Monthly Archives: February 2014

Open Letter to Ontario Farm And Food Care (And Their “Security Squad”)

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whistleblower5

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

According to the Toronto Sun, Ontario farmers have developed a “security squad” against animal activists.  The paper reports that farmers are monitoring activities online and calling out this squad on a moment’s notice when activists appear on farms or meetings.  The Sun goes on to report that:

“Kristen Kelderman of Farm & Food Care says the Guelph, Ont.-based non-profit works “behind the scenes” to see what activists are planning and to prepare for a response.

Farm & Food Care has a hotline farmers can use to call in the emergency squad.”

whistleblower2The Farm and Food Care newsletter and website, which has curiously been down all day at the time of writing, also expressed concern about ATI requests (Access to Information) that were being received and processed by the government as it concerned information about farming practices.  Your organization also recommends that farmers record license numbers of vehicles on the street near their farms, which smacks of DEFCON-5 level conspiracist thinking.  Would I be a conspiracist if I thought that your newsletter was taken down to scrub it free of incriminating information about dealing with the OSPCA and the Access to Information enquiries?

First off,  please be reminded that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is entrenched in Canada’s constitution, guarantees freedom of peaceful assembly in section 2(c)  If you truly had a security problem, wouldn’t your organization be better off calling the police rather than some nebulous team you’ve assembled?  To me, that suggests that what you’re encountering isn’t illegal activity at all, but instead activity that you would somehow like your “security squad” to intimidate and suppress.

Cases of animal abuse are widespread and well-documented and they are not isolated incidents. Any time someone turns on the video camera, they can find abuse because it is standard industry practice–and for a very good reason.  Abusive practices enable farmers to control profit margins. The more animals are crammed into smaller spaces, moved quicker through assembly lines, and treated as commodities instead of the sentient animals they are, the more money to be made. Thanks to activists, we now know that grinding live chicks up in a wood-chipper-machine or suffocating chicks in plastic bags is standard practice, as is grinding up piglets and back-feeding them to other pigs.  This practice,  when it happened with cow feed,  caused the 2003 Bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis when governments failed to regulate heat-treating in feed plants to ensure it was sufficient to denature prions,  which carry the disease between individuals and cause deterioration of the brain.

ego-eco Christian conservative Matthew Scully, deputy director of presidential speech writing for George W. Bush, had this to say in his book Dominion. “...the persistent animal-welfare questions of our day center on institutional cruelties—on the vast and systematic mistreatment of animals that most of us never see.” When conservatives like Scully begin writing books about the cruelty, you know something is seriously wrong. The right-wing is not usually willing to denounce lucrative business practices even when they entail gross abuse of animals or the environment.

If you are a farmer, agricultural industry manager or worker, do you feel good about everything you do? Are you being honest with everyone about your operations? Most activists are simply advocating for humane farming practices – that animals should not be forced to live in torment.  Those who wish to expose those practices are not terrorists. If jamming pregnant female animals into crates so tight that they can’t lie down or turn around for months is such a delightfully ethical practice, why aren’t tours being arranged for school kids? Why not show them chicks being tossed into the wood chipper? Let the poor harassed farmers shine a light onto their humane farms! Because they have nothing to hide…..right?  If your membership has nothing to hide, why are they instructed to contact your organization if they become aware of an ATI (Access to Information Request) for their industry?

I do not respect your attempts to try and criminalize activism. Please respect the right of thoughtful citizens to express what they see as a moral outrage. Animal abuse videos have mobilized a movement towards Martin Luther Kingimproving the quality of life of pigs, chickens, and cows. Frequently, “abuse” is a product of farmers feeling rushed or cutting corners.  I resent the comments sometimes made by far right groups that these videos are edited or compile days of footage distilled down to a few short minutes of cruelty.   This is like saying “we didn’t mistreat any animals for the other 23 hours and 57 minutes, so the 3 minutes we did doesn’t count.”

In the absence of the animal welfare movement, there is an obvious race to the bottom. Battery cages and gestation crates are a classic example of this, while the quality of life of a chicken or pig in a bigger more enriched cage is improved, farmers or agribusiness won’t make these investments unless there exists political pressure. This political pressure comes from us activists.

Please don’t give your membership advice on how to support animal cruelty.  Most of the activists I know personally are a bunch of mainstream, milquetoast environmentalists and animal lovers who are about as “dangerous” as the Rotary Club.  I don’t know anyone who personally protests at farms, but as long as they stay on public property, they have a right to be there.  You don’t have any problem “infiltrating” our meetings, and following our activity online, but you have a little problem with a quid pro quo?  Seems rather hypocritical to me.

Oh yeah, always remember to be on the alert for suspicious compassionate people. You never know when one will sneak up and hug you.

 Food-Labels-Organic-and-Natural

Killing, To “Save” Animals?

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unicorn and rhino

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Can you ever kill animals to save them?  That seems to be the premise lately, with both black rhinos and now the juvenile reticulated giraffe from the Copenhagen Zoo, Marius, suddenly being deemed worth more dead than alive.  Just as with horse slaughter, there are a lot of excuses bandied about as to why both animals must die.  But internet commenters have punched through all of the rationalizations and arguments made by both the Safari Club and the Copenhagen Zoo.  Animal advocates know all too well that when commercialization of animals  takes over, ethics  become clouded.

Endangered Newfoundland Pony

Endangered Newfoundland Pony

The powers that be at Copenhagen Zoo saw no alternative but to wield the axe down on the giraffe, since it has been claimed that he was genetically unsuitable for further breeding in the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria program.  Animals in EAZA programs are allowed to breed whether they are needed or not, and the “surplus” animals are usually killed and used as a food source for carnivores.  Accredited American and Canadian zoos tend to breed only when they know where the animal is going, but EAZA zoos believe in breeding as a sort of “self actualization” for animals, since many of their wild behaviours cannot be acted upon in a zoo enviro.  EAZA zoos have got that “puppymill” mentality when it comes to reproducing animals which for the most part, are not even endangered.

An average of only 13% of species kept in European zoos are classified as “globally threatened” and on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species,  which makes you wonder why the zoo is breeding reticulated giraffes in the first place,  since they aren’t endangered,  while several other sub-species are on the critical list. And the young giraffe could only ever be a surplus animal in the program since his “dead-end” genetics would have been anticipated before he was even born. So, Marius’ killing was little more than a canned hunt in the name of animal science. Consistent with the concept of a canned hunt,  we saw that the zoo director and veterinarian were really heartless, and saw their charge as nothing more than a collection of organs to be cut open and put on display.

Both the giraffe killing and the proposed Safari Club rhino hunt in Namibia are predicated on the belief that the killing of these animals differs little from what happens to giraffes and rhinos in the wild on a daily basis. A

The Canadian Horse,  despite a revival in Canada,  is still mostly found only Quebec and Ontario.

The Canadian Horse, despite a revival in Canada, is still mostly found only in Quebec and Ontario.

“natural” life—to use the words of English philosopher Thomas Hobbes is fraught with “continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  I just don’t see how it’s possible to kill an animal for a donation that may not be wholly used towards conservation anyway.  It sends the message that trophy hunting — and that’s what this is — is humane and justifiable if it’s offset by some charitable act.

Killing animals who are “surplus” isn’t mercy killing, it’s premeditated killing. Every species must have a purpose to survive – and wild animals all have a purpose.  But does a draft horse have the responsibility of being 1,200 lbs of meat for a chef?  The notorious Ken-L-Ration plant slaughtered massive numbers of draft horses and other breeds, almost insatiably. It canned horse meat for dog food and just about drained the west dry of horses.  In this British Pathé video from 1948, up to 80% of all post-war era horses were slaughtered for meat.  Like current day kill buyers, “agents” scoured the country horse fairs, snatching up horses for meat, squeezing out farmers who also wanted to purchase horses for farm work.

I copied the post below from United Horsemen’s Facebook page.  It’s a post imploring people to keep rare breeds of horses alive by breeding without a market and slaughtering whatever can’t be sold.  Notice how important it is to the author that her “name will be on the pedigrees of some of those horses as the breeder from the past,” even if the majority of horses she produces are slaughtered for food

The endangered Cleveland Bay horse

The endangered Cleveland Bay horse

“I have noticed MANY riding type horse breeders recently announcing the discontinuation and sell-out of their breeding stock, and am deeply saddened by it. Forgive me for another”draft-horse experience” rant, but I hope some will try to hold on a little longer from exiting…to stop breeding devastates ANY breed-and the antis really dont give a crap about that….

