Monthly Archives: January 2016

Kill Buyers, Faux Rescues, And Cockfighters, Oh My!

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“If truth, honor, and a big heart count for anything in this country anymore, then a huge dose of long overdue appreciation is due to every one of the few remaining stalwart, heroic, saviors of doomed and suffering horses…the horse buyers.

God bless them.”

~ Sue Wallis ~

Why would someone who presents themselves to be on the side of horses, alert a kill buyer or horse trader (Don Nowlin) to a website where they could try to negate an anti-slaughter bill?

“Sneek threw?” Seriously? Why would someone (Sabrina) who presents themselves to be on the side of horses, alert a kill buyer or horse trader (Don Nowlin) to a website where they might want to leave negative commentary on an anti-slaughter Bill, and encourage others to be wary of it as well?

Such prophetic words from Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis,  who never met a kill buyer she didn’t like.

I haven’t typically commented much on the issue of brokered horse sales, since it’s one of the most hopelessly partisan topics for horse advocates. I think that all horse advocates would agree that all horses deserve to be rescued despite the fact that, due to a completely random circumstance, they ended up on a feedlot or in the hands of a kill buyer, and that advocates’ networking and/or purchase of a brokered horse is an inevitable response to reality. I could not agree more.

People may ask, “what’s the problem if horse rescuers want to pay more than a horse is worth, and substantially more than what the kill buyer paid?” Over time, purchasing from brokered sales has become the de-facto method for rescuing horses, which means that private owners selling comparatively priced horses are completely excluded from consideration because there is no sense of urgency. I found this out myself when I was trying to place two mares that needed a new home this fall – the offer – that these two healthy, free mares came with 20 free round bales, was not sufficiently compelling because the owner was not going to slaughter them (they both eventually found a good home with a rescue, but not without a helluva lot of networking).  And this is why we should support legitimate rescues who often put training and vetting on the horses for a comparable price.

I see the issue of brokered horse sales as being comparable to that of puppymills – all these animals are deserving of rescue and a forever home,  but dog lovers are urged to avoid pet store dogs (since the majority are sourced from cruel puppymills). Pet shops capitalize on the natural appeal of puppies, kittens, and other animals to sell these animals at an inflated price—often several hundred dollars or more for “purebred” animals. Common problems in the pet-shop industry include selling sick and injured animals, failing to provide proper veterinary care, keeping animals in unsanitary conditions, and using inhumane methods to dispose of sick or unwanted animals. Sound familiar?  It’s a simple formula: where there is demand for a “product” like puppies (or horses), suppliers will fill that demand.  Kill buyers are analogous to puppymillers of the horse world.

The demise of faux horse rescue AC4H heralds trouble for other horse “rescuers” and brokered horse programs who are in the lucrative business of offering horses with great fundraising appeal (gaunt horses, mares in foal, ponies, minis, etc) who are never intended to go to slaughter. Some faux rescues may also be selling horses that have already been bailed by donations, thereby “double dipping.” In addition to paying far more than a horse is worth, the purchaser often incurs huge fees for quarantine and transport. After all that, in many cases the horses have lost substantial weight or are visibly sick by the time they arrive at the purchaser’s or,  in a worst-case scenario,  may be euthanized.

Deep down I feel that most horse advocates know or suspect that the people representing the brokered horses they buy may not adhere to general ethical standards such as full disclosure, honesty, or conformity to applicable laws. But we should all collectively denounce improper business practices or mistreatment of animals.

This “advocate” went out of her way to post a link on a KB/horse trader’s page to give him a heads-up that legislation was coming

As you can see, this post is from December 11th. These horses are "overdue?" For what, a trim? No, they're overdue for slaughter. The posts for these horses on this "advocate's" page continue even today, so they've been "overdue" for a while now. Why haven't they been shipped? Because you haven't paid their ransom yet, thus supplementing a whole supply chain down the line that relies on the ransom as their income in whole or in part.

