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 ~
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
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.
- This law includes not only horses but all members of the equine family; ponies, donkeys, mules, asses, and burros.
- Equines will be defined under law as recreational/sports/service animals and provided all legal protection as other human companion animals.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
(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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.”
- 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!”