ALL belgian drafts, irregardless of the country they are in, descend from this horse. EVERYONE of his foals were in HIGH demand at that time-to think of sending ANY sound one to slaughter would have been unthinkable. At that time, the value of draft horses completely outpaced other types of horses, even that of race horses. It was almost a frenzy-they were extremely valuable.

There is NO use for draft horses now a days-tractors and trucks completely replaced them. There is no demand for them-as I wrote before, the number of horses in this breed has

Rare Sugarbush Draft Horse

Rare Sugarbush Draft Horse

dwindled to far less than 1000 foals per year-and that was 12 years ago. (I am still awaiting current numbers) They are bred by people who are desparately trying to save the breed, and most of these people are in no way wealthy. This horse is dead now, but over half his weanling foals were sold to slaughter, and as yearlings, even more ended up as a delicious steak dinner-not because people bred for meat-but because they know that to stop breeding would be the death to this breed, and just maybe the foal might be exceptional enough to carry on the breed. The money received from the sale of the foal for meat enabled them to afford to breed again and once again hope for an exceptional foal.

Just like draft horse breeders faced in the 1950s, the light horse breeders are facing now. Should they let the breed and important bloodlines be flushed away because they personally didnt like the idea of having to sell foals for meat and/or didnt like others to “gossip” and unfairly degrade someone as a breeder because they sold foals for meat?? You light horse breeders need to think about where you stand…are your HORSES and bloodlines more important, or are the rants of a few “holier-than-thou-art” anti-slaughter trashheaps more important. Forgive me for bringing up the election once again, but it doesnt look like the economy is improving or will be soon. Due to many issues, food animal production is slowing and therefore values will increase, and I highly suspect horse slaughter prices will also increase as breeders cut back.

The Suffolk Punch has become an endangered breed

With the reopening of domestic slaughter soon, any foal of mine that I dont sell privately and send to a sale will have a medication-free paper signed just as my cattle do, and I will have a minimum bid for the registration/pedigree transfer. The value of my foal will be that of the buyer, and if the foal ends up as dinner, it is just part of life. And I will reinvest that money into my breed again….hopefully, in the year 2100, Belgian Heavy Drafts will still be around, and my name will be on the pedigrees of some of those horses as the breeder from the past. And this will be due to doing what I had to to ensure the survival of the breed and a few of the bloodlines within it-embracing the meat market. We draft horse breeders had to face reality-aside from Armaggedon happening, there is little use for horses and it is harder for people to afford them…The light horse industry is now facing this-and the breeders must now decide the fate of their treasured breed..I hope you all think very deeply about this…

The last few years have devastated the breed even more-the cost of everything in Europe is MUCH higher than here-on top of a world-wide depressed economy. The one thing that

breeders can count on there is that they will get a base price for their foals which covers the breeding and a SMALL income-that encourages them to breed, hoping for higher

Hackney Horses have become a rarity in the horse world

Hackney Horses have become a rarity in the horse world

quality foals, but confident they have a market for ALL foals, irregardless of quality (of course, higher quality foals sell for more for breeding/use which of course they would prefer) Having NO slaughter would mean not being able to have a base market and price to sell foals-and would bring nearly ALL breeding to a screeching halt-which would immediately devastate the breeds. We who raise drafts have been use to this for years, but now it is caught up to the saddle breeds-and many breeders are having a hard time accepting this. I have a VERY BIG PROBLEM with people just saying “dont breed”. That is NOT the problem-the problem is our base market has been stripped from us by people who dont even breed or raise horses and dont care about our breeds. WE NEED SLAUGHTER BACK FOR THE SAKE OF KEEPING MANY BREEDS FROM BECOMING “EXTINCT”!!”

I do agree that it’s important to try to save breeds like this, but they should not be “maintained” by slaughter. Can we please neuter the people who believe the only way to save animals is to eat them?  I’m sick of reading that anthropocentrically arrogant and insensitively heartless logic. Slaughtering 80% of horses, especially at the expense of people who wanted to buy them for their own use, is something approaching extermination, not conservation or maintenance of a breed. Industrialization has meant that draft horses are no longer heavily in demand, while other breeds became endangered or even extinct. But why breed something for which there is no market?  Do reputable businesses produce a product first and then figure out how to market and sell it afterwards?  No – they have business plans which they regularly evaluate and modify for market conditions.  The constant breeding and culling has to stop.  All the rationalization for killing surplus animals destroys humanity and declares it absurd.  It would be far better to promote draft breeds for sustainable logging operations and breed them responsibly for those occupations than constantly shout into a gale, blaming others for the decline in your horse market. Or if you can’t sell your horses,  just stop breeding.

Flashpoint incidents like the killing of Marius and the auction to kill a black rhino are clear signs that the information gap is closing on all sorts of cruelty to animals in the world, and that public opinion will eventually signal the end of complacency and superficial rationalization. It’s our hearts that make us humane, not our minds.

Meet Troy Mader – The New “Slaughterhouse Sue”

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Shot by Knight rifle

From the Knight Muzzleloading Rifle Facebook album

Written By:  Heather Clemenceau

To say that Wyoming is a conservative state probably doesn’t even begin to capture it. Republicans hold nearly every elected office, and gun ownership and hunting are as much a part of a their cherished way of life as are ranching and rodeo. Just like Sue Wallis, who was often touted as a horse industry expert despite not owning any horses, her replacement for House District 52 in Wyoming seems to have an embellished C.V. as well. Troy Mader is occasionally put forth as a “scientist” who is an expert on wolves and other species of animals, not to mention AIDS, while he appears to have completed only 1 1/2 years of university in an unknown field of study.

In her support for same-sex civil unions,  medical marijuana,  and abortion,  some of Wallis’ measures seemed at home in liberal California or even Canada,  but when it came to horse slaughter she was every bit the radical zealot. While Wallis also focused on rather obscure and sometimes irrational food laws, Mader epitomizes extremist and intolerant rhetoric – he runs a gun empire and chooses to spend his time targeting the EPA whilst promoting a “biblical” and very anthropocentric stance towards animals.  And he’s on record for being anti-choice and a supporter for horse slaughter too. “I stood with her wholeheartedly on that,” Mader said.

So Wyoming has basically substituted a cowboy poetess who wanted to enrich her pocketbook with horse slaughter, with a bible-thumping opportunist who has preached some dangerous rhetoric, coupled with a history of lobbying to prevent laws that might curtail the profits for his gun company. Seems like Wyoming politics have their own brand of influence peddling.

Although Mader’s Linkedin profile is here,  and somewhat at odds with his Zoominfo profile.  He went to college for a year Troy Mader Zoom Infoand a half at Grand Canyon University, then went on to found the Common Man Institute in Gillette Wyoming.  The Common Man is touted as a private research group that apparently publishes no research,  yet they are a right-wing group of outfitters, timber companies, livestock producers and off-road-vehicle owners who have more than a passing resemblance to a Rick Berman enterprise.   Two issues do appear to have been generated out of this nebulous group – The theme that wolves are demonic and have no place in the United States, and that AIDS is a disease imposed on those who have “filthy sex.”  They don’t appear to have published anything after this crackpot rhetoric from the 80s either.

In fact, Mader appears to be the author of numerous out-of-print books(lets) that reflect his anti-science view towards wolves, as well as a very homophobic collection of quotes from various other individuals on AIDS. The journalist site WyPols have dredged up a dog-eared copy of his mess of a book The Death Sentence of AIDS.”and are publishing chapters of his book to let their readers make up their own minds as to how homophobic this untethered bulldog really is. The site plans to post chapters of Mader’s book over the next few days and weeks,  so if you have a morbid curiosity,  please check it out on their site.  In case you’re wondering what his qualifications are in order that he write on the subject of AIDS, well, it appears that he has none other than a rabid dislike of gay men.

“Gays get AIDS because they are profoundly promiscuous, highly mobile, and practice filthy sex.”

The Death Sentence of AIDS

Wholly deserving of a book-burning party.  Out-of-Print. Permanently

I find it difficult to imagine why anyone in Wyoming would be opposed to anti-discrimination laws in a state that, at least to gay rights activists, will long be remembered as the place where Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was killed in a 1998 attack that was motivated in part by his sexual orientation. If only to somewhat make up for the torture that was inflicted upon Matt Shepard there should be not a politician in Wyoming opposed to equal rights for all its citizens.

