Monthly Archives: September 2015

Bedlam Farm’s Jon Katz – Losing So Hard



Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

If you’re not already familiar with the writer/blogger/photographer Jon Katz, you may have seen a  post he wrote this week entitled, “Rethinking the Ethics of Animal Rescue,” which isn’t the first of his blogs to raise a few hackles in the animal rights/welfare communities. Many of Katz’ comments aren’t much of a departure from what you might read from the Cavalry Group about animals being “property.” And he is such a prolific producer of voluminous blogs defending the working conditions of New York City carriage horses that he probably qualifies as his own “content mill.” The commercial carriage trade heavily promotes Katz’ articles, despite telling everyone not to listen to anyone who is not a horse person. Well, Mr. Katz isn’t a horse person either. He writes lyrical praise about what he sees and is told, from his myopic viewpoint on animals. He takes pretty pictures with a camera that he crowdsourced.  And bizarrely,  he promotes horse slaughter as humane,  while protesting that NYC carriage horses and other horses will be slaughtered if not kept “employed.”

Ponies are going to slaughter because it is now considered abuse for children to ride them…” ~Jon Katz

I strongly suspect that Mr. Katz often writes just to push buttons and blatantly troll people.  For instance,  I’ve never heard of ponies being sent to slaughter rather than being used for riding.  I’ve literally forced myself to read these and other plodding and sanctimonious posts set on his rural hobby farm, for “research purposes.” Despite living on a working farm, Katz’ writing reveals that he really doesn’t seem to know much at all about animals, especially farm animals. He whines constantly about having to care for them, the cold weather, his barn chores, and his dogs. It is a recurring theme of Mr. Katz’ that horses and other animals all need work in order to justify their existence, which is also why he is so churchy and moralizing about horse rescues in particular. But not all horse rescues – he actively promotes Blue Star Equiculture since presumably, they will continue to work horses on the farm rather than fulfilling the “emotionalized fantasies of humans” by letting them do nothing at all.  Katz certainly doesn’t ascribe many emotions to animals, yet despite this he is convinced that they are happy and seek self-actualization in their lives via the protestant work ethic.

“It is the cruelest kind of abuse to take carriage horses away from their human beings and force them onto rescue farms, where they will have no human contact, no work and nothing to do but eat hay and drop manure.”

Scores of elephants will be out of work over the next year or so.” ~ in reference to Ringling’s decision to retire circus elephants.

That’s the cruelest abuse Katz can think of?  He must not even be trying. But now back to the blog post in question……IMO this story about a horse named “Arthur” is nothing more than a piece of very imaginative writing the author is trying to pass off as fact. Katz really channels his inner Sue Wallis when he claims that horse slaughter is humane and that “Arthur,” who surely never existed, was sent on a documented trip to a Mexican slaughter plant that took 11 days…..

“The local slaughterhouse was close by, and was well-known for being humane. Slaughter was quick and painless, the horse and animal owners were always invited to come and watch if they wished, for their own peace of mind and to accompany their animals on their final passage.”

At the time of writing this, which Katz tells us was two years ago, there were no “local slaughterhouses” in the US and hadn’t been for several years. There were certainly no slaughterhouses that invited you inside to watch the carnage, or what he so comfortingly refers to as “their final passage.” Slaughterhouses well known for their humanity? Real animal lovers and especially horse advocates need to speak out in condemnation of such sanctimonious fakery. We’re expected to believe that someone who knew “Arthur” tracked his movements across the US to Mexico for slaughter and reported on how little he was fed or watered during his supposed 11 days in transit (but did nothing else). If Katz knew anything about transport to slaughter, he would know that horses aren’t watered at all on tractor trailers, and despite all the injustices and cruelty inherent in transporting horses or other livestock, no trip can take 11 days – legally or practically. A horse on a transport trailer for 11 days is a dead horse. And then he seems to express disgust that “Arthur” died by a “3 inch nail to the head.” How did he think most horses were guided on their way to their “final passage?”

“Arthur, an old draft horse, was purchased for $200, taken to a feedlot where he was given little to eat, according to a relative of James who tracked his journey and tried to save him, put on a trailer and driven for 11 days through summer heat without ever once being allowed to move around or walk outside.”

*Note to horse rescuers – this “relative of James” is pretty useless isn’t he? If he wanted to save “Arthur,” assuming neither of them are figments of Katz’ imagination, why didn’t he rescue him after the owner supposedly died? There were at least two opportunities to do so.  In the full post Katz also manages to squeeze in a condemnation about horse rescues in this fabricated scenario, claiming that the rescue wasn’t financially solvent and then took  “James” to an auction where he was bought by a kill buyer! And where in the world are the pics of “Arthur?” They must surely be the only photographs Katz has never published.

