Tag Archives: HSUS

Slippery Is The Slope: A Reader And I Debate The Ethics of Horseback Riding

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dressageOnce in a while I get a response to a blog post that really merits its own stand-alone blog. Lauren sent me a response to my blog addressing the ethics of horseback riding, and while she doesn’t agree with my conclusion, I think she raises some interesting points and introduces several new arguments. So I wanted to present her post, which she took a lot of time to compose, along with my rebuttal arguments.

LAUREN’S POST:

“This is long so please bare with me:

Hi Heather, my name is Lauren and I came across your blog post today while doing some research. I am a soon-to-be graduate of Purdue University, am a vegetarian for multiple reasons, and rode horses for 15 years before changing my entire viewpoint on riding.

I have ridden in both English and Western disciplines and was once a rated member of the United States Pony Club. I have raced barrels, hacked Saddlebreds, ridden in Western pleasure classes, ridden trails, competed in dressage, and jumped cross-country. I have probably ridden over 100 horses (I am not joking) from ponies to ex-racehorses. I have also had many different riding instructors over the years including so-called professional riders. I used to attend the Rolex Three Day event in Kentucky every Spring and thought that somehow my poor (seriously) self would find an opportunity to become a professional eventer with some off-the-track-Thoroughbred I’d bought for $300. Then one day I literally walked away from it all and I have not looked back since.

Eventing extremes

The cross country portion of the “triathlon” is the most extreme equestrian sport, pushing horses and riders often beyond their physical and mental limits.

Last September, I saw an article pop up on my Facebook about the organizers of a three day event changing part of a cross-country course half way through the order-of-go. Apparently many of the horses and riders had been having problems at particular jumps due to poor weather conditions. So I posted the article to my feed with a statement that this was unfair because most of the professional riders at the event were at the end of the running order and would now be riding a different if not easier course than the novice riders that went before them. I got some backlash from fellow riders who said the organizers were correct to look out for the “safety” of the other riders once they realized there were too many problems. I insisted that this still wasn’t fair because the riders at the end were more experienced and should know how to “handle” the poor conditions. Still, there were arguments that this change of course was proper for safety. A little angered, this time I pointed out that the whole sport of eventing is dangerous and horses can die. They do die. I was at Rolex just across the field in 2008 when Lainey Ashker’s Frodo Baggins went down over the now-infamous Flower Basket jump. Horses die in this sport all the time and yet we never once ask the horse if he’d rather not go out there and risk his neck for it.

Britain Grand National Jumps Racing

Jumps Racing is obviously reckless with multiple horse and rider fatalities every year.

So I began to think about this some more. I’m no physicist, but I realized that any time a mistake is made at a jump it is always the rider’s fault. This is due to the fact that the horse is in no way “designed” to carry a rider (living organisms do not have a defined purpose and neither do their parts; see Diamond v. Chakrabarty which alludes to this legally, and check out the NIH’s stance on this). Any minimal shift in the rider’s weight (which is going to happen), shift of the tack (which is also going to happen) or otherwise (a random act of nature, i.e. shifting of wind or terrain) can and will throw the horse off-balance. In addition, any perceived “wrong” move taken by the horse in response to the shifting of his balance or active response to shifts in the rider’s weight are often punished by use of the crop and/or spurs. Typically, what the horse is really doing is making an active judgment of the situation to account for rider error (i.e. the shifting of the rider’s weight). Again, I don’t have science to back me up here, but I would hypothesize that the movement the horse would make on a cross-country course, such as an approach to a jump, would almost always be different from the movements made by the horse with a rider on its back. To complete the example, if you have a horse and rider approach a jump and he suddenly refuses or lunges to the side to go around the jump, he has made a judgment call that he could not safely make the effort without injuring himself. And for this the horse often receives a whack with the whip, a jab of the rider’s spurs, and/or a nasty yank of the reins. The horse made an effort to protect himself – to survive – and he received punishment.

I don’t believe any horse on this planet would go out and run an XC course of his own accord in the absence of a rider. Horses can certainly jump, but I would like to think that they do so out of necessity rather than finding joy in it (I’m not talking about a horse jumping a random log in the middle of the field on his gallop back to the barn for evening chow, which is still technically necessity anyway – jumping the log might be the fastest way to the barn). I know horses a little bit and I had ridden them for many years – I just don’t think they would jump an entire cross-country course without the guidance of a rider for what humans call “fun.”

bounding out of the gate

An average of 24 racehorse deaths every year in the US – approximately 2,000 horses break-down and have to be vanned-off at tracks.