After his erstwhile stint as a book author, Mader went on to become a former precinct committeeman in the local Republican party. He is also a rancher, former sheriff’s deputy, musician,  and trapper (IMO the most cruel way possible to kill an animal). At some point during this era he went on to become director of deceptively named Abundant Wildlife Society and founder of the Knight Muzzleloading Rifle Company.  Check out the Facebook page for Knight Rifles, if you’re keen on seeing a bunch of 7 year-olds with rifles displaying the small, defenceless animals they have shot.

The Abundant Wildlife Society is an organization that has “greenwashed” itself to appear to be a conservation group, and like the Canadian Wildlife Federation, it doesn’t Troy Maderactually care about wildlife except to preserve them for hunting activities.  It’s a special interest group that doesn’t benefit anyone except hunters.  At its core it is a property-rights group that has established a web presence to oppose animal welfare groups, scientific organizations, and oppose the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which Mader claims has become a classic example of the law of unintended consequences.  Sue Wallis liked to preach about the “unintended consequences” of the cessation of horse slaughter in the US too.  As director, Mader methodically faulted wolf reintroduction at every opportunity. He claimed that wolf restoration efforts were motivated mainly by romantics who dreamt of hearing wolves howl in the night.

His words appealed to hobby ranchers who saw wolves as more predators for their livestock. During a visit to Oklahoma City for a Safari Club function, he made it plain that anyone who hunts should share his concern. He wants to hunt in Yellowstone, where hunting is not permitted.  Pity the poor animals who don’t know they’ve left the boundaries of Yellowstone, where it’s open season on them in the surrounding national forests of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

“…..the Endangered Species Act has become a most effective tool in the hands of the preservationist and those intent on destroying the livelihoods of millions of Americans.”

wound

“The benefit of multiple wound channels….” Benefit for whom?  Surely not the animal on the receiving end of this onslaught.

While many farmers and ranchers justifiably fear them, wolves are actually the engines of evolution, helping trim the gene pool in prey species, including deer and elk, which sport hunting does not do.

The now defunct National Center for Public Policy Research claims that Troy Mader is an “scientist and  expert” in conservation and endangered species, the Endangered Species Act, wolf recovery, and the “philosophical aspects of conservation versus environmentalism,”  which again seems odd to me since there is no substantiated evidence of him having any sort of qualifications that would preclude such a title.

Don’t bother emailing them, their email is as non-existent as Mader’s scientific credentials.

“Where you have a healthy wolf population you have no room for hunting.”

Mader also appears in the documentary film “Crying Wolf,” in which we see the Christian concept of taking dominion over animals (Genesis 1:28) using the earth and its resources for the needs of man and to the glory of God.  Anthropocentrism such as hunters and some others espouse, has been posited by many environmentalists as the underlying reason why humanity dominates and sees the need to “develop” most of the Earth.  Anthropocentrism is a root cause of the ecological crisis, human overpopulation, and the extinctions of many non-human species.

“If you study one thing in the bible, man has dominion……”

Clearly, his motivation in all these schemes is to lobby to protect hunting, while disavowing equality for other groups. Mader does not care about animals, only that any restrictions on hunting will hurt his company’s profits. So Wyoming now finds itself with another politician who appears to have no problem advancing laws that would line their own pocket – this time at the expense of a different species of animal.  He probably cares little about women’s reproductive rights either, which is why he proudly asserts that this is another topic on which he disagrees with his predecessor.

Full Monty or Foolhardy?

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larry_the_cable_guy_health_inspector_xlgWritten By:  Heather Clemenceau

First of all, let me give a hat tip to Denise, for finding this article.  You gotta wonder what kind of Google Alerts she has set up for this……

It seems that a CFIA inspector-by-day has become the “superman of community theatre” by night, working in the St. Jacobs community near Waterloo Ontario.  Graham Duench is a CFIA inspector who enjoys community theatre not for the money,  but for the passion.  Fair enough.  To add to that passion, he’s about to reveal a whole new side of himself that, until now,  has remained buried under his strict devotion to justice for animals and duty to maintaining the high standards of the Canadian agriculture industry.

Graham is about to add “stripper” to his resumé. He won’t however, reveal exactly how exposed he’s going to be in the upcoming K-W Musical Productions’ The Full Monty — The Musical, which opens at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse on February 13, 2014,  running through to the 22nd.

The Full Monty — The Musical is based on the 1997 British film The Full Monty, where the protagonist and his misfit buddies decide the only way to make some quick money is stage a Chippendale’s type male strip show.

Talk about moonlighting. I realize that it’s not like he’s moonlighting as a male escort or entertaining at bachelorette parties, but you’ve got to wonder why someone who has a “professional” position with the government would want to risk that by taking on an evening job with nudity and lots of sexual innuendo.

It’s not exactly Masterpiece Theatre.Donna+Summer+-+Hot+Stuff+-+Red+Vinyl+-+12'+RECORD_MAXI+SINGLE-26348

Ironically, the playhouse is about 7km down the street from the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX),  where from time to time,  CFIA inspectors can be found measuring the height of trailers over a horse’s withers,  and checking to see whether kill buyers have loaded their trailers with shod horses.  But more often than not, horses get transported in double-decker trailers under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s nose and with their blessing.

But the potential for conflict of interest gets interesting.

Mercedes Corp., is a property management company that developed a number of tourism attractions in the village of St. Jacobs,  including the playhouse. The company also owns the St. Jacobs Farmers Market, Waterlive showloo Farmers Market, The  Ontario Livestock Exchange and St. Jacobs stockyards as well as seven other rental and retail properties in the village. That’s right – the same firm that owns the playhouse where Graham Duench is performing (albeit short term) also owns the very places that the CFIA is inspecting for compliance under the Health of Animals Regulations  The same places that Animals’ Angels has also inspected in the past and found issues not only with OLEX but other Ontario auctions under the jurisdiction of the CFIA – problems that seem obvious to everyone except the people employed at the auctions.

Mercedes Corp. also owns retirement homes in the region and several other towns.  Seriously, who the hell in their right mind would want to retire or place a family member at a facility that also owns livestock markets that supply slaughterhouses? The gross-out factor is just unavoidable.

I’m not sure that anything embarrasses the CFIA anymore.  Certainly,  it doesn’t seem to faze them when they’re caught “pants down” in a bare-faced lie.  I’m wondering if we’re approaching the wrong people at the CFIA?  Maybe we’d get better results if we paid $35 bucks to get a seat at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, and then rolled out a large protest sign requesting CFIA response to our outstanding issues?

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before: 52 Thoroughbreds Need Homes….

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52 thoroughbredsWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Some people view Facebook as little more than a communication tool for keeping in touch with friends and family. But people on Facebook can really make things happen. In fact, we’ve probably rescued the same 52 thoroughbreds multiple times over.  Most horse friends have seen the original message,which was posted to Facebook for the first time in February 2011.  The claims in the message were true, but according to credible reports on both Facebook (by the woman who placed them) and several horse related forums, all 52 of the horses were rehomed, with most going to family friends of the deceased owner.

Lynn Boggs was the caring woman who originally posted the message on Facebook to find homes for the horses, who were displaced after her friend Daniel Stearns, DVM, died on Jan. 27, 2011. Sterns was a longtime fixture in the Thoroughbred racing community, having worked as a track veterinarian before founding the Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders & Owners. He also served as president of Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protection Association and was an active Thoroughbred breeder at the time of his death. According to his son, the Dr. had been breeding and racing Thoroughbreds since 1950. He was also for a long time the oldest living owner racing horses at Thistledown Racetrack in Cleveland.

original appeal for 52 thoroughbredsThe message Lynn posted on Facebook gained international attention within hours, and all of the horses were placed in new homes within five days. Other social networks, horse boards, and pet forums picked up the urgent request, which noted that all the horses would be sent to Sugarcreek auction if homes were not found for them.  The message asked recipients to call one of the listed phone numbers if they could help.  Boggs even had a posting on Mike Smith’s (Zenyatta’s jockey) Facebook page. The effort of Boggs deserves much credit, as apparently there were originally more than 100 horses in need of a home after the passing of Dr. Stearn, upon whose farm they roamed. Boggs really was the driving force behind spreading the word of his horses.

The horses went to several new homes, some in groups and others one or two at a time.  There’s also rumours about where they went, including Frog Pond Farm Drafts, Canter (apparently not true) and Drafty Barn Rescues, which no longer seems to have an internet presence.  But two horses went to live with Eventing Nation’s Jackie Smith, of Ohio, who writes about their adventures from the horses’ perspective on her blog.