“ James’s mind failed before he resolved Arthur’s fate. He had to leave his farm and could not bury Arthur there, as he hoped. The horse was too old to give away. James was not aware that the people who claim to speak for the rights of animals had lobbied Congress and state legislators to make the slaughterhouses of America illegal. Many functioned in rural communities close to the people in their communities. The animal rights groups were successful, there are no longer any horse slaughterhouses left in the United States.”

Katz seems to think that there were horse slaughterhouses in every community?  In 2007, the last three now shuttered horse slaughterhouses operating in the US were Beltex, Cavel, and Dallas Crown and I doubt that the citizens of Kaufman, Texas in particular were too thrilled by the Dallas Crown plant operating so close in their community.

My difficulty with Katz’ writings go far beyond the issue I have with horses and slaughter. He continually indicts himself as a cold-hearted simpleton, and his animal care is little short of abysmal. The hobby farm itself is sometimes justified as an experiment to “rehab” his life – more likely it is an experiment to cash in on dog writing and passing oneself off as an expert with border collie and herding dog behaviours. He regularly denounces adoptions from dog shelters and promotes purchasing dogs from breeders. His farm animals all seem to meet with an early demise too – after he opined about his close connection to a lamb born on the farm, the lamb became “stricken.” No vet was called…for after all, it was a “farm” animal and therefore a part of the natural order of life and death. This little lamb suffered for days, not even nursing, while appearing disoriented. Finally, it was decided by Jon and his wife that they should “euthanize” him with a shotgun. He then put the dead lamb out in a back field for animals to eat. Katz is always quick to rally to the defense of farmers accused of neglect of their animals.  His perspective on the Joshua Rockwood farm seizure case is that animals are property and meddling busybodies in the animal rights community should not intervene.  He has no idea whether the allegations against Rockwood are legitimate or not,  but that is his stance.

“We have begun to worship animals at the expensive of people, granted them rights that people do not have, use them to promote the hatred of people, to make it difficult, dangerous or expensive to keep animals in our every day lives. The movement that goes by the name of animals rights is driving animals away from people at an accelerating rate, removing them from the world.”

If it’s difficult or expensive to keep animals in our every day lives it’s because some people actually provide proper veterinary care for them,  and humanely euthanize them at the end of their lives. Katz certainly doesn’t expend much effort and certainly no money beyond what’s required for feed, to look after his animals,  so it’s rather bizarre that he still thinks caring for his animals is that expensive.  What rights do animals have that people do not?  We live in a pet-obsessed culture; Americans spend  about $60 billion a year on their pets, so I wonder how Katz figures that we are driving animals away from us? Just more harem-scarem talk from yet another property rights fanatic who is worried he might not be able to get away with chaining his dog to an engine block for much longer. I’ve been told by a few people who live in the general area that his neighbours don’t think much of him either.

Anyone who uses holocaust terminology to describe AR activists, whom he likens to Nazis, is not someone I’d want on my team. Pets and farm animals are commodities that he expects to get rid of when their batteries run down or they become inconvenient. Everything on his farm gets sick, becomes neurotic, and either is euthanized or taken out back and dispatched. All his animals become tiresome, but are milked one more time in death, until a new one is acquired and the cycle begins anew.

Read James Herriot instead.


A Vow to Make to Your Companion Animal

“I will be your loyal companion from this day forward. Even more important, I will be your protector. You have my solemn promise that I will, to the absolute utmost that my strength and resources permit, protect you against all the hurts that life can hold, whether they be physical or emotional. You can depend on me for this. I will never let you down.

And when any hurts become such that all of my efforts cannot effectively alleviate them, I will place your needs above mine, your suffering over my own, and use the only means left to protect you from those hurts. I will deliver you comfort by bringing your pains to an end, not because I will be ready to let go, but because, to protect you, I will have to say goodbye. I know you will count on me at that difficult time to protect you, and I will be there for you, right by your side.

Should my passing come first, you need not worry, because I will have made all the provisions for your care, safekeeping, and happiness.

Fear not, because when death ends our physical togetherness, our emotional bond will never end. You will be a part of my heart forever. I promise.”

Credited to Kathryn Lance





Vegan Cats – Still Tragic!


Written by;  Heather Clemenceau

Humans have teeth ideally suited for grinding. Plant-based eaters often tell meat-eaters that "if we were meant to eat meat, we would have canine teeth." Well of course that’s true, but look at the cat’s dentition. We sometimes hypocritically claim that humans are plant-eaters based on our dentition, while asserting that cats don't need to eat meat due to our personal philosophy rather than the biological inheritance of the cat.

