpetuate her falsity).

“It’s a good thing the cop knew that the Americans With Disabilities Act precluded him from asking what my disability was. That’s because I don’t have one.”

 

 

Boom! But the karma train pulled rather quickly into the station, and there was an astounding backlash against Grossman for her deception. In a move that was the opposite of shocking, she issued a stirring non-apology and quickly deleted the post from Medium.com. For a few days the Google cache remained available, and then it too was gone. However, an astute individual made a YouTube video of the post.

The US Department of Justice to crack down on the sale of fake service dog products.  If the fake service dog scam continues to escalate, real service dogs, and the privileges and respect they are entitled to, will be in jeopardy.

There needs to be a crack down on the sale of fake service dog products. If the fake service dog scam continues to escalate, real service dogs, and the privileges and respect they are entitled to, will be in jeopardy.

Grossman certainly isn’t the only unrepentant person to have created an online shit-storm by confessing to using a pretend service animal. Outrage followed the story of New Yorkers Brett David and Kate Vlasovskaya, who were featured in the New York Post. Both David and Vlasovskaya boasted about using fake ID cards and service vests to gain admittance into movie theaters, restaurants, nightclubs, Whole Foods, Starbucks, etc. They merely explained it away as something that’s “becoming more popular now.”

I know that some people reading this are wondering aloud now, what can be wrong with this “crime?” Where do we actually draw the line of pushing our dogs into no-access spaces? After all, most people doing this sort of thing just want to spend more time with their dogs, or they want to avoid having to check them as “baggage” on a plane (an issue I can definitely relate to, knowing that pets kept in the hold of a plane have gone long periods without water, gotten lost, arrived dead, or escaped on the runway). While the sentiment to allow our dogs in more public spaces is not unreasonable, the method Grossman and others have used is ethically challenged. I also believe that there’s something profoundly disturbing about professionals who counsel their clients to become practiced liars at the expense of others.

Fake service dogs set up the real ones for failure, because people then assume all dogs will act up.  When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

Fake service dogs set up the real ones for failure, because people then assume all dogs will act up. When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

An increasing number of fakers have embraced the bogus service dog movement, which essentially requires one to pretend to have a disability. People with no disabilities or serious psychiatric disorders are buying fake service or therapy dog tags and vests online. While all dogs provide emotional support to us in one way or another, the designation of emotional support dog is only applicable to animals who have been “prescribed” by a licensed mental health professional. If you have the money, it’s not difficult to obtain a letter from an online mental health professional stating that one needs their pet as an “emotional support animal,” even though the professional has never treated the “patient” personally. Airlines such as Air Canada have taken to discouraging such one-time diagnoses, by requiring the person with the ESA to present a letter dated within the last six months, from a mental health practitioner who is currently treating the patient, and who has diagnosed them with a condition present in the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association) and restricting access to dogs only.

Not only is it bad form to use a fake assistance animal, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s a federal crime to take advantage of privileges reserved for those who genuinely need the assistance of such animals. In the United States, the ADA defines a person with a disability as “…a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The ADA also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on that person’s association with a person with a disability.”

Please don’t participate in service dog fakery.  There are too many ethical ramifications for this behaviour. Service dogs have no price tag.

Please don’t participate in service dog fakery. There are too many ethical ramifications for this behaviour. Service dogs have no price tag.

 

In Canada, the Human Rights Code of Ontario (where I live) defines a disability as “…any degree of physical disability, infirmity,malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device.”

The reality is that the entire service animal community suffers as this trend increases, because business owners, gatekeepers, and the general public are growing increasingly skeptical of assistance animals, and are likely to hold human/animal teams to a lower standard of behaviour if they simply act like any other pet. The act of misrepresenting a pet as a service animal is one of the primary factors that are responsible for the prevalence of access challenges to the disabled. Those with service dogs should never be put in the position of arguing with a gatekeeper in order to gain access to buildings and services.

Advocates of both pets and the disabled are divided as to how to police those who abuse service animal privileges, and some are calling for government to better regulate and enforce service animal rules around the country. Groups and individuals who train service or therapy animals do not want their efforts to be meaningless, nor do they need the general public to make assumptions that helper animals are poorly behaved. There seems to be a general consensus that certified animals should be required to be trained by an accredited facility. Or, at the very least, what is needed is a single-source visible identification for service/therapy animals, which is clear to business owners, transit staff, and landlords that the animal is actually certified (along with serious penalties for those who ignore the absolute rights of the disabled).