Long after the horses were rehomed, a second variation of the message began circulating. The new version falsely claimed that the horses were located in Scotland and listed different contact details.  Apparently some other messages were crafted to trap callers into calling long distance numbers and racking up huge bills. I saw the posting pop up a few times last year,  and now in February 2014 the original plea is still circulating!  And like other rumours, it may circulate for years.

It’s not that we’re gullible people, but this story circulates because it feeds our anxieties and emotions.  Most of us get pretty anxious when we hear about the possibility of entire herds of horses going, within mere days, to an auction where there are kill buyers, especially when someone (the Dr.’s son) doesn’t seem to possess the patience to allow new homes to be vetted in a reasonable amount of time. But lots of emails and pleas slip under my mental defences too – I’ve had to pause and re-read several phishing messages I’ve received, because they can be quite convincing.  I lost a friend because I asked her to stop emailing me with urReal-Life My Little Ponyban legends about stuff such as needles attached to gas pumps and Proctor and Gamble’s ties to the Church of Satan.  I’m also pretty sure that Liz Claiborne also didn’t tell Oprah that black women shouldn’t wear her clothes either.  When hurricane Katrina hit, I remember various stories being told that couldn’t possibly be true, such as sharks coming ashore and attacking people.  FEMA doctors even showed up at the Superdome with a refrigerated 18-wheeler to cart away hundreds of bodies that were alleged to be dead after the Mayor spread a rumour about armed gangs seizing control of the Superdome (or at least, that’s what I’ve heard).

The original plea circulated beyond anyone’s wildest dreams – people from the EU have called Boggs, as did a Hopi Indian from North Dakota.  Can you imagine getting 4,000 phone calls,  at any hour, along with a few hundred text messages – in the course of days? Now imagine trying to screen people so that you could prevent horses from being sent to slaughter? And apparently she is still getting calls!  Boggs said she was overwhelmed with the support she got, so she encouraged the people who weren’t able to take one of the 52 to find another horse to adopt:

I’m getting 1,200 calls a day and there’s a horse out there that needs to be rescued. There should not be a horse in the U.S. that would need to be rescued or die of starvation or go to the killers if everyone just stepped up like they did for these horses. … Even if it’s not one of these horses, unwanted horses are all over the Internet.” 

Apparently, whenever this starts to re-circulate, Lynn has trouble using her phone.  I think I would have gotten a new number by now!

Lynn also created a page on Facebook page to let everyone know that the horses had been placed:

DR STEARNS HORSES
by Lynn Boggs on Monday, January 31, 2011 at 9:40pm

“UPDATE to everyone of my friend new and old, to all those that helped me in any way they could,wether you adopted to refered people or offered services. Typeing this is soo hard for me because an era has ended. Harmony hills farm is no more. i am proud that its legacy did not go down with these beautiful horses going to slaughter. thanks to all of YOU all horses are now adopted. Bless ALL of you for helping me!!!! Please everyone say a prayer that these horses are with loving people.”

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Bill C-571 – Between a Wedge and a Hard Place

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Art by Jody Bergsman - www.bergsma.com

Art by Jody Bergsma – http://www.bergsma.com

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

It’s no secret that anti-slaughter advocates are disappointed to hear that Bill C-322 does not have support in the House, nor did it have support at NDP caucus meetings.  In addition, the new Safe Food for Canadians Act contains some wording that would not have been compatible with Bill C-322 moving forward.

The reality is that few Private Member Bills make their way up the ladder to become law.  We are so fortunate that MP Alex Atamanenko chose this Bill to present to the House,  but to have seen it fail would mean that we would have no hope that, in the foreseeable future, any MP would have picked up the cause.  Alex Atamanenko is retiring in 2015, and at this time we have no other MP who has given us this much support to enact legislation to end horse slaughter.

Our many friends and allies who wrote to their MPs can attest to the fact that Conservatives (who hold the majority of seats in Parliament) did not stand in support of the Bill.  So at the 11th hour, as we all know,  Alex and his staff drafted a new Bill that was more likely to succeed in the House,  yet it included concessions to the industry that no one wanted to see.  The Bill does not allow anyone to send or convey from one province to another, or import or export (a) a horse or other equine for slaughter for human consumption; or (b) horsemeat products – or meat products derived from any other equine – for human consumption.”

The biggest concession was that it allowed for the production of “meat” horses.  From the Bill: In addition to the other requirements of this Act and the Regulations made under this Act, no person shall send to a registered establishment a horse or other equine for slaughter for human consumption unless the horse or other equine was raised primarily for human consumption and unless they submit to the operator of the registered establishment a medical record for that horse or other equine that contains its standardized description and a complete lifetime record, in chronological order, of the medical treatments it has received.”

MP Alex Atamanenko states, We do not have a system that has stringent regulations right now, and in the name of food safety, the bill fits in with the new Safe Food for Canadians Act. It is an expansion of Bill C-322. It conforms with trade regulations and it tightens up the whole aspect of food safety.  I would urge all members of the House to support the bill, especially all of those hundreds of thousands of people who supported Bill C-322.”

With enactment of the new Bill C-571, horses would continue to cross the border but would NOT enter slaughter plants unless they have a vet-signed passport to accompany them.  How many horses coming across the border would have such passports with them, if they’re coming for slaughter from the U.S.?  Probably very few.  There’s always the possibility of fraud, and that’s why the humane groups would continue to remain watchful in the field.

Privately, this development is hugely disappointing to so many of us, especially those who lobbied for support of Bill C-322 and collected so many signatures.  But there are still reasons to support it publicly. Because the

A log splitter is a "wedge" that ultimately fractures or splits the log apart.

A log splitter is a “wedge” that ultimately fractures or splits the log apart.

effect of the Bill would have a negative effect on the economies of scale of the Canadian slaughter plants (by preventing privately owned pet and riding horses from entering the slaughter stream),  it serves to act as a “wedge” that can be used to enact further restrictions on the horse slaughter industry.  The “wedge” is a strategy most famously used as a manifesto by  Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. You’re probably wondering what intelligent design has to do with horse slaughter, and the answer is “nothing.” But the wedge strategy as used by Bill C-571 is a political and social action plan meant to sway public policy makers and ultimately make slaughter for 90% of all horses totally unfeasible, essentially putting kill buyers out of action.  So while privately we have great difficulty with the Bill,  many of us can find a way to support it politically.

The Bill might be more palatable once we understand that not all animal protection initiatives launched by Canadian organizations have protected all species across the country either.  Despite the work done by WSPA, Animal Alliance, Humane Society International, Mercy for Animals, and others, most results are made incrementally by lobbying. For example, some groups have achieved hunting or trapping bans in various municipalities but not others. Sometimes protecting animals in shelters has begun with a ban on the sale of lost pets for experimentation, but only in a select number of provinces.  While protecting some animals, these actions don’t save all the pets, but it’s another example of a wedge that can be used to advance legislation in other provinces.  How long have ethical people all over the world lobbied against the Canadian seal hunt?  A recent campaign resulted in the European Union implementing a European-wide ban that began in 2010.  And the boycott of Canadian seafood will continue until the Canadian government ends the commercial seal hunt. If you can shut down trade in bear galls by 50% by making concessions, is it better to do that than to make no concessions and achieve nothing?  It takes a long time to get bans on spring bear hunts in Ontario,  and they often aren’t permanent bans either – groups must continue to lobby for them. In many ways the new Bill C-571 can be viewed in the same manner.

Art by Jody Bergsma - www.bergsma.com

Art by Jody Bergsma – http://www.bergsma.com

Recently, the Canadian government announced a new program, seeded with $450,000, to “support animal welfare at slaughter.”  Of course this is also an ethical dilemma for many people, especially since it appears that horse slaughterhouses may be able to qualify for funding to better “restrain animals at slaughter.”  This program suggests that slaughterhouses already aren’t doing their jobs correctly or overseeing the slaughter process as well as they should. And improvement or not, perhaps this is an example of tossing money at a situation that cannot be made humane and should just be stopped outright  Only the reader can judge as to whether “improving restraint for slaughter” is ethical.  But it demonstrates that they are feeling the pressure.

It is easier (but not easy, as our American counterparts can attest) to keep an industry from restarting than it is to close an industry that has full government support.  The Americans are somewhat fortunate in that there are at least a greater number of individuals and groups that can impact legislation more easily than can Canadians.  Sadly, the Conservative Canadian government is a government that is beholden to big business, and one that makes every attempt to shape public policy to that end. It is a government that is more interested in keeping its corporate masters happy than in protecting animals or the food chain.