Humans have teeth ideally suited for grinding. Plant-based eaters often tell meat-eaters that “if we were meant to eat meat, we would have canine teeth.” Well of course that’s true, but look at the cat’s dentition. We sometimes claim that humans are plant-eaters based on our dentition, while hypocritically asserting that, despite having canines, we shouldn’t have to feed cats meat if it interferes with our belief system.

Since I wrote my first and only blog post on vegan cats and dogs, not much has changed. Cats are still strict carnivores that rely on nutrients in animal tissues to meet their specific nutritional requirements. To the best of my knowledge there are no long-term clinical studies of cats (or dogs) eating vegetarian or vegan diets, with or without non-vegan control groups.

Despite rather scant literature on the subject matter, the limitations of substituting animal-origin protein with plant-origin protein in food formulated for cats is being increasingly recognised. Simply looking at the overall protein content of a food is not enough to determine whether the food is a good choice for cats. We must consider then when feeding – what is the biological value of that protein to the cat? The natural diet of cats in the wild is a meat-based diet of rodents and birds. Cats are metabolically adapted to preferentially use protein and fat as an energy source, not carbohydrates. Not all proteins are equal either – proteins are made up of amino acid chains and there are a myriad of different combinations that serve many functions in the body. Since meat is a natural food source for cats, it is easy to conclude that meat proteins will have a higher digestibility for cats than plant proteins.

I do understand the motivation by some plant eaters to reduce their cat’s ecological pawprint in any way possible. But as

Cats have a limited ability to adjust protein utilization to the amount of protein in their diets. In other words, they need to burn protein for energy even if they aren't getting enough in their diet. Cats have lost a number of metabolic pathways that omnivores still utilise to metabolize plant-based foods. They have lost these pathways because in their natural habitat they hunt prey species that are high in meat-based protein, so they no longer needed the ability to efficiently metabolize plant material.” Source: Lyn Thomson, BVSc DipHom

“Cats have a limited ability to adjust protein utilization to the amount of protein in their diets. In other words, they need to burn protein for energy even if they aren’t getting enough in their diet. Cats have lost a number of metabolic pathways that omnivores still utilise to metabolize plant-based foods. They have lost these pathways because in their natural habitat they hunt prey species that are high in meat-based protein, so they no longer needed the ability to efficiently metabolize plant material.”
Lyn Thomson, BVSc DipHom

mentioned in my previous blog post on the subject, the vast majority of cat and dog food is derived from the meat industry, so additional animals are not killed to feed dogs, cats, or ferrets. Nevertheless, the feeding of vegan diets to cats, dogs, or ferrets does problematize the definition of “vegan” for many people. They quite understandably feel that if they buy any meat-based pet foods, they are supporting the meat industry and not carrying out the  “noble vegan boycott” of those industries. Over time I’ve found that some vegans/vegetarians invariably equate non-animal food sources as some sort of penultimate launching pad towards spiritual purity. But when we insist that cats, who are obligate carnivores, actively participate in that effort, we’re anthropomorphizing them.  We don’t ask that cats share our religion,  so why must they share our diets?

Moreover, sometimes we steadfastly refuse to consider the implications of the few studies that are available that cast doubt on the long-term health effects of vegan diets, relying instead on anecdotal evidence. But consensus via anecdote is not empirical evidence. Anytime the main “evidence” for a product’s efficacy is testimonials or other anecdotes, everybody’s woo detector should light up.  And even though you may have consistently observed a phenomenon again and again (cats eating a vegan diet and thriving), there is no guarantee that your next observation will agree with the previous one. For example, even if you’ve only ever seen white swans, it is still incorrect to assume that all swans are white. So, if you require that all knowledge must be based on your personal observation alone, you can never be sure you know anything.

If the studies mentioned in the previous blog post weren’t sufficiently convincing that vegan foods for cats are, at the very least, completely experimental, perhaps the following study and interview will make a skeptic of some readers. As it turns out,  there is more literature available on vegan cats,  but we were just looking for it in English! Both the study and interview have been translated from their original German, and should you wish to read them or translate them yourself, the original links are included.

“The natural diet of cats in the wild is a meat-based diet of rodents and birds. Cats are metabolically adapted to preferentially use protein and fat as an energy source, not carbohydrates. There is a substantial difference in protein requirements between our cats as obligate carnivores and other carnivorous species, such as the dog. Adult cats require two to three times more protein than adults of any omnivorous species, such as humans.” Source: Lyn Thomson, BVSc DipHom

“There is a substantial difference in protein requirements between our cats as obligate carnivores and other carnivorous species, such as the dog. Adult cats require two to three times more protein than adults of any omnivorous species, such as humans.”
Lyn Thomson, BVSc DipHom

The Interview – Dr. Kienzle and Spiegel Online

The following translation is ©Anke Hagen. Translated from the German original and supplemented with additional information on Prof. Kienzle by Anke Hagen. Should you share this, kindly make no alterations whatsoever – thank you.