As you can see, this post is from December 11th. These horses are “overdue?” For what, a trim? No, they’re overdue for slaughter. The posts for these horses on this “advocate’s” page continue even today, so they’ve been “overdue” for a while now. Why haven’t they been shipped for almost a month,  despite heavy lobbying? Because you haven’t paid their ransom yet, thus supplementing a whole supply chain down the line that relies on the ransom as their income in whole or in part. They may even have been purchased specifically for the secondary market,  possibly by outbidding legitimate homes.

down the pipe that might just put a big crimp in his lifestyle. I’d call that “casual sabotage.” The plan is to introduce the WASHINGTON DEFENSE OF HORSES ACT of 2016 this month. It will be introduced into the Washington State legislature and then used as a precedent in other key states.

KEY PROVISIONS:

  1. This law includes not only horses but all members of the equine family; ponies, donkeys, mules, asses, and burros.
  2. Equines will be defined under law as recreational/sports/service animals and provided all legal protection as other human companion animals.
  3. It will be illegal to slaughter a horse if it is known or should be known that any of the meat from the slaughtered animal will be used for human consumption.
  4. It will be illegal to possess, purchase, barter or sell privately; possess, purchase, barter or sell at retail; exhibit for barter or sale, or possess with intent to sell or barter horses and other equines or their meat if it is known or should be known that the horse or its meat will be used for human consumption.
  5. It will be illegal to transport a horse or the meat of a horse if it is known or should be known that it is intended for human consumption.
  6. Due to the severe threat to public safety posed by human consumption of horse meat, any and all violations of this law will be a Class C Felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000 for each and every horse involved.

There is only one reason I can think of to rally kill buyers or pro-slaughters against the WHDC’s anti-slaughter Bill, and that is because you don’t want the money pipeline to dry up. Don Nowlin, the kill buyer/horse trader in Washington that has been alerted to the website for the Bill, appears to be a member of several FB groups that promote cockfighting. They refer to themselves as “cockers,” which may have more than one meaning but is coloquially a term for a person who breeds or trains fighting cocks (but they hope nobody notices this). They hold fundraising activities for people in the community and have birthday parties for their kids complete with water slides and cupcakes, while probably running a cockfighting superbowl in the backyard (cockfighting is illegal in most places in the US). Do thousands of people follow these guys on Facebook because they like to admire chickens? Some of these groups are located in Mexico and the pages are all in Spanish,  and their websites require you to set up an account before you can view the galleries.  So Don is just another regular working guy trying to make a living and enjoying a few hobbies in his downtime!

As if horse slaughter isn’t bad enough, any sport that involves animals killing each other for their owners’ entertainment as well as monetary gain – is reprehensible. And when an “advocate” alerts a kill buyer to looming anti-slaughter legislation, she’s saying that she’s basically OK with animal cruelty in general, as long as it’s a passive, easy-to-ignore kind of cruelty.  That old saying has never been more true – “he that lieth with dogs shall rise up with fleas.”  Or to rephrase it – people will always sink to the lowest common denominator of the set or group to which they belong.

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(If these graphics in the slideshow are too small,  use CTRL + Mouse scroll to zoom in)

I hope my fellow advocates will take the time to report the Facebook group that I have screen-shot for animal cruelty, even moreso because it features a picture of a dog that has apparently been dragged behind a car, perhaps to demonstrate the curative powers of this black salve treatment they are shilling for roosters that have survived cockfights. It’s enlarged here, if you must look (but I suggest you stick to the smaller image in the slideshow above). Clearly the dog isn’t being treated by a veterinarian in this sequence of pics,  unless veterinarians typically treat dogs while they are lying on a BBQ…None of this is OK.