Myths, Half-Truths, and Lies of the Commercial Carriage Horse Industry

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

In 2007, Bill Thompson, then New York City Comptroller, announced the findings of an audit that cited numerous problems in the carriage horse industry. That same year, Queens councilman Tony Avella introduced a Bill to abolish the carriages outright. Several years later the carriage-horse industry and some of its opponents got together and hammered out a Bill raising carriage fares and mandating larger stable stalls and the five-week vacation for horses. It now became law that the working horses must fall between five and 26 years old, and they have been banned from traversing certain streets and from working from 3 and 7 a.m. But now, the carriage industry, long the subject of controversy, seems poised to end. The deaths and injuries of the horses has prompted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, to vow to eliminate them completely as part of his campaign promise.

City carriages are romantic

Dense traffic and on a phone

Many people feel that the carriages themselves are at odds with the dense traffic and sounds of the city.  Horses and cars do not mix well and when there is a collision it is always the horse (and passengers) who will be worse off for it.  The carriage trade likes to represent that there have been only three horse deaths due to vehicular traffic since 1985, but there is documentation for many more accidents even in the last few years.  In addition,  several horses died of heatstroke,  and one horse died crashing into a tree,  but the industry typically excludes these from their “death count” because they don’t consider them “traffic related.”  But if a carriage horse dies while in harness and put to a carriage – it is indeed a carriage industry death,  and to parlay it otherwise is just obfuscation on the part of the industry.  There is no law requiring the ASPCA to release the details of carriage accidents and therefore it is impossible to know how many have occurred that have not been directly witnessed or documented by animal advocates such as those working with The Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn CarriagesNYCLASS,  and others.

Since the carriage industry has resisted reform in the past and insists on churning out falsehoods and half-truths, they’re fair game for some myth-busting. Disconcertingly, a small minority of industry supporters are also prepared to malign and harass horsepeople who dare to disagree with their stance.  There seems to be an unwritten rule that carriage drivers in particular MUST support this industry no matter what infractions are observed.  Anti-slaughter proponents will be dismayed to note that the industry, represented by the Teamsters union, have aligned themselves with a few characters from the United Horsemen’s group as well as the anti-animal puppymill promoters and horse-soring defenders, the Cavalry Group.  Working with a group that generally opposes any type of minimal animal protection as a rule will have animal lovers reject your position outright and fail to give you any support whatsoever.

I’ve always had a interest in debunking false lore and hoaxes.  Usually I’ve spent my time debunking pseudo science, near-death experiences, and alien abductions, but the same flaws in thinking/rationalizing that lead to those belief systems can be found elsewhere.  And the carriage horse proponents don’t disappoint!  They continue to be dogmatic in their approach and persist in their beliefs even after shown evidence to the contrary.

1.  Will Bill S5013-2011 Permit the Seizure of the Privately Owned Carriage Horses?

Carriage horse rear

This has the potential to become a bolt by the carriage horse.

Making it so that you cannot operate a carriage in NYC is not seizing your property.  The Bill does not require that horses be sold or donated, but the Bill does define the circumstances under which sale or disposal or the horse shall be deemed humane.  While it does attempt to control what happens to the horses IF they are sold, it does not compel  them to be sold.  The Bill attempts to restrict the sale or donation of a horse to persons or groups who will keep them as “companion” animals and not “work horses,” obviously, in an attempt to keep them from being slaughtered.  It doesn’t seem to bother the fanatical carriage supporters that their new friends in the pro-slaughter Cavalry Group,  who are now handling some questionable public relations for them, would put all their horses in an express lane to the slaughter plants either.

Elsewhere in the Bill the definition of “work horse” is given as one who is presented for paid work as a carriage horse.  “Companion animal” is not defined in the Bill, but there is no restriction given on using the horse personally as a riding or driving horse.  Most animal advocates would understand that a “companion animal” is a horse that is a pet and not considered livestock;  a great many of us will describe our riding horses as companion animals.  There is also a legal definition that describes such an animal as “an animal that serves as a domestic pet,” but goes on to provide examples in case law that may include or exclude horses,  depending on the evidence of the relationship between the animal and its owner.  In any case, there is no need to perpetuate the hue and cry that the carriage horses will be seized,  but it is worth noting that the whole Bill is open to challenge on several issues and is unenforceable outside of New York State.  Although the Bill states that horses would not be “employable” as carriage horses,  I don’t see why a carriage horse could not be subsequently employed as a livery horse outside of high-density city.

Here’s the contentious passages in the Bill:

“B. A horse shall not be  sold  or  disposed  of  except  in  a  humane
manner,  WHICH, FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SUBCHAPTER SHALL MEAN ONE OF
THE FOLLOWING:
  1. THE OWNER SHALL SELL OR DONATE THE HORSE TO  A  PRIVATE  INDIVIDUAL
WHO SIGNS AN ASSURANCE THAT THE HORSE WILL NOT BE SOLD AND SHALL BE KEPT
SOLELY  AS  A  COMPANION  ANIMAL AND NOT EMPLOYED IN ANOTHER HORSE-DRAWN
CARRIAGE BUSINESS OR AS A WORK HORSE AND WILL BE CARED FOR HUMANELY  FOR
THE REMAINDER OF THE HORSE'S NATURAL LIFE; OR
  2.  THE  OWNER  SHALL  SELL OR DONATE THE HORSE TO A DULY INCORPORATED
ANIMAL SANCTUARY OR DULY  INCORPORATED  ANIMAL  PROTECTION  ORGANIZATION
WHOSE  PRESIDENT OR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SIGNS AN ASSURANCE THAT THE HORSE
WILL NOT BE SOLD AND SHALL BE KEPT SOLELY AS A COMPANION ANIMAL AND  NOT
EMPLOYED IN ANOTHER HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE BUSINESS OR AS A WORK HORSE AND
WILL  BE  CARED  FOR  HUMANELY  FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE HORSE'S NATURAL
LIFE.
  3. RECORDS INDICATING THE NAME, ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE  NUMBER  OF  THE
PRIVATE  INDIVIDUAL, DULY INCORPORATED ANIMAL SANCTUARY OR DULY INCORPO-
RATED ANIMAL PROTECTION ORGANIZATION TO  WHOM  THE  HORSE  WAS  SOLD  OR
DONATED TOGETHER WITH THE ASSURANCE SPECIFIED ABOVE SHALL BE SENT BY THE
OWNER  TO THE DEPARTMENT WITHIN FIVE DAYS AFTER SUCH SALE OR DONATION. A
COPY OF SUCH RECORD SHALL ALSO BE MAINTAINED AT THE STABLE.”

2.  Quoting Celebrities Does Not Give One’s Point More Authority

Oreo's acident in NYC - here he has been tranq'd

OREO’s accident in NYC – here he has been tranq’d.

Quite a few celebs have stepped forward to either condemn or praise the NYC carriage horse industry.  Neither side is particularly compelling in my opinion, at least, no more so that the average person.  The carriage supporters all loathe celebs such as  Pamela Anderson,  Lea Michele, Kathy Najimy,  and Alex Baldwin,  but they’ve really embraced Liam Neeson, who apparently counts several carriage drivers among his close personal friends.  “They’ll die, you know, darlin,’ The horses are incredibly well-treated. They’re regulated up the wazoo. They get five weeks’ holiday every year.  Tourists love them.”   Along with former Mayor Bloomberg, Neeson also perpetuates the opinion that they’ll all be slaughtered too, and it’ll be the fault of meddling big city liberals,  according to him.  Well if that were to happen, responsibility for that action would have to lie with the owners of the horses and nobody else.

Of all the celebs peripherally involved in the carriage trade, few are more hypocritical than Neeson. I’m calling out Neeson as a hypocrite since he ate the meat of a trapped wolf  to get in character for a role in the movie “The Grey” and then tried to fearmonger about horse slaughter.  If anything,  maybe he should become an anti-trapping spokesperson?  I didn’t realize that actors had to directly experience something like this to be considered a true method actor.  If he needed help to channel his rage for the movie, somebody should have suggested that he stick his hand in the trap instead.   Eating trapped animals, especially for something as trifling as a movie role is not cool.