Prof. Dr. Ellen Kienzle is the head of the Department of Animal Nutrition and Dietetics at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich in Oberschleißheim.

She in on the Livestock Commission and has obtained credentials at the ECVCN committee. In addition to student counselling her research field includes the veterinary nutrition of dogs, cats and horses

The European College of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition (ECVCN) is recognized throughout the veterinary profession for its progressive leadership, for the high standard of professional excellence of its members, the Diplomates.

In order to become a Diplomate, veterinary surgeons, known as Residents, must undergo a rigorous training programme in either Large or Small animal nutrition, supervised by recognized veterinary specialists e.g. other Diplomates or Professors of Nutrition at a number of Universities

What does ‘ECVCN Diplomate mean? A specialist?

A ECVCN Diplomate is someone who has founded the ECVCN, or has successfully passed the examination of the European College of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition, a EBVS-recognised College.

The objective of the European College of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition (ECVCN) is to advance the quality of animal health care in Europe by increasing the competency of those who are active in the field of veterinary nutrition.

The ECVCN was founded in 1998 from the European Society of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition.

The college obtained full recognition by the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation (EBVS) and currently counts 39 Diplomates.

Prof. Kienzle does not recommend a vegan diet for dogs! She said an ‘ovo-lacto vegetarian diet’ (as opposed to a vegan diet) is POSSIBLE (but not optimal) for dogs, but then only under the strict supervision of an expert veterinary dietician. It is very rare to find persons with a qualification like hers. She says that whether or not one adds raw meat or not or feeds dogs an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet, people generally tend to underestimate the canine calcium requirement, because their ability to metabolize calcium (their uptake efficiency) is far worse than ours.

When asked by Spiegel Online how a calcium deficiency manifests in dogs, Prof. Dr. Kienzle replied:

“Kienzle : dogs develop skeletal diseases such as brittle bones, which can manifest themselves within two years. With puppies this can happen within a few weeks. Unfortunately, you can not tell that a dog has a calcium deficiency on the basis of a haemogram in time! One only notices the lack when it is already too late clinically speaking. Pregnant bitches (female dogs) have a particulary high calcium requirement A particularly high calcium needs are pregnant bitches and especially puppies who pick up weight particularly fast. In such cases, I strongly advise heeding *specialist* veterinary nutritional advice.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is not it enough then to simply feed them more eggs and dairy products?

Kienzle: No, that’s not enough. You have to supplement with calcium. Calcium tablets used in human medicine are not suitable for this incidentally, the doses are far too low.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Can’t dog owners simply rely on ready-made vegetarian feed mixtures to ensure that the dog has no deficiencies?

Kienzle: I would not rely on that. The vegetarian dog mixtures that exist on the market, usually come from vendors who lack the necessary expertise. Incidentally, the Stiftung Warentest recently tested ‘vegan’ cat food and found chicken components in a vegan food mixture intended for cats and dogs.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So it is possible to feed dogs vegetarian food. What about vegan nutrition?

Kienzle: At a stretch, and if you are absolutely desperate to do that, you can do that with an adult dog, but only in keeping with the aforementioned reservations and recommendations. But in pregnant or lactating bitches and in puppies a vegan diet is not acceptable.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do dogs accept the transition to a vegetarian diet that simply?

Kienzle: Dogs might not accept the new food at first. But usually you can get them to accept it by letting them starve for a while. I would not recommend that. Whether a vegan regards that as being ethical or not is something he will have to to reconcile with his own conscience.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: I’ve heard that it is essential to supplement two substances on a vegan diet: L-carnitine and taurine. Is that correct?

Kienzle: That statement cannot be validated in such a generalized sense – it depends on the one hand on the breed of the dog, on the other hand, on the individual nutritional requirements. But on a vegan diet, it would not be harmful to supplement with both substances, because a shortage of either of them would mean that the animal is in danger of suffering from heart muscle disease.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: People who feed their dogs vegan food, always claim that their dogs benefit health-wise. Can you confirm that?

Kienzle: I regard a generalization like that as being highly problematic and questionable. Those who feed their dogs raw meat also claim the same things. We know that both dogs and horses display very strong placebo effects, simply because the animal gets more attention from its guardian/keeper. But of course, you will always find individual cases where a dog with an allergy or skin disease, for example, will benefit from a change of diet.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Can you feed a vegan diet to cats?

Kienzle: Dogs have been domesticated for about 20,000 years and have adapted their diet and their metabolism to humans. Dogs are much more flexible in their diet than cats who have indeed continued to feed on mice during their domestication – which is precisely why they were kept by humans in the first place. Feline metabolism has also not been researched in as much detail as that of the dog. I therefore reject the nutrition of vegan food to cats, and an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet for cats is also to be regarded in a far more critical light than one for dogs. In addition it is also difficult to change a cat’s nutrition because they are subject to stringent nutritional conditioning. It would not function to allow a cat to starve. The cat would die.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What is your view of carnivorous companion animals in general?