An emotional-support card merely means that one’s pet is registered in a database of animals whose owners have paid money to one of several organizations,  which in all probability aren't recognized anywhere.  If you want to turn your pet into a certified E.S.A., all you need is a therapist type who will vouch for your mental un-health. Don’t have one? Enter “emotional-support animal” into Google and take your pick among hundreds of willing professionals.

If you want to turn your pet into a certified E.S.A., all you need is a therapist type who will vouch for your mental un-health. Don’t have one? Enter “emotional-support animal” into Google and take your pick among hundreds of willing “professionals.”

Guide and service dogs are lifelines for their owners – in order to have a bona-fide service dog, one must be disabled within the definition of the law. Service dogs are not pets. They:

  • Are individually trained to perform work for a disabled person, and their skill relates directly to the nature of the individual’s disability
  • May alert people who are deaf, having a seizure, reminding people to take medications, calming people with PTSD or anxiety attacks, or other duties.
  • Receive many hours of socialization and temperament testing.
  • Are assessed for 18 to 24 months to see if they have the right temperament and abilities to be placed with a person in need.
  • Are typically breeds that are naturally well-mannered and even-tempered. Breeds classified as livestock guardians or fighting dogs can have aggression-related breed traits that can be problematic
  • Receive learning appropriate behaviour in a wide variety of public environments.
  • Are usually raised for the role of a service dog since puppyhood.

    Carry a baby down the aisle of an airplane and passengers look at you as if you were toting a machine gun. Imagine, then, what it’s like travelling with a pig.  A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. The individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.  But this poor pig was not ready for air travel,  since he/she pooped in the aisle and he and his owner were removed from the plane.   Animals get stressed in strange situations too.  If you can’t go on a plane without an emotional support animal,  think how the animal probably feels.

    A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the animal is not housebroken. The individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. But this poor pig was not ready for air travel, since he/she pooped in the aisle and he and his owner were removed from the plane.
    Animals get stressed in strange situations too. If you can’t go on a plane without an emotional support animal, think how the animal probably feels.

The worst case scenario of an access challenge, despite its illegality, is one that is not resolved quickly and to the benefit of the disabled person. The Walt Disney Company felt compelled to change its disabled guest policy at theme parks in 2013 partly due to “abuse of the system.” The announcement came after reports surfaced that wealthy guests were paying wheelchair-riding tour guides top dollar so that the group could use the line-skipping privileges granted to the disabled at Disney theme parks. The Toronto Star recently reported on a shocking situation where two blind women were utterly humiliated and threatened with handcuffing by the police when they declined to muzzle their guide dogs on a Jet Airways flight out of Toronto.

We live in a generation of  scammers who flash fake I.D.s, able-bodied adults who use handicapped placards on their vehicles, and grocery customers who try to slip too many items into the express lane. Running fake service dog ID websites might also classify you as a grifter.  Certifications have become less meaningful too – even the Long Island Medium, who pretends to talk to dead people, has been a “certified” medium for over 10 years!  Proof that you can certify anything…..

While more understanding of accessibility legislation overall is needed,  we still must have integrity in the system and make an effort to ensure the right accesses for individuals with their certified dogs, while safeguarding the public with high training standards.

Canine Companions for Independence has introduced a pledge to protect the rights of people who legitimately need service dogs – please consider signing!

 

Dogs really are the best, but with that said, my dog could never pass as any sort of service animal, not even if I bribed her with a Costco-sized bag of Beggin’ Strips.  She’s mostly blind and afflicted with kidney disease, so she really needs her own guide dog.  But if I have about $35 for a card and another $55 for a photo ID (meaningless vest from $48) I can have a service dog.

Dogs really are the best, but with that said, my dog could never pass as any sort of service animal, not even if I bribed her with a Costco-sized bag of Beggin’ Strips. She’s mostly blind, completely toothless,  hard-of-smelling,  sleeps 20 hours a day, and is afflicted with kidney disease and therefore on meds, so she really needs her own guide dog. But if I have about $35 for a card and another $55 for a photo ID (meaningless vest from $48) I too can have a service dog.