Further, if these event riders have such great partnerships with their horses, why exactly do they need whips, spurs, and/or bits? Some go “nice in a snaffle,” but I’ve seen gags, pelhams, and elevators on the cross-country horse, as well as different lengths of spurs on the rider’s boots and different types of crops in the rider’s hands. I have been to many upper level and lower level cross-country events and at least once I have seen a rider “get rough” with these “aids” in some manner. It isn’t acceptable. We could argue about “good” contact all day, but my question still stands: what are the spurs, whips/crops, and bits for if you have such a good partnership with your horse?

Why would you ever need those things to “communicate” “jump this massive fence at a gallop with me on your back?” Perhaps it’s because in the absence of these “aids” the horse would have a much easier time of saying “no” and there goes the “connection” between man and horse.

I watched the video and read the Tumblr entry you discussed in your post. Based on the definition of “vegan,” a person who follows this philosophy does not consume any animal products for any reason in any manner whether that is strictly for ethical, health, or other reasons. Hence, riding is not vegan because a human being would be taking something from the horse (energy, a place to sit, engaging the horse as a vehicle for transportation, etc.) and the horse rarely gets anything positive from the experience of being ridden. The viewpoint is clear and there isn’t anything inherently wrong with it either. If there is something inherently wrong with not riding a horse because it is unnecessary or unethical or whatever, please enlighten me.

I am not vegan and though I do not ride anymore for the reason that it is harmful to the horse’s well-being, believe me when I say I miss riding horses. I grew up riding and it is something that’s ingrained in my soul for better or for worse. But I have learned that to ride a horse is selfish on my part. I don’t need to ride a horse for any other reason than enjoyment. And when there is overwhelming research to show that riding can harm the horse physically, physiologically, emotionally, mentally, and/or psychologically what reason is there that justifies riding? I do not believe that the research snippets in the video are incorrect even if they may need some more fleshing-out and additional research.

I am vegetarian and I do not necessarily equate not eating meat with not riding. However, I think that equestrian competition is exploitation of the horse for human gain at the cost of prohibiting the horse from expressing free will to not participate (and not be punished for the refusal). Competition impacts the horse negatively in many respects and should not be supported. Absolutely any equestrian competition is harmful to the horse.

British Eventing Horsetrials

There should never be a situation where, if a fence is not ridden or jumped perfectly, the horse does a rotational fall.

Let me take your pet or dog ownership thoughts into account as well. So we say our animals love us, yeah? So same thing as above with the spurs, whips and bits on horses, why do we need leashes and collars for dogs? (I would concede that typically the leash and collar aren’t used in the same manner as the bit and spurs, but that they can be used with severity.) If humans had true partnerships with their dogs (and some do) then we shouldn’t need leashes or collars. When you get down to the bare minimum of the uses for the items used on a horse and the items used on a dog they are each used in a manner consistent with control of the animal. The leash and collar keep the dog from running off and the bit, whip and spurs force the horse to do our bidding when we get on his back.

Further, just because horses could carry 25% of their bodyweight on their back (by what study by the way?) does not mean it is designed to do so. Again, living beings are not designed for a purpose. Do you even know exactly why you exist on earth? I can’t even pretend to know that. Studies have also shown that when a horse bares a rider on its back for more than 15 minutes of work this can cause the horse immediate soft tissue damage and pain. If you know of a study that cleanly refutes this please post it. Please refer to the Nevzorov Haute Ecole’s website for information on the study I noted here.

While “going for a trail ride” hardly sounds like abuse, if the horse doesn’t have a choice in the matter then this doesn’t make it ok. Just because you don’t think you’re harming the horse does not mean that you aren’t. If you love and cherish your horse why would you take this risk?

In the “death to carnism” blog, the author does not advocate turning horses loose in the wild. The author states that this would be irresponsible. That is another discussion for another time as well.