Kienzle: I find it questionable that vegans even keep predators as companion animals at all. The animal serves the purpose of entertaining them, which alone is selfish enough. Then in that case, the least you should do is to respect the needs of the animals. You don’t necessarily have to keep a carnivorous companion animal. One could also keep a rabbit or a small guinea pig. They are very amusing and loving companions too.”

Interview conducted by Jens Lubbadeh.

“Not all proteins are equal. Proteins are made up of amino acid chains and there are a myriad of different combinations that serve many functions in the body. Proteins are structural and tissue components in the body, enzymes and antibodies and serve messenger and transport functions. Ingested proteins will vary considerably in how well they are utilised by the body. Plant-based proteins do not have the same amino acid profile as meat-based proteins and these differences are crucial to cats." Source: Lyn Thomson, BVSc DipHom

“Not all proteins are equal. Proteins are made up of amino acid chains and there are a myriad of different combinations that serve many functions in the body. Proteins are structural and tissue components in the body, enzymes and antibodies and serve messenger and transport functions. Ingested proteins will vary considerably in how well they are utilised by the body. Plant-based proteins do not have the same amino acid profile as meat-based proteins and these differences are crucial to cats.”
Lyn Thomson, BVSc DipHom

The Study – Dr. Radka Engelhard, DVM – Field Study of Vegetarian Food for Dogs and Cats

The following translation is joint collaboration between Tamara Goertz,  Dr. Werner Liesack and Birgit Liesack. ©Tamara Goertz et al. Translated from the German original published on

“In this study interviews were conducted with 54 owners of dogs and five owners of cats, for a total of 86 dogs and eight cats. These owners were feeding their dogs and cats a vegetarian diet and for this reason they were picked for the interviews.

The questions in the interviews included, what type of vegetarian dishes were fed and what feeding techniques were used, and what portions were dispensed. These questions were asked on a standard questionnaire.

The results of these questions were:

66 adult dogs received 11 per cent ovo-lacto vegetarian diet (which includes eggs and dairy), 47 per cent lacto-vegetarian diet (dairy), 29 per cent vegan, 13 per cent semi-vegetarian (with not pure vegetarian supplementary food), for eight vegan pups and eight vegan cats.

As well, the results of all details of illnesses were recorded and clinical checkups were undertaken, and in some cases blood work and urine samples were taken.

And finally, commercial pure vegetarian animal food was tested for its suitability.

  1. The main reason for the participants’ involvement (in the study) was to present the ethical-religious aspects, that man has no right to kill animals for their meat. As well, that the current meat standards entail many health risks.
  1. The supply of protein was insufficient by more than half of the adult dogs. Also, results often showed that the intake of S-containing amino acids, such as cysteine, were too low. Nonetheless, all plasma parameters were tested for protein intake (total protein, albumen, urea) inside the reference area.
  1. The typical mistake made in the homemade ratios of mineral elements were also found in vegetarian dogs. Sixty-two per cent of the dogs were lacking the minimum calcium requirement, and about half the dogs were lacking the minimum phosphorus requirement. An unbalanced Ca/P ratio was glaringly apparent. Also, 73 per cent of the dogs lacked sodium.
  1. In the trace elements the supply of iron, copper, zinc and iodine were often insufficient.  The content of iron, copper and zinc in plasma was mostly below the reference value, but there was no clear relation between their intake and plasma content.
  1. It was discovered that vitamin D in the vegan rations were often insufficient. Also here were reduced plasma content of 25-OH-vitamin D; however, no firm relationship to vitamin D intake was recognized. A total of 56 per cent of dogs received insufficient supply with vitamin B12. Supply with panthotenic acid was frequently marginal.
  1. The adult dogs displayed no clinical deficiency from the insufficient vitamin intake.
  1. The vegan puppies at eight weeks of age were only about half of the expected body weight.”


Biological value (BV) is a measure of the proportion of absorbed protein from a food which becomes incorporated into the proteins of the organism's body. When one or more of the essential amino acids are missing or present in low numbers, the protein is has a low biological value. The biological value of a protein is a number from 100 down to 0, that describes how well it is absorbed by the body. More precisely, it is a measure of the percentage of the protein that is actually incorporated into the proteins of the body.

Biological value (BV) is a number from 100 down to 0, that describes how well a protein is absorbed by the organism’s body.  More precisely,  it is the measure of the percentage of the protein that is actually incorporated into the proteins of the body.
When one or more of the essential amino acids are missing or present in low numbers, the protein has a low biological value.