And since he’s Irish, I hope he also concerned about the fate of horses in Ireland and elsewhere in Great Britain, where it’s popular to race horses on the M4 highways and evade the garda (police),  often crashing the horses and abandoning them, injured.  What about the huge problems with fly-grazing, where horses are illegally grazed on private property without the knowledge or consent of the owners of the property?  Indeed, Ireland has a huge crisis of horses, with up to 20,000 of the animals currently needing immediate intervention by authorities for abuse and cruelty.  But the next time he’s in town and hanging with his buddies on 59th street, perhaps he can get in-character by eating some oats that have been spilled out into the street amongst the pigeon droppings, just for authenticity’s sake of course.

3.  Is the NYC Carriage Trade Really a 155+ Year-Old Historic Occupation Built by Working Class Heroes?

Disclaimer:  The video below is NSFW (Not Safe for Work – due to language. Well,  it may be SFW if you work in an office where the “eff”word gets spit out more than any other word (examples: Bill O’Reilly’s office, Alec Baldwin’s office,  etc…)) Otherwise it’s headphones material. And we should be clear – it is not a criticism of the Irish or of immigrants in general.  I don’t know what if anything preceded it,  but it is not exactly characteristic of the pastoral charm that tourists envision when they think of Central Park and carriage horses.

But over 100 years ago, everyone was driving a horse and carriage in New York.  By the twenties, the horse-drawn carriage had been almost entirely replaced by the automobile.  So the current industry can hardly say that they harken back to those days,  since the current medallion ownership/licensing scheme is much more recent.  It’s rather analogous to saying that the airline industry is 87 years old as a result of Charles Lindbergh’s  flight from New York to Paris in 1927.  While it’s true that many of the carriage drivers (who are employed by the 68 medallion holders) who drive approximately 220 horses could probably be described as “working class,” the business operators in their primarily cash based business (no one knows exactly how much the industry contributes to NYC tax revenue) are hardly in that category.  They own the stables in which the horses reside in NYC and in my opinion, are living quite well. Several of them own more than one lucrative medallion.

It’s unclear what a medallion (license to operate a carriage business in NYC) is actually worth in present value terms. Some drivers said they paid $30,000 for their medallions 25 years ago. So obviously they are worth a considerable sum of money, given what the average income must be for the 68 medallion holders bringing in an estimated $15-$19 million dollars to the economy – an amount that has been corroborated by the Communications Liaison for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York City.  Therefore, to determine how “working class” the industry is as a whole, a little arithmetic can be applied as follows:

$15,000,000/68 medallions = average gross income of $220,588 per medallion owner (low-balling the industry estimate)

$19,000,000/68 medallions = average gross income of $279,412 per medallion owner (applying the upper limit of the estimate)

Not holding onto the reins while getting out of carriage

Getting in and out of a carriage and hitching the horse to the carriage are the most dangerous times. At least hold onto the “reins” – don’t let them fall onto the wheels either. And don’t let passengers get in the carriage when you don’t actually have control of the horse and are not in the box seat!

That’s per medallion,  so if someone or a corporation owns more than one or half a medallion,  the calculations can be adjusted accordingly.  As a comparison,  the NYC tourism industry as a whole, in 2011, brought in about 34.5 billion dollars  Therefore, statements made in some of the glowing pro-carriage trade articles to the effect that the carriages are the main tourist attraction in NYC would seem to be unsupported.

So, in my opinion, the medallion owners, some of whom appear to be corporations or don’t even reside in the US,  are doing very well for themselves and their incomes are hardly typical of what we would consider “working class.”  I’m hardly opposed to any entrepreneur who can earn a comfortable living, but let’s be honest at least about what a “working class” income really is and what it is not.  The medallion owners are contractors or licensees,  and not actual employees of the city.

4.  How Restorative is the Mandated Five Weeks Vacation for NYC Carriage Horses?

There are many reasons why,  in my opinion, this mandated “vacation” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Especially if it isn’t actually a holiday if horses are  sent to Amish country for their R&R,  where they are, unbeknownst to the average person,  used as work horses on farms they are loaned to.

Many drafts and draft-crosses, the breeds typically used by the carriage trade, have some heritable muscle problems, such as equine polysaccharide storage myopathy (EPSM),  which has been confirmed or suspected in virtually every draft horse breed, draft cross-bred,  and draft mule.  The disease is responsible for severe muscle wasting and weakness, causing poor performance and abnormal hind limb gaits.  Afflicted horses benefit more greatly from daily turnout and structured breaks at regular intervals, and not all at once.  If they are furloughed, it also becomes more difficult to treat them for this condition as well, and they may tie-up when they come back to work.  Also, since the vast majority of furloughed horses go to New Jersey and Pennsylvania or upstate NY – disease control may not be optimal when they come back. Also consider that these horses have no grass during the majority of the year – transferring them suddenly to any sort of pasture and onto grass that they are not used to eating can have serious consequences such as colic or laminitis.

This study suggests that pastured horses maintained a similar level of fitness as stalled horses after 14 weeks.  However, the research, by Dr. Patty Graham-Thiers of Virginia Intermont College, involved comparing two groups of horses to horses turned out on a hilly 100 acre pasture.  It could be relevant if the carriage horses were turned out on similar circumstances and property and not standing in small paddocks or sent to work on Amish farms, as has often been cited.  And the study doesn’t exactly support ASPCA Veterinarian Dr. Corey’s comments about furloughing horses, as she has said that when the horses return from furlough, they often look worse than when they first went on vacation – “We have observed some horses returning to New York City after furloughs on a farm in worse condition than when they left.”  If the study concludes that these pastured horses were able to maintain a similar level of fitness as the stalled, exercised horses, in addition to having greater bone mineral content at the end of the study, then why do the carriage horses tend to look worse, in the words of Dr. Corey?  How are they maintained on the “holiday” paddocks?  Or are the draft crosses tendency to have metabolic issues not being addressed?  Or are the paddocks not large enough to facilitate the exercise that was observed in the study? Lots of questions with no answers,  as the horses aren’t monitored while away from the City.

THECAVALRYGROUPimage003-1

5.  How Can an Association With the Cavalry Group Be a Good Thing?

Think “Waterloo” and immediately the phrase,  “catastrophic failure” comes to mind…… On its website, the extreme right-wing Cavalry Group declares that animal rights “extremists” are working to advance a “vegan agenda.”  They have opposed several “animal rights” measures around the U.S., including a ballot question in Missouri to crack down on puppymills and a referendum in North Dakota that would make it a felony to maliciously and intentionally harm dogs, cats or horses. They also oppose the SAFE Act to stop sending American horses to be slaughtered, and they have resisted anti-soring legislation for Big Lick horses, and they resist pretty much any and all efforts to upgrade anti-cruelty laws.  It should come as no surprise that The Cavalry Group is based in Missouri which has the worst puppy mills in the nation. Even the Better Business Bureau refers to Missouri as the “capital of puppy mills in the US.”  Any group that aligns themselves with people who find Big Lick soring in any way acceptable and who mount a charge to OPPOSE the passage of this Bill deserve failure. Here’s a list of what they oppose.

Anti-animal Cavalry Group tweetstorm

Cavalry Group Tweetstorm – where the NYC carriage industry gets infused with Teaparty insanity.

Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States, added, “It’s a very bad selection by the carriage horse drivers to associate with a group of zealots that oppose the most basic animal welfare standards.”  Utilizing an anti-animal lobbying group shows that they are not the animal lovers that they claim to be and are more interested in promoting the status quo.

The Cavalry group made a laughing stock out of itself the last time it went up to Washington to lobby against HR 1418S  In their “USDA Approved” campaign to resist legislation against horse soring. The Cavalry Group saddled up and put a Big Lick horse, Mr. Heisman, on its poster, and proudly proclaimed he was “USDA APPROVED.” Mr. Heisman is trained by Brandye Mills and he is owned by Randall Baskin. It just so happens that Brandye Mills and owner Randall Baskin have HPA violations! Trainer Mills has been cited numerous times for “foreign substances, scars, unilateral sores, low chains,” etc. on multiple animals.  Violation of the Horse Protection Act is already a crime, so Mills and Baskin are anything but USDA approved.

Just as stupid is the carriage horse association with the various cast-offs from United Horsemen, who live even further away from NYC than I do – several of them parroted false information about colicking Salt Lake City carriage horse Jerry, whose illness and death was concealed for several days/weeks,  unbeknownst to those who personally attested to him being alive,  days after he had died.  This just goes to show that you can’t expect members of the pro-slaughter group United Horsemen to have knowledge of anything that requires them to READ.  If you’re still not sure that the Cavalry Group is anti-animal, check out these ridiculous tweets,  compiled by Buzzfeed and made during their “Tweet Storm” campaign.