AQHA Brazenly Promotes Horse Slaughter For Wild Horses And Burros In New Anti-SAFE Act Propaganda Piece

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Craig Huffhines

AQHA Executive Vice-President Craig Huffhines

 

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

In a brazen move that would make Sue Wallis proud,  the AQHA has sent to its Canadian members, a propaganda piece that insisted that the S.A.F.E. Act would create a “hellish demise” for horses,  of “starvation, abuse and neglect.”

It’s difficult to imagine such contrived ignorance exists to such a degree outside of the BLM itself when it comes to wild equines.  Yet in the massmail entitled “Unsafe Consequences,”  the group specifically mentions the “overpopulation” of the wild horses and burros,  juxtaposing the costs of the BLM holding facilities with the convenient way of eliminating the problem – restoring slaughter to the United States!  Not only is the wilfully-blind AQHA  on a non-stop  crusade to promote slaughter for their own breed,  they’re encroaching onto the issue of protected wild horses and burros – a comprehensive extermination campaign designed to eliminate all “undesirable” equines.

Here is an excerpt of the “facts” they present in their massmail,  which can be read here and is included below.

 

  • The Government Accountability Office reported that about 138,000 unwanted horses were transported to processing facilities in 2010.

  • The United States Department of Agriculture reports that 144,000 horses were transported to processing facilities in 2014.

  • USDA reports that there are nearly 50,000 wild horses and burros on Bureau of Land Management land, which is 22,500 more than what that land can naturally support.

  • USDA also reports that there are more than 47,000 wild horses and burros in short- and long-term holding facilities.

  • The cost of the wild horse and burro program – $77,245,000 in fiscal year 2014 – is coming out of U.S. taxpayers’ pockets.

If this enrages you,  please take a moment to send a response to them below or via their contact form:

Twitter: @AQHA

Mailing Address
AQHA
P. O. Box 200
Amarillo, TX 79168

Overnight Mailing
American Quarter Horse Association
1600 Quarter Horse Dr.
Amarillo, TX 79104

Phone
806-376-4811
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Central

Fax
806-349-6411

 

Please read the entire communication below:

Racing Carnage: Horseracing Wrongs 2014 Death Stats Visualized

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Writing and Data Wrangling by:  Heather Clemenceau

Data reproduced with permission of Patrick Battuello – http://www.horseracingwrongs.com

Most of the followers of this blog are familiar with Patrick Battuello and his meticulous collection of stats on the deaths and injuries of racehorses across the United States via his blog HorseracingWrongs.  I was recently sent his 2014 compilation of information on racing deaths for 2014,  and immediately I knew that,  as a visual person,  I wanted to see it represented in pictures and graphs.  So I took Patrick’s data line by line,  recorded each horse’s age at death,  the track info,  plugged it all in an Excel spreadsheet,  added state,  city,  and zip codes for each of the tracks,  scrubbed and sorted the data,  and then imported it all into Tableau for visualization.  It’s so disturbing to see the number of deaths of 1 year-olds in training at various tracks,  as well as horses of the “advanced” age of 10.  The average age of nearly 1,000 dead race horses was only 3.9 years. 
horse racing deaths visual analysis

Click to embiggen – each circle represents a track within a state – the larger the circle the greater the number of horses killed on the track.

Deaths per state/track are also very revealing,  the greatest number of deaths occurring at Charles Town (West Virginia), Gulfstream (Florida), and Turf (Arizona).
Horse Racing Deaths 2014

Click to embiggen – Hold the “Ctrl” key and press the “+” key to zoom in (press “-” to zoom out) or if you have a mouse with a wheel, hold the “Ctrl” key on the keyboard and then scroll the wheel up to zoom in (scroll down to zoom out)

There are certainly more deaths than what is represented here.  Patrick was limited in what he was given via FOIA requests,  while other tracks maintained that they didn’t keep lists,  didn’t recognize training deaths, didn’t provide complete information,  claimed that they were prohibited by law from providing information,  or simply denied requests.  The information obtained does not even include deaths that occurred at private farms, training centers, or rescue facilities,  nor does it include “non-racing” fatalities such as colic or laminitis.  In turn,  I was somewhat limited in my ability to determine whether tracks had been sold and changed names with or without the complication of bankruptcy, and where they were located in states/cities.The data certainly tells a story. But even if we estimate that the deaths are double the numbers captured,  visualizations on graphs do not include all the other horses slaughtered in Canadian or Mexican plants last year,  which is where many of them go when they lose one too many a race.