Unfortunately, the vegan lifestyle can never be unassailably consistent, or free of contradiction. In fact, one could say that most vegans already support the meat industry if they eat in any restaurants that serve meat, so just like my non-vegan cats, we’re both supporting agribusiness. And depending on where you live and what vegan cat food you buy,  it may not even be vegan anyway,  since Dr. Kienzle’s research has shown that chicken has been determined to be an ingredient in some foods.  Perhaps this explains the relative good health of some vegan cats in studies – they’re actually getting biologically valuable proteins from ingredients that weren’t intended to be added to the food!

Even by purchasing only vegetarian or vegan special product lines exclusively,  we might still be unknowingly supporting the meat industry.  This is because so many of the cruelty-free foodstuffs and other products we love to eat are owned by big food conglomerates (Conagra used to own Lightlife, the maker of “Smart Bacon;” Dean Foods purchased Whitewave, makers of “Silk;” Kellogg owns Morning star Farms who make meatless sausages and burgers, and Kraft owns vegetarian burger company Boca). As if none of that were bad enough, Big Tobacco company Philip Morris owns Kraft. As unhealthy as Velveeta is, probably Marlboros are worse….

But even without all this skepticism of vegan diets by veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists, is the presence of canine teeth not suitably convincing? Some people already remove a cat’s claws, and aside from this being extremely painful to the cat,  it also greatly infringes upon a cat’s ability to partake of its natural behaviours.  Must we inflict extruded vegetable pellets or vegetable mush on them as well?

It is both ethical and humane to permit cats to scratch and eat meat.  These are both undeniably inherent feline attributes. If we can’t accept a cat’s natural ways of being then perhaps a different companion animal would be in order?

I do love this tweet, and appreciate Ricky Gervais advocating for the true nature of cats everywhere.

I do love this tweet, and appreciate Ricky Gervais advocating for the true nature of cats everywhere.

Safe Food! Safe Horses! Join The March2DC – September 29th


horse drugsWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau,  with files from Nancy Watson

Each year spent fighting horse slaughter is proof enough that we live in a time of war – a constant struggle to maintain the de- facto ban on domestic horse slaughter in the U.S. We saw how corruptible and falsifiable equine passports were during the EU lasagna adulteration scandal two years ago, where meat has for years been extruded through a supply system that could hardly be more opaque, and foreign gangsters and mafia were secretly adulterating the food supply with profit as the main incentive.

Henry Skjerven, former director of Natural Valley Farms (defunct horse slaughterhouse) in Saskatchewan, Canada said:

“US and Canada were never geared for raising horses for food consumption. The system as it stood when we were killing horses was in no way, shape or form, safe, in my opinion.

We did not know where those horses were coming from, what might be in them or what they were treated with. I was always in fear – I think that it was very valid – that we were going to send something across there [to the EU] and we were simply going to get our doors locked after we had some kind of issue with the product.”


Please join the Grassroots Advocates March to the U.S. Capitol  The march and rally will take place along Independence Ave. to the US Capitol Building on September 29, 2015. The scheduled events on this day are intended to raise public awareness of the grave risks U.S. horse slaughter has created for the U.S. and global food supply, and to call upon Congress to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2015 S.1214 / H.R. 1942 to ban the slaughter of U.S. horses. A recent report from Chapman University, published in August 2015, found horsemeat DNA adulterating mislabeled meat samples sold in the United States.

American horses receive any number of highly toxic drugs that are outlawed by the FDA for use in animals intended for consumption. American horses, including wild horses, live in uncontrolled situations for indeterminate periods of time, have inadequate health histories and may not have not been reliably vaccinated and monitored for illnesses such as rabies, brucellosis, anthrax, glanders, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, or ehrlichiosis.

Ann Marini, M.D., Ph.D., a featured speaker at the march, states American horses are not raised for food. The food safety issue that has been created as a result of sending contaminated horse drugs in meatmeat overseas and into the U.S. food supply is a huge liability for the United States, and needs to end immediately.”

The march, titled “SAFE Food, SAFE horses” will end on the west lawn of the Capitol Building where equine advocacy experts and scientists will discuss why U.S. horse meat contamination poses such a grave threat to our food supply, and how passage of the SAFE Act is crucial to keeping the food supply safe from contaminated horse meat and protecting U.S. horses from slaughter.

American horses are slaughtered for human consumption in Canada and Mexico at the rate of 1 every 5 minutes. Horse advocates want to put an end to the U.S. horse slaughter pipeline once and for all in order to stop contaminating the global food supply with meat from horses that have not been raised for human consumption.