6.  Is the Stabling for the NYC Carriage Horses as Adequate as We’ve Been Told?

West Side Livery BEFORE renovation and Clip Clop NYC

West Side Livery BEFORE renovation and Clip Clop NYC

These are NOT pets of the carriage operators – they are tools of a business. By law their stalls must be a minimum of 64 square feet, which is pretty small by most people’s standards unless you own a pony or a couple of minis.  The horses do manage to lie down though, not that they have much room to spare.  But the smaller the stall the greater the risk of getting cast in the stall too.  Prior to conversion,  the West Side Livery stables had standing stalls that made it difficult,  albeit not impossible,  for horses to lie down.  While photographs of the Clinton stables reveal that the operators are very good at managing small spaces,  I don’t believe any of the buildings have sufficiently large enough stalls for these larger breeds of horses.

7.  Are the NYC Carriage Horses Really  “The Most Regulated Horses in the Country, if Not The World?”

This is the same facile argument that pro-slaughter use to justify the continuation of the slaughter industry.  Regulations on the books mean nothing if they are largely unenforced.  Anti-cruelty regulations provide few safeguards for horses, and many humane authorities just don’t have the resources or the time to monitor the carriages in order to ensure that horses are not being overworked and that operators are following regulations.

Furthermore the ASPCA has recently dismantled its Humane Law Enforcement Division in NYC.  Over the past few years, the ASPCA’s humane law enforcement division has handled about 4,000 investigations annually and made about one arrest per week (for all species of animal).  The agents wore uniforms, flashed badges, carried guns, traveled in blue-and-white squad cars, and for years starred in “Animal Precinct,” but now the ASPCA has laid off almost all of its 18 law enforcement agents and is now leaving those responsibilities solely to the New York City Police Department.  Without a team focused on animal abuse, enforcement will almost certainly be given a lower priority by officers dealing with the full spectrum of human crimes.

Horse needs help to riseSince the ASPCA is not obligated to share information about the general health and well-being of the carriage horses in New York, we really have no idea how healthy they are, or are not.  And yet it was not the Teamsters Union, nor the carriage people, or even the ASPCA who spotted a lame horse driven by Saverio Colarusso, but the police, who ultimately charged him with cruelty to animals.  Apparently the horse, who had thrush, had been driven for several days before being spotted struggling.  Now, it’s difficult to keep a horse’s stall entirely dry at the best of times, but thrush is predisposed by moist, damp, dirty stable conditions. But it is treated by scrubbing with anti-fungal/antiseptic and by moving the animal to a DRY stall.  Whoever was cleaning the horse’s feet should have been alerted to the condition by the smell and/or discharge, which makes me wonder how often they all get their feet picked out and how mucky the stalls are.  Several photographs, of the West Side livery in particular, don’t show much of a base of shavings that would absorb a lot of urine.

It’s also not the first time Mr. Colarusso has gotten in trouble either. In 2010, he was charged with drinking while on duty after being spotted with a beer while standing next to his carriage (I guess we should be gratified that a driver was actually standing near their carriage though). Two other bottles of liquor were found inside the carriage. He has also been fined for driving his horse through city streets at unauthorized times, failing to keep a daily log and not turning on the lamps on the side of his carriage after dark.  The urban carriage people sure don’t like to talk about Mr. Colarusso,  because now the fact that he’s been charged is a huge problem for them – they can’t exactly tout that no one in the industry has ever been charged with abuse!  But it was correct procedure to suspend him,  since the horses and tourists both deserve to be driven about by someone who is not likely intoxicated.

What’s also odd is that  Colarusso was arrested by for animal cruelty not by the ASPCA,  but by the police.  It seems probable then that the ASPCA went  easy on the drivers in the past because they had the “protection” of Bloomberg, who is now gone.  Therefore,  it’s not necessarily true that the industry is upholding any great standard,  only that some individuals have never been caught.

Horse looks ready to bite driver

8.  Will a Ban On City Carriage Horses Mean That There Will Ultimately be a Ban on all Privately-Owned Horses?

A classic slippery slope fallacy made by the true property-rights fanatic dedicated to creating a pandemonium that doesn’t exist.  That slippery slope fallacy they love involves constructing a scenario in which one thing leads ultimately to an end so extreme that the first step should never be taken. For example: Eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream will cause you to put on weight. Putting on weight will make you overweight. Soon you will weigh 450 pounds and then you will die of heart disease. Therefore,  eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream leads to death. If you want to live,  don’t even try it.  And even though horses were declared a dangerous species in Connecticut, it’s not exactly a foregone conclusion that people will rise up to ban private ownership of horses across the continent.  Just because many people don’t want circuses,  aquariums, zoos, rodeos (there are valid reasons to eliminate many aspects of these things), there is absolutely no sign that pleasure horses will be eliminated as some sort of ever-present vegan conspiracy.

9  How Well Can Two Grain Meals During a Work Shift Suffice for Working Carriage Horses?

With the exception of Przewalski’s horses (who have a different number of chromosomes) domestic horses and wild horses are genetically exactly the same animal. That means that the horse living in your back yard or at a stable somewhere is genetically the same as the horse who evolved in the wild and those still living in the wild. It makes no difference that most horses we have were all born in captivity.  Our horse’s genetics are still the same as those horses who roamed across North America thousands of years ago.

GridlockSome people believe that a few hundred years of selective breeding can change all that, but we know that it takes a few thousand years to even begin to change the genetics of any species. Which means the horses in our back yard have been programmed for hundreds of thousands of years to live in wide open spaces where they can see predators coming, eat grass and other forage for 18 hours a day, move 10 miles a day on unshod feet and spend the day with multiple other horses for safety and security.  Of course, it’s not just the carriage horses who live a lifestyle at odds with their genetics – virtually all companion horses do.

We feed them diets of grain and molasses which are converted to sugars once eaten.  The horse’s gut is programmed to release digestive acid around the clock – not just when two small grain meals are offered. It’s a scientific fact that hay is digested by gut microbes and bacteria which generate heat during the process and actually helps keep horses warm.  The problem is that horses working a shift of 9 hours do not get the opportunity to eat hay and are offered a couple of grain meals instead until they return to the stable where they will be given hay.   A horse needs more forage when the temperature drops, so it follows that two grain meals per shift,  especially in winter weather,  will be insufficient. And when grass or hay is not available, stomach acid has nothing to process but the horse’s gut itself, hence a reason for ulcers.

Things that make horses most at risk for ulcer disease are sporadic feeding with periods of an empty stomach, or irregular feeding with long periods of no intake, high starch diets, exercise at speed, concurrent illness, especially of a gastrointestinal nature, and use of NSAIDS,” notes internal medicine specialist Carol Clark, DVM, Dipl ACVIM, of Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital in Ocala.

Charlie, a middle-aged NYC carriage horse who died enroute to work,  had a cracked tooth and ulceration of the stomach,  as revealed in his necropsy.  Horses need to eat free choice.  And if they drink too little because they’re working a 9 hour shift,  they can be both underfed,  cold,  and susceptible to colic.

Now if you listen to many commercial carriage supporters, they’ll tell you that two grain meals are perfectly fine and natural, and horses probably shouldn’t spend too much time on grass anyway because they will founder.  Of course,  there are exceptions to being on grass,  especially rich spring grass…….already laminitic horses,  overweight horses, certain pony breeds,  cushinoid/pituitary pars intermedia dysfunctional (PPID) or insulin-resistant horses may have to be dry-lotted or dry-lotted part of the time, but these are the exceptions that must be managed.  For more info on horses’ natural diets,  check out the eBooks  Horses Were Born to Be On Grass and Horses Without Grass.

The horse’s body uses food in order of importance.

  • Maintenance for body temperature
  • To renew the body’s tissues
  • Maintaining body condition and weight
  • For energy for movement and life

10.  As an Alternative,  Could the Horses Live And Work Only Within Central Park?

Chris pinned under the carriage

Chris is down and pinned under the carriage.

There are more than 200 carriage horses – stabling them in Central Park,  providing storage for the carriages,  storage for hay,  straw,  and temporary storage for manure, in addition to space for turn-out would require taking at least 100 acres of public green space and turning it over to this small, private industry.   And the horses could not realistically spend all their time in the park either, even spread out over several shifts.  The medallion holders own the 4 stables that the horses currently live in, so who would pay for the land use and the construction of a stable and paddocks? Would they sell their properties in order to finance such an undertaking?