Meantime, Allen Warren of the WHDC has responded to the issue of kill pen scammers here:

“I know everyone is upset by the KBs and kill pen scammers attacking HR 2327, but we knew this would happen. Here are a few more TALKING POINTS for those of you who would like to take them on. We will ignore them ourselves because to respond to their lies would be to acknowledge them, and we don’t acknowledge bottom feeders at WHDC. You can use these facts, although I promise you won’t confuse them with the truth, no matter how many ways or times you say it:

  1. In the three states where there are current horse slaughter bans, California in 1998, Illinois in 2007 and New Jersey in 2012, there have been no increase in cases of equine neglect, but a dramatic drop in cases of horse theft. Oh, another sideline business for KBs, that’s right. Meat buyers are not looking for old skinny horses. Makes sense, right?
  2. Over 90 per cent of horses going to slaughter in figures kept by USDA are between the ages of 2 and 9, full bodied and sound. Right, the slaughterhouses want meat animals. So the KBs want us to believe they are buying any other kind?
  3. Once they have their greedy hands on them every horse headed for slaughter is considered the walking dead and horribly treated, both in kill pens and while being transported. They really care about horses….NOT.”
  4. And finally, Donnie Boy Nowlin never answered the first question I asked him. How can you sleep at night knowing these animals are poisoning the people of other countries? These scum are not members of the legitimate agriculture community, they’re greedy predatory scavengers and anyone who can’t see that has their head exactly where the guy in this photo does, or in the lowest orifice of their body. Go get em, Warriors!”

WHDC

 

Horse Welfare 2015 – The Year In Review

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Dream of horses

© Heather Clemenceau

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Each year spent fighting horse slaughter is proof enough that we live in a time of war. Although there will always be people and groups with a vested interest in seeing horse populations increase and the convenience of slaughter continue, 80% of Americans and 64% of Canadians say “no” to these injustices:

  • Despite the deterrent of jail terms for several key operatives in the 2013 horsemeat scandal, authorities in France are still investigating new horsemeat trafficking which now includes government officials and veterinarians.
  • There are still no charges against kill buyer Tom Davis or the BLM who sent horses to slaughter. Once again the BLM failed to follow its own policy of limiting horse sales and ensuring that the horses sold went to good homes and were not slaughtered. $140,000 of taxpayer money was used to transport the horses to Davis, who earned more than $150,000 in profits.
  • Obscene numbers of horses were run through auctions, often with up to 80% of them being bought by kill buyers. Prospective purchasers and bidders of horses hoping to rescue them from slaughter are being harassed at auctions.
  • Unpopular and unnecessary round-ups are still occurring in both the US and Canada.
  • In Great Britain, Dartmoor ponies are now being eaten in an attempt to “save” them.
  • The AQHA continues to be one of our biggest adversaries, and in 2015 they continued to wonder aloud what they could do to increase registration (and breeding). The AQHA braintrust created a super PAC designed to fight against horse owners, defeat the SAFE Act, and keep the breeding (and slaughter) going. To our dismay, Lucas Oil was named Title Sponsor of the AQHA World Championship Show.
  • With the demise of AC4H, which pulled in $800,000 in profit in two years of its operations, other brokered programs have sprung up or been expanded upon. Like a hydra, when one head is cut off, several more appear to take its place. Several markets have emerged as a result of the opportunities gleaned from Facebook, providing a very lucrative business, and kill buyers outbid private buyers at auctions on horses that they think they can flip using “the truck is coming” ploy.  Immense pressure is placed on rescuers,  who are continually told by kill buyers, “hang with me or the horses hang.” People are buying horses at outrageous prices and paying phenomenal amounts of money that could be used for feed and vetting, to ship them halfway across the country only to find that they are sick. In many cases the horses that arrive bear little resemblance to their photographs, may be misrepresented and sometimes must be euthanized upon arrival.
  • There have been several large scale seizures of horses at both rescues and private farms, sometimes occurring too late to benefit many horses. In the US, approximately 80 horses were seized from Peaceable Farm, a charity in Virginia. The owner marketed herself as a charity not to take care of horses, but to breed warmbloods, while letting dozens of other horses starve in the barn. She took in millions in donations. Emaciated horses and carcasses were removed from Larry Browning’s farm in Kentucky – he only had to wait 9 months before he could acquire more horses… Jerry Earls was charged with 100 counts of cruelty in Copiah County but evaded the charges related to injured, starving, and dead horses under his care and control. And in British Columbia, Canada, about 100 of Gary Roberts’ horses were seized by the SPCA and auctioned at Valley Auction – and thanks to rescuers, none went to kill buyers. The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition successfully pre-empted the possibility that they would go to kill buyers when they wrote a letter to Donald Raffian (Valley Auction owner) to advise him that the herd had been treated with bute and therefore did not have a drug-free history.