Horse slaughter is a particularly cruel and horrendous death for American horses. As prey animals, horses are especially skittish by nature. They will not stand passively while the executioner attempts to hit a dime sized target on their forehead with a captive bolt gun. Multiple attempts with a bolt gun have been administered to horses in slaughterhouses. Horses who are not adequately stunned may be butchered while still alive and conscious. The only safe and humane way to end a horse’s life is through chemical euthanasia with proper disposal of the remains to avoid contamination of the food supply.

Surveys have shown that over 80% of Americans oppose horse slaughter. Yet, in 2011 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a fraudulent report indicating that horse slaughter is needed in order to prevent neglect and abuse. Several animal advocacy groups have debunked the GAO report, stating that “they have irrefutable evidence showing that the Government Accountability Office fraudulently misrepresented horse abuse and neglect data in their report GAO 11-228. There is both a video and white paper available on line debunking the fraudulent GAO report. Quarter horses make up 75% of US horses going to slaughter in Canada and Mexico due to breed associations such as AQHA promoting horse slaughter as a solution to dealing with overbreeding.

bad politiciansIrresponsible breeding is the single biggest contributor to the U.S. slaughter pipeline, with 70% of the annual Thoroughbred foal crop going to slaughter. Breeders are continually attempting to find the next Secretariat or Seattle Slew. Those horses that don’t make the cut are sent into the horse slaughter pipeline.

In light of all this, advocates are booking flights and making arrangements to participate in the march in a concerted plea to Congress to pass the SAFE Act. Bills calling for the ban of horse slaughter and horse slaughter transport have received overwhelming public and legislative support for many years, but have died an unseemly death in Committee, having never been released to the Floor for a vote. In the previous session of Congress, the SAFE Act S541/HR1094 had 183 cosponsors from the House and 29 from the Senate, but yet again it died in Committee.

The SAFE Act of 2015 S.1214/H.R.1942 has been reintroduced to the 114th Congress by Congressman Guinta of New Hampshire and Senator Menendez of New Jersey with the intent of finally passing this critical bill into law. Food Safety is an issue that concerns all governments. The horse meat scandal that rocked the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom in 2013 involved contaminated horses from North America. The EU Food Safety Commission has since banned all horse meat imports from Mexico, as these are known to be American horses. Current U.S. legislation allows contaminated horses to pollute the global food supply. This bill is sorely needed to ensure that our horses remain safe in the U.S. and off of dinner plates.

A preview of the movie “The Kill Pen” by Sharon Boeckle will be featured


Date, Time, Place:

September 29, 2015 at 10:00am (Please be on-site by 9:30). The meeting point will be in front of the USDA building at South Building 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20250-9911. The march will be a planned route to the Capitol Building.  Directions to USDA Building.


We will meet promptly at 10:00am in front of the USDA building and have several speakers with opening statements about our mission and the importance of banning horse slaughter and closing our borders to horse slaughter transportation in the US. After opening remarks, we will march to the West Lawn of the Capitol Building.  Additional events will be announced soon. Sorry, no permits have been obtained for horses.  Please bring a sign in support of the SAFE Act S1214/HR1942, but there will be extras for those who cannot. Hand held banners will be placed throughout the march.  There will also be a Flashmob – please sign up here.

We are going to rally on the Capitol Grounds for the remainder of the day (please be on-site at 9:30):

  • 10:00Dr. Lester Friedlander will lead the march from the USDA building to the Capitol after addressing marchers
  • 11:00 – National Anthem on the Capitol grounds
  • 11:30 – Speakers: Jo-Claire Corcoran will discuss the chronology of US horse slaughter pipeline.  Dr. Ann Marini will discuss equine drugs and how harmful they are to humans and the global food supply. Dr. Friedlander will discuss equine diseases and the USDA and the contamination of our global food supply, and finally horse advocate Meghan Dixon will speak about her connection with horses and how they enrich our lives.
  • 12:00 – Our horse-themed playlist will play on our sound system
  • 2:00 –  Screening of Kill Pen trailer for Congress Members inside the Capitol (room CVC217 – refreshments will be served)
  • 2:00 –  Open Mic begins for those at the rally (content must be approved by the march team prior).  Open Mic sign-up here.
  • 5:00 – Rally on the Capitol lawn and closing remarks by Dr. Friedlander


For further info,  please contact Nancy or Rita,  or visit the event’s Facebook page:

Nancy Watson 631.742.4167

Rita Reik 561.818.9664

Safe March


The following is credited to Captain Paul Watson (useful message points to consider when preparing signage, writing, and speaking to media):