11.  Will a Ban Mean That the Carriage Horses in NYC Will All Go to Slaughter?

We do not have enough rescue space in this country for the horses we have now.” At a press conference that day, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the Daily News story and ran with it. “I assume all the horses will go to slaughter,” he said.  Bloomberg fueled the story, and it’s been picked up continuously since, with many news outlets — from TIME to Metro to, most recently, The Daily Beast – claiming that the horses may go to slaughter after the ban.  And so too did Liam Neeson.

Why do they have to go anywhere?  As I stated early on in this blog post, the owners are not compelled to sell them.  But seeing as they are assets of a business that could be eliminated,  most of them probably wouldn’t keep the horses anyway.  Elizabeth Forel of the Coalition to Ban Carriage Horses, has said that the threat is a scare tactic done to persuade people not to support a ban.  “If any of the horses go to the slaughter auctions, make no mistake – it will be the drivers who bring them there.” The carriage owners claim that they do not send their horses to auctions or kill buyers.  But they certainly do sell them to the Amish on occasion, and the Amish are often middle men or kill buyers themselves who work these horses hard and then send the old and/or unsound horses directly to auction or sell directly to a kill buyer.  The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition has in its video library, numerous examples of draft and draft crosses being slaughtered in Canada after being shipped from New Holland auction.

Atlanta Carriage Horse - shoe needs reset

This Atlanta carriage horse needs new shoes or a reset – the toe has grown over the shoe. Of course this can happen with any horse, but working carriage horses must have adequate foot protection due to the number of hours on the pavement.  And this did not happen overnight either – farrier care is overdue

Allie Feldman, Executive Director of NYClass,  said that several organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and her own group, are dedicated to providing homes for the retired horses. In a recent blog post, Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS, offered Cleveland Armory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas as a sanctuary for some of the horses. He believes he can reasonably place 40-50 of the horses.  And Matt Bershadker, CEO of ASPCA, did the same in a statement: “We would gladly get involved — including tapping into our network of rescue partners and resources — to help with the transition.” Jackie Beckstead, Director of Accreditation and Field Operations for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries has also publicly stated that she has contacted her network of sanctuaries that take draft horses and found space available for horses as well.

And since we know that the horses have regular veterinary care, this will occasionally mean that they are given drugs that make them ineligible for slaughter, such as phenylbutazone.   Apparently former Mayor Bloomberg hasn’t heard about the prohibitions against sending drugged horses into the food chain!

12. Is it True That a “Land Grab” by Real-Estate Tycoons is the Primary Reason to End the Industry?”

Salt Lake City carriage horse Jerry colics while at work and is unable to rise. Later, he became the subject of a "bait and switch" campaign by the owners, who substituted another horse as him, and concealed his death for several weeks until challenged as to his whereabouts.

Salt Lake City carriage horse Jerry colics while at work and is unable to rise. Later, he became the subject of a “bait and switch” campaign by the owners, who substituted another horse as him, and concealed his death for several weeks until challenged as to his whereabouts.

This doesn’t explain why people like myself and others who have no vested interest in NYC real estate would like to see it end.   But this accusation has finally been debunked.  Steve Nislick, president of NYCLASS and a real estate developer, has answered the charges made by the carriage trade and the media that he wants the stable property.  He not only said it is not true but that if the property were  ever to come onto the market, he pledges that he will not bid on it.  He further goes on to say that neither will anyone from his company or organization.

The media has presented the carriage driver as a poor, marginalized, struggling blue collar worker whose business is being taken away by people who know nothing at all about horses and who covet their stable property. While I think that provisions need to be made for any drivers  who are employees of the medallion holders, some of the medallion holders own the buildings that house the horses, and two of the four stables happen to be sitting on prime real estate across from a Convention Center, near the Hudson Yards development.  Under the circumstances, cries that they would be victimized if they are sold ring hollow.  If the owners wanted to sell these properties, they would get market value for them and nothing less,  and they cannot be forced to sell them either.  So there is no “land grab.”

13. Should Mayor De Blasio be More Concerned That Horses are Dying at Aqueduct Racetrack?

Horse racing, like other gaming activities, is under the jurisdiction of the State of New York, not New York City.  I suspect that Mayor de Blasio has very limited, if any, input into the legislative/judicial actions of NY State. That is Governor Cuomo’s domain.

14. Are Most Complaints About the Carriage Horses Made by People Who Don’t Live in NYC or Haven’t Visited the Stables?

I’m sure that this is true,  but social media has made it irrelevant.  First of all, scheduled visits are worthless to see the true conditions for these animals. If you think scheduled inspections look the same as unscheduled inspections, try making a surprise visit to a nursing home.  Photographic evidence is abundantly available to allow others to judge for themselves.  Check out photos of the West Side Livery,  BEFORE the stalls were enlarged and it was added to the Clip Clop NYC Tour in 2013.

15.  There Is An Active Carriage Horse Trade in Toronto

Sorry,  this is just wrong.  We have no urban horses here.  Still,  some people will insist that we do,  and will google and find a half dozen or so carriage companies that provide LIVERY service in the Greater Toronto Area but do not stable horses here.  The horses are all stabled outside Toronto,  in most cases at least an hour’s drive away – in the country.  The fact that people can google “carriage horses Toronto” and find anything at all is a testament to the carriage companies’ use of Google Adwords campaigns driving internet searchers to their businesses.  Also,  some companies advertise their limousine services as “carriage livery” and they actually have no horses at all. 

16. How Safe is the Industry?

Jerry is hoisted back to the barn

Salt Lake City carriage horse Jerry is lifted back to the barn. You knew this was not going to end well when you saw the thin straps under his colicking belly.

The industry and its supporters like to tell us that there have been only 3 horses killed as a result of vehicular accidents in the last 30 years.  But smartphones haven’t existed for 30 years have they?  Most accidents that happened before smart phones and social media platforms existed were cleared before the media could report on them.  But now that we have smart phones, you’ll find there are a lot more accidents being revealed.  In any case,  there have been many injuries to both horses and people in the last 30 years,  and some horses were killed even though other vehicles were not involved.  On September 27, 2013 there was another widely-reported accident where a frightened carriage horse bolted and ran into traffic on heavily trafficked 57th St. Fortunately no one was in the carriage which slammed into a car, flipped and landed on the horse pinning his legs. Pedestrians helped to  lift the carriage off the horse who was not seriously injured.  Prior to this incident, this driver had been cited for over-charging customers in addition to operating the carriage for more than 12 hours within a 20 hour period.  While no horse activity is completely safe,  the potential injury for both horses,  passengers,  as well as property damage to other cars and the carriages themselves is greater due to the density of traffic, the noises of the city, and the number of things that in the city that a horse and carriage can collide with.

Source:  http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/act-c-shdc-acc.html

(Not all incidents occurred in NYC or even in North America)

17.  Some Commercial Carriage Drivers  Get Really Upset When They Perceive That They Don’t Have Support of Other Carriage Drivers or Horse People.

Well this is certainly not a myth!  They will try to convince you that whatever you are doing with your horse, it is more dangerous than what they are doing in NYC.  If you wear a helmet, you should stop that shit because you are a wimp.  Real horse people aren’t afraid of traumatic brain injuries.  If you prefer not to work your horse into a lather after riding or driving, your horse is a pansy.  At the very least they will make personal attacks about people’s character.

If caring for not only my own horse but other horses makes me a “loony” then please throw me in the bin.  Nobody cares if professional bloggers threaten to use the Huffington Post platform to write about us – it’s not news to anyone but a dozen or so harassers.  However,  maybe the people setting up fake Facebook pages pretending to advocacy groups should get some (professional) legal advice before they start interfering with the private business of people who disagree with the concept of urban carriage horses.  Harassment is not a protected form of speech.

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You may recall the scene in Manhattan where Woody Allen and Mariel Hemingway take a romantic, private, horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park, quipping their way through the leafy quiet. We regret to inform you that your carriage ride will be nothing like that experience. The horse will seem tired, the driver’s patter will be even less entertaining than Mia Farrow’s memoirs, and you’ll spend the entire ride crawling along the park’s main drives, staring at the back of another carriage, and enduring dirty looks from locals and animal lovers.—Siobhan Adcock

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This trough is dry and full of crap