Raw Data below:

 

AQHA Political Action Committee Sets Goal to Derail S.A.F.E. Act Despite Huge Losses

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money-bag-filled-with-moneyWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

It’s no secret that the AQHA, the largest non-profit breed association in the world, takes the most destructive and inhumane approach to horse slaughter of any of the breed groups. On the one hand, they have a Mission Statement to ensure the American Quarter Horse is treated humanely, with dignity, respect and compassion at all times. However, the world’s largest breed registry needs a system to make room for the continuing mass production, hence their business model is to breed as many horses as possible (thus maintaining new memberships and registrations thus ensuring that they are a self-perpetuating entity) while discarding older  or surplus horses and horses with undesirable conformation to slaughter plants.

The AQHA also has a less-well known political action committee – AQHPAC which has set a goal of raising $250,000 by the 2016 elections, in part to fight the malicious agendas of misguided groups like the Humane Society Of The United States. Political donations are used to promote politicians who support the “horse industry,” and advance their collective agenda. Of course, you can own several horses or run a training barn or a veterinary practice, but if you’re among the 80% of Americans opposed to slaughtering horses, you’re not officially part of the “horse industry” according to the AQHA. A specific goal of the AQHPAC is to defeat the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 1942 which was re-introduced in 2015 to prevent the establishment of horse slaughter operations in the US, and end the current export of American horses to Canada and Mexico.  It’s an unbelievable slap in the face to the anti-slaughter advocates who worked incesssantly for months to ensure that the previous incarnation of the act could be passed.

In 2014, here’s what the list of contributions from the AQHPAC to federal candidates looked like:

House

 

Total to Democrats: $11,500
Total to Republicans: $51,500

 

Aderholt, Robert B (R-AL) $2,500
Alexander, Rodney (R-LA) ($1,000)
Amodei, Mark (R-NV) $2,000
Barrow, John (D-GA) $500
Blackburn, Marsha (R-TN) $500
Boehner, John (R-OH) $2,500
Carter, John (R-TX) $1,500
Cole, Tom (R-OK) $2,500
Conaway, Mike (R-TX) $1,000
Costa, Jim (D-CA) $1,500
Crawford, Rick (R-AR) $500
Cuellar, Henry (D-TX) $2,500
Fleischmann, Chuck (R-TN) $2,000
Fortenberry, Jeff (R-NE) $500
Gibbs, Bob (R-OH) $500
Goodlatte, Bob (R-VA) $2,500
Granger, Kay (R-TX) $2,000
Graves, Sam (R-MO) $1,000
Graves, Tom (R-GA) $2,000
Hartzler, Vicky (R-MO) $1,500
Herrera Beutler, Jaime (R-WA) $2,000
Hinojosa, Ruben (D-TX) $1,500
Kind, Ron (D-WI) $500
King, Steven A (R-IA) $1,500
Lucas, Frank D (R-OK) $2,500
Lummis, Cynthia Marie (R-WY) $500
Mullin, Markwayne (R-OK) $2,000
Noem, Kristi (R-SD) $1,000
Nunnelee, Alan (R-MS) $2,500
Peterson, Collin (D-MN) $2,500
Roby, Martha (R-AL) $2,000
Rogers, Hal (R-KY) $2,500
Schrader, Kurt (D-OR) $2,500
Scott, Austin (R-GA) $1,000
Sessions, Pete (R-TX) $2,500
Simpson, Mike (R-ID) $1,000
Thornberry, Mac (R-TX) $1,000
Valadao, David (R-CA) $2,000
Womack, Steve (R-AR) $2,000
Yoder, Kevin (R-KS) $1,000
Yoho, Ted (R-FL) $500

 

 Senate

 

Total to Democrats: $2,500
Total to Republicans: $19,100

 