You’re right about humans harming other animals no matter what considering the world we live in, but this is not a free pass to just hop on a horse and ride it. That’s a hypocritical point Cavalia Odysseo Horseof view. If you know you are harming the horse, why would you ride it? If you don’t know, you shouldn’t ride, and you should study-up.

Just because PETA thinks it’s ok to ride horses does not make it suddenly ok to do so. This organization has been discredited on many fronts for many different reasons. Take a look at this Huffington Post opinion piece from 2013 if you are certain you support them: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-j-winograd/peta-kills-puppies-kittens_b_2979220.html. (I am not saying they are entirely horrible because I really just don’t know. But I’m willing to bet since the Huffington Post still has this up on their website they haven’t lost a lawsuit on facts.)

Finally, if we humans must abide by “consent,” as in, “no, means no,” but we do not afford this to other animals for one reason or another than as humans we are taking a step backwards. No one being is superior to others – they all need to exist for this planet to be whole. In addition, though I am not a representative for Alexander Nevzorov’s Haute Ecole, I understand that while he did ride horses for a while he did so without the use of any restraint of the horse’s head. Since that time he has expressed that he feels riding is unethical altogether and does not teach riding or condone it. Instead he teaches a way to have a meaningful relationship with the horse on the ground without pain or force at all.”

Tack room for the lippizaners 2MY RESPONSE:

First I think we need to define what veganism is – the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products. Some vegans have taken to extending their philosophy in all manner of ways in which the originator cannot have foreseen.  I can’t imagine how we can consider the “energy” of a horse as a product of that animal unless that is what one understands to be covered by “ethical veganism.” Vegetarians on the other hand, still consume some animals products, including dairy, eggs, cheese, gelatin, honey, etc. I have to say honestly that I am baffled as to why taking “energy” from a horse seems to be so objectionable to you while consuming dairy or eggs is apparently less so. The demand for dairy has very tangible effects on the cows and calves in that industry, and chickens suffer immensely to produce eggs, much more easily measurable and quantifiable than any presumptive abuse to horses resulting  from conventional riding.

I do want to affirm a lot of what you’ve written about various horse sports being cruel or inhumane to horses. I do agree that the cross-country phase of eventing at both the international level or at Pony Club are highly dangerous, along with other “sports” such as racing, rodeo, chuckwagon races, jumps racing, and numerous cultural events are all either blatantly cruel to horses or stretch them beyond their reasonable capabilities. I wrote more about the broad abuses of horses in another blog post.  Cross-country courses challenge horses with drop fences, where the horse can’t anticipate that he has to leap straight down, and water jumps compel horses to jump then while not knowing the depth. Until recently, obstacles did not break-away, causing serious falls and injuries (if not death) to both horse and rider. Courses are, IMO far too long and even when horses are matched to an ideal course, they can only run and jump for so long before they are exhausted or injured. Any event where you have significantly less than 100% of the participants fail to complete a course is too strenuous and risky.

We know that not all high-level riders in all disciplines ride with empathy, as shown in the following video:

I don’t agree with you that whenever a mistake is made on a course it is rider’s error. Even a correctly balanced rider’s weight causes the horse to strain to overcome gravity. The horse needs greater impulsion to clear the weight over the fence, possibly over-extending himself on the other side of the jump. A tired horse builds up lactic acid in his muscles and is more likely to sustain injury. Horses can also dehydrate and tie-up even with the most competent riders. I did actually link to a study in the original blog post that concluded that healthy, fit horses could comfortably carry up to 25% of their body weight (saddle and rider) which supports my contention that horses are not physically compromised by the weight of most riders. The ability of an animal to lift weight (whether ant, cockroach, or horse) is determined by the relationship between surface area and body mass. Ants can also lift 50 times their own weight even though they might not need to. Obviously, other factors to consider in matching the horse to the sport are size and weight, condition, fitness, conformation, attitude, ability of a saddle to distribute weight properly, ability and weight of the rider, distance travelled while riding, type of terrain, and temperature/weather conditions.

lipizzaner in stall with marble basinWhips, spurs and bits are not automatically torturous. I don’t use spurs and I don’t think most riders do either.  I don’t use a whip except in driving where it must be carried in case the horse backs up into a hazard such as a car, child, or edge or a ravine. The driving whip is used to take the place of the leg aid and is used to signal that a bend is asked for or a change of direction is forthcoming. The floppy end of a driving whip taps the horse with the same pressure as flicking a shoelace on your arm. And if you’re going to have a bit there is a range that are considered good and humane by most riders and clinicians. I don’t believe that halters cause a horse any pain. Most higher level dressage riders use spurs subtly, but their use by less skilled riders is apt to be punitive or abusive.