We also saw substantial victories in 2015:

  • Horse slaughter will remain defunded in the U.S. as part of the new $1.1 trillion Omnibus Bill, which is expected to be signed into law in January 2016.
  • At the present time, Americans have 183 sponsors in the House and 28 in the Senate for the SAFE Act S1214/HR1942.
  • Those found guilty this year for their participation in the EU lasagne horsemeat scandal of 2013 are now being jailed.
  • A slaughterhouse was closed in Alès, southeastern France, after video obtained by L214 Éthique & Animaux were released for public viewing, showing scenes of horrible cruelty. The slaughterhouse killed about 3,000 horses per year, in addition to cattle, sheep, and pigs.
  • The EU banned horsemeat from Mexico and Canadian Premium Meats ceased slaughtering horses in Canada.
  • Some two years after the first reports from Animals’ Angels and our European partners at TSB (Tierschutzbund Zurich) exposed the cruel conditions horses face in Canada in feedlots and slaughterhouses, GVFI, which purchased from both Bouvry and Viande Richelieu, scuttled their imports of horsemeat from Canada. This is the second major contractual loss for Bouvry.
  • We also fought back against the PMU industry, and Canadian HRT users were eligible to claim compensation from a $13.6 million dollar fund. A US Summit also called for an end to the Premarin Industry.
  • The Canadian Veterinary Equine Welfare Council, to represent the collective voice of veterinarians in Canada who are opposed to horse slaughter, was launched.
  • September 29th was the date of the very well attended Safe Food! Safe Horses! March2DC
  • There were maneuvers to keep the option of horse slaughter open in New Mexico. However, a judge ruled against the Valley Meat horse slaughter plant by expanding a 2014 injunction to include owners of D’Allende Meats, a firm launched by an investment group which purchased the Roswell plant from Valley Meats. The trial in the original 2013 case is slated for August 2016.
  • The Salt River horses received a reprieve. Soon after federal officials announced the imminent capture of 100 or so horses within the boundaries of a national forest near Phoenix — to be sold at auction, “condemned and destroyed, or otherwise disposed of” — horse advocates issued a call for action. They were supported by Arizona officials who joined in the chorus of protests, outlining the boundaries of a dispute that encompasses an old political battle between state and federal governments over the stewardship of public lands in the West.
  • Now that we have a new Liberal government in Canada, we may have more success for anti-slaughter initiatives, since the Liberals were, for the most part, favourably inclined towards the last anti-slaughter Bill C-571.
  • We are fortunate that we have investigative reporters who are willing to write about the injustices meted out to horses in Canada. Journalist Mary Ormsby of the Toronto Star (home of the best investigative reporting in Canada) continued to write about the serious concerns with horsemeat intended for human consumption. W5 and Zoocheck collaborated on an exposé that revealed that Alberta’s previous Progressive Conservative government did not commission its own studies of wild horse populations, preferring instead to take ranchers’ “analysis” at face-value about population levels and claims of damage to grasslands, which were not substantiated.

In 2015 we said farewell to several of our horse advocates. One of our greatest allies in Canada, MP Alex Atamenenko, decided to retire after drafting 3 anti-slaughter bills. A truly great advocate, we can only wish the best for him in his retirement. On a much sadder note, we also lost advocates Marie Dean, Lee Earnshaw, and Dana Lacroix.

 

 

Please read more about these and other headlines from 2015, arranged chronologically, in Storify

 

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