Alexander, Lamar (R-TN) $1,000
Cassidy, Bill (R-LA) $2,500
Cochran, Thad (R-MS) $2,500
Cornyn, John (R-TX) $2,600
Enzi, Mike (R-WY) $1,500
Ernst, Joni (R-IA) $1,500
Gardner, Cory (R-CO) $0
Inhofe, James M (R-OK) $1,500
Kingston, Jack (R-GA) $1,000
Moran, Jerry (R-KS) $500
Pryor, Mark (D-AR) $2,500
Risch, James E (R-ID) $1,500
Rounds, Mike (R-SD) $1,500
Sasse, Ben (R-NE) $1,500

 

Source: Opensecrets.org and based on data released by the FEC on March 09, 2015

(credit to the Center For Responsive Politics)

 

Here’s a list of contributors to this PAC from individuals donors of $250 or more – there’s a few recognizable names here (including billionaire Forrest Lucas of Protect the Harvest and Dr.Tom Lenz, the subject matter expert for the American Horse Council, which is the Farm Bureau of the equine world). It’s a list comprised of feedlot owners, veterinarians, ranchers, truckers, farm managers, business owners, horse trainers and other people who need the availability of slaughter, because without it, “it’s gonna cost me $2,000 and I still don’t have a place to bury it.” It goes without saying that anyone on this list donating $250 – $5,000 can afford to euthanize a horse.

 

 

Amid this lobbying effort the AQHA is in a clear financial crisis – growth in both horse populations are net negative almost without exception across the United States. Since 2008 they’ve lost over 90,000 memberships.  The organization spends lots of money on elite shows,  while relying on the revenue of the average horse person,  who appears to be fleeing the scene.

 

The All About Cutting blog has done a thorough job documenting the devastating downward trajectory of the non-profit,  using their 990s from Guidestar.

From the Blog:

“REVENUES VS EXPENSES:

While reviewing their 990 IRS tax filing, the most glaring revelation is the organization’s posting of another significant loss of $692,687 for the year ending Sept. 30, 2013, as opposed to a Hot-100$3,445,679 loss for the year ending Sept. 30, 2012.  When this loss is added to the previous four years of losses, they total close to $17.5 million, or specifically $17,484,806 in lost revenue. That’s an average loss of close to $3.5 million per year. The largest loss of over $7 million took place in the 2008 tax return.

ASSETS VS LIABILITIES:

The tax return ending Sept. 30, 2013, reports total assets for the beginning of the year of $56,223,930 and $50,276,281 at the end of the year or a major loss of close to $6 million in assets just this past year alone.  In the past five years, assets have dropped from $66,850,420 listed in the 2008 tax return, which ended on Sept. 30, 2009, down to $50,276,281 at Sept. 30, 2013. That’s a drop of close to $16.6 million, or $16,574,139 in five years.”

Despite the spending and the falling revenues, salaries are up and employee head count is increasing, while individuals on the board with family businesses benefit financially by association.  If that isn’t bad enough,  the non-profit appears to be continuing to pay individuals who have had very public retirements.  What’s the reason for this? At this point the average goat herder could head up the organization with more integrity and management insight than the good ‘ol boys inner circle at the AQHA.

top hat tip DebbyInstead of trying to fight against animal welfare groups, the AQHA should be setting aside funds to care for unwanted horses that resulted from rampant over-breeding that the horse-riding public cannot absorb. Fewer horses produced by responsible breeding practices would result in higher prices at the sale barn and private treaty sales.

Contributory practices include the AQHA’s multiple-embryo-transfer rule that facilitates overpopulation by allowing mares to have more than one foal per year. Rules about using frozen semen or eggs from long-sterile or dead animals allowed horses to breed from beyond the grave. Anytime you take a single individual and increase its ability to generate offspring you will decrease the variation in the genetic pool and lead to inbreeding and possibly disease. AQHA should also not permit the breeding of any horses who are either heterozygous or homozygous for Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP), an inherited genetic disease of the muscle which could be eliminated if only the AQHA had the will. And halter horses?  Just stop breeding these post-legged, big-bodied,  poorly conformed horses on tiny hooves that are likely to mechanically break down. There’s absolutely no reason why halter horses can’t have conformation conducive to carrying a rider through normal equine usage.  You cannot maintain the integrity of the breed by permitting any of these practices. AQHA President Dr. Blodgett should be fired.

The goal of “treating horses humanely” is one that’s incompatible with over-breeding and slaughter.  The AQHA PAC should come with its own disclaimer – unfit for human consumption, and everyone involved in setting it up should make a swan dive into an active volcano.