You claim that there is overwhelming research that riding harms horses “physically, physiologically, emotionally, mentally, and/or psychologically?” You didn’t provide any evidence for this to prove your point. I have seen some vegan sites post a link to research that consisted of evaluating a horse’s back for Kissing Spine, otherwise known as impinging spinal processes in the back, which is largely congenital. One vegan blogger cited it as a condition she assumed was directly caused by riding. I tried to correct the assumption, but it seems she was too cowardly to moderate my post. Impinging spinal processes need to be evaluated to determine whether a horse can be ridden, and as you know, horses will absolutely tell you when they are in pain.

Humans are self-legislative, morally autonomous beings. It does not follow from this that we are morally free to do anything we please to animals. However, if we required permission from Cavalia carouselan animal to take any action on their behalf then we could not spay or neuter them, walk them on leashes for their own safety, nor could we anaesthetize them to clean their teeth, vaccinate them, keep them on leashes safe from traffic, trim their hooves, or euthanize them when terminally ill. If we choose not to do any of these things because we don’t have permission, then we’re missing the point of being ethical and compassionate human beings.

Alexander Nevzorov is simply another clinician, one who has attracted a cult following. Quite frankly, he makes my head explode. Because he has attracted extremists, he thrives in that environment and turns off people who are interested in his methods but not the extremist attitude. He and his followers won’t allow discussion of other methods. He is in favour of abolishing equine use (and equines) period. There are a number of other things that Nevzorov is also quite strident about that do not fit with my concept of good and ethical horse welfare. His videos depict all the worst aspects of riding that many horse people would like to abolish – racing, rollkur, over-horsed riders balancing themselves on the bit, sometimes with nervous, perhaps improperly trained horses, rodeo, etc. The videos imply that this is the norm.

Nevzorov and his wife are even opposed to improvements in horse sport because to them it means they won’t be able to abolish it as soon as they would like. This is rather comparable to being opposed to the discontinuation of gestation crates for pigs while waiting and hoping that people will stop eating meat. They are opposed to the use of the Dr. Cook bitless bridle. They also have no interest in rescuing horses, possibly since they feel that the sooner horses become extinct as a species, the better. They are opposed to any breeding of horses at all, which again means in their world the domesticated horse is an extinct horse.

You make the assumption that before he stopped riding horses he rode without confining the horse’s head with a bridle. This is not true. Nevzorov rode horses in the traditional manner with saddle and double bridle. There are numerous pictures of him on the web using traditional horse tack which often included whip and spurs. What most of his followers don’t know is that the horses you see him performing with were all trained traditionally under saddle and with a double bridle, whip, and spurs.   If he can accomplish the same level of training with a totally green horse and without resorting to any other methods but what he’s condoning now, I’d be impressed. While I agree with many of his statements about whips, harsh bits, rough handling, etc. he claims to have taught his horses to understand Latin (which is really a written rather than spoken language). This is crackpottery of the highest order.

Horse with RibbonsFew if any people will listen to him and quit riding horses to work exclusively in hand with them. No one will pay to board a horse only to walk it on a lead, thinking they can teach it Latin. No one is going to build an arena and house horses in it to watch them self-collect. Amazingly though, Nevzorov, his wife and their followers all believe that the equine industry would continue on and develop in the same way, but with non-ridden horses. He also claims that it is “legally acceptable to claim moral damage which is caused to children, who’s mental health is endangered while participating in “sport activities” which considers the cruel treatment of a living being to be normal.”