Media Laws
1.  The Media is not concerned with facts, statistics or scientific reports. The media is interested in drama, scandal, violence and sex.
2.  Without visuals, there is no story on TV, without photos, you have a weak story in the print media.
3.  Learn to use the media or you will be abused by the media. Media manipulation is merely a matter of survival in a media culture.
4.  Always talk in soundbites. Keep it simple. Do not clarify. Never underestimate the intelligence of the viewer, the listener or the reader.
5.  Ignore the question put to you if it does not serve your purpose. Say what you wish to say. Stay in control.
6.  Emotion will always triumph over fact. Emote. Use humor. Make the viewer like you.
7.  In a media culture, the medium is the message. TV and film are the message of the mind.
8.  Objectivity is a myth, an illusion, a con, and a trick. Objectivity in the media does not exist. The illusion of objectivity may work as a strategy but only a fool would believe that it is a reality within the media culture.
9.  The media defines reality. What is real is what is reported. The public believes what is real is what it has been told to believe.
10. Believe nothing that you read, be skeptical about what you hear and question all that you see. All your senses can be manipulated.

Saddle Up – Tour Of A Master Saddler’s Shop


Suffering in Silence by Jochen SchleeseWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Scenes of whizzing conveyor belts and tool-wielding workers are the reason I love the TV show “How It’s Made.” Usually the show presents a behind-the-scenes look at many products we take for granted from bathtubs to belt buckles and other mass-produced items. It was originally created in 5 minute episodes that were used by broadcasters used to fill gaps in their schedules.

My favourite episodes are the ones that feature the hand-crafted or artisanal products, like stagecoaches, native drums, and jewelry. I love the back-to-back marathons in particular. I’d seen the episode on the making of english saddles, but I never made the connection that the factory that made the saddles in the episode – Schleese Saddlery, was only a few minutes from my house in York Region, Ontario. I had the opportunity to get a tour of the factory in July, and I was generously given master saddler Jochen Schleese’s book and DVD after the tour.

Have you ever wondered about the craftsmanship and precision that go into making a saddle? Craftspeople build about 15 custom-made saddles each week at the Holland Landing factory- these saddles are all designed and assembled from patterns using the rider and horse’s personal and often asymmetrical measurements.

The factory features modern industrial sewing machines and some “old world” craftsman and fabrication tools.  I am walked through the production line where polyurethane saddle trees are matched to individual saddle orders. To reinforce the saddle tree, steel plates are placed underneath the tree from the pommel to the cantle. The steel panels disperse the rider’s weight over a larger surface, thereby protecting the horse from the weight of the rider. The stirrup bars are bolted onto the tree. The stirrup bars are made of two pieces: the bar itself, and a movable piece that works on the premise that it can be opened when the stirrup leather is put in position and should open and release the stirrup leather if the rider should fall.

Layers of sculpted padding and foam, wool stuffing, girth straps, flaps, and other leather components are attached to the saddle next both by hand and machine sewing. The craftspeople are each working on specific components of the saddles today, but production manager Ben tells me that they are all expected to learn how to craft and attach all the parts of the saddle, as well as perform quality control on both their own work and on the saddle overall before it is ready for the client. On that day, there were also several saddles of different manufacture being re-stuffed or altered to accommodate changes in the horse’s musculature. It is paradoxical to expect to buy one saddle with the anticipation that it will never require adjustments. In a well-fitting saddle the horse should begin to muscle up and change conformation so that at least annual adjustments will be required to accommodate this growth or to simply add additional stuffing after the padding has flattened down due to riding.

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I’ve seen some pretty sketchy looking saddles offered for sale on Kijiji, Craigslist, and Facebook – some look like cast-off relics from the civil war era. Even if the saddles are made by a reputable company and the tree is the appropriate size, they will not necessarily fit all horses since the designs themselves vary and horses’ backs, ribs, and withers also vary widely in terms of size, shape, and muscling. I was not able to use my Stubben Roxane saddle on other horses I owned despite its quality and generic size. It still fit me and my high-withered Thoroughbred, but the cantle pitched backwards on my low-withered Arabian, and you only had to look at it to see that no amount of additional stuffing in the cantle area would make it sit flat or rest properly in the skapula area.

One of my takeaways from the plant tour and the book/video was how critical saddle fit was to a horse’s overall well-being. We should all know how to perform a basic evaluation of saddle fit when considering a new or used saddle, and the book and DVD explained how a poor-fitting saddle impinges on the shoulders, cartilage, skeletal muscles, and spine of the horse, to the animal’s detriment. Not only will the horse not move well, but he/she will be in physical pain.

Horse owners spend literal fortunes on veterinary attention, farrier work, pharmaceuticals, supplements, and physical therapies, all in an attempt to keep their horses healthy and sound. We invest time and money in finding boots, breeches, helmets, and chaps to ensure what we wear in the saddle is safe, comfortable,  and right for the job at hand. But horse people will often buy saddles without understanding that it is the most fundamental means of connection with the horse and it must have proper fit initially and thereafter.

Thanks to Sabine Schleese and Ben for generously accommodating me……..