PeTA’s endorsement of horse riding is relevant since they are probably the most radical of the major animal rights/welfare groups (ASPCA/HSUS/MFA etc). Some of Nathan Winograd’s Huffington Post pieces have been shared over 100,000 times by many people who never question the veracity of his claims about PeTA. The “PeTA Kills Animals” phenomenon was a hoax perpetrated by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a deceitful outfit that protects the interests of animal enterprise industries. They created the hoax to mitigate PeTA’s impact on their meat and biomedical industry clients’ profit margins. Not so admirably, others have jumped on the “PeTA Kills Animals” bandwagon to mitigate that organization’s impact on their agendas. Nathan Winograd falls into this category. Rather than address head-on PeTA’s concerns about dangerous and ineffective “No Kill” initiatives, Winograd uses the “PeTA Kills Animals” meme to change the conversation. Unfortunately, for animals in many “No Kill” shelters and rescues, PeTA’s concerns that the “No Kill” movement is causing them harm appear to be valid.

Nezvorov

Alexander Nevzorov back in the day when he rode horses, using a bridle, dressage crop, and spurs.

The “Why PeTA Euthanizes” website has compiled detailed information on PeTA euthanization and exposes Nathan Winograd as someone who takes liberty with the truth. Indeed, Winograd spends far more time critiquing other animal welfare organizations than he does in promoting No Kill. It’s a fact that nearly every animal PeTA has euthanized was admitted into their care by their owner. Virginia (home of PeTA’s shelter) shelter stats are public information. PETA’s shelter reporting data is freely available online, despite Winograd’s classification of these records as “secret.” This shelter is one of last resort and they offer no-cost euthanasia in the impoverished area their shelter serves. This video, produced by PETA last year, goes into quite some detail about the animals they served in their shelter in 2013. Mary Tully, the curator of the “Why PeTA Euthanizes,” site, writes:

“The small, hands-on facility at PeTA’s Norfolk headquarters isn’t a traditional animal shelter, but by comparing it to one, PeTA’s detractors are able to make it seem like PeTA’s euthanasia “numbers” are very high and somehow very bad. PeTA’s shelter operates for the primary purpose of providing no-cost, humane, veterinarian-supervised, medical euthanasia to suffering community animals who require it. This service is offered on an emergency on-call basis only, and it’s not advertised in any way.

PeTA’s Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services animal reporting data and shelter inspection reports confirm that nearly every animal PeTA receives for euthanasia is received from his or her guardian for this service. There is no indication that these guardians aren’t acting in their animals’ best interests by requesting this service from PeTA’s shelter, or that it’s in any of their best interests not to be immediately euthanized.

Though Virginia veterinarians may offer the service of owner-requested euthanasia to the public, the fees are simply out of reach for many Hampton Roads citizens. The average cost of veterinarian-provided euthanasia in the area, as of this writing, is $25 per pound of animal body weight, not including additional costs for cremation services. Affordable Veterinarian Services of Virginia’s fees start at $295 for the procedure itself, with an additional fee of $132 for their cremation service.

Prince Harry excessive spur use

Polo is another extreme sport – here, Prince Harry draws blood with his spurs.

Virginia’s State Veterinarian, Dr. Dan Kovich, DVM, MPH, acknowledged the gap, during our recent interview. “There are several communities that are underserved by veterinarians, or don’t have access to a veterinarian at all,” Kovich stated. “Shelters that offer owner-requested euthanasia are providing a valuable service to the community,” he further explained.

Most of PeTA’s community work involves helping to improve the quality of life for outdoor dogs and keeping community animals who are in good homes, in those good homes. PeTA served over 6,000 outdoor dogs last year in ways that were meaningful to them. Because PeTA never takes custody of those animals, they aren’t accounted for in their state animal reporting data. Neither are the over 11,000 community animals PeTA spayed and neutered last year in their free and low-cost mobile clinics. PeTA served over 17,000 animals in 2013 who went on to have happy, healthy lives, but because they don’t appear on the animal reporting summaries, they’re unfairly absent from conversations about the work PeTA does.”

Winograd was so deceptive in his HuffPo articles on PeTA, that he was served with a Cease and Desist letter. Similarly, another Huff Po Blogger who wrote extensively and critically of PeTA, Douglas giant shire horsesAnthony Cooper, also acknowledges receiving a C&D. PeTA also took action against posters hiding behind anonymous profiles libelling them on HuffPo, which may have contributed to HuffPo’s decision to abandon anonymous commenting on their site in favour of the Facebook social plug-in. In short, there is little reliable information about PeTAs practices to be found on the Huffington Post at all.

So Lauren,  my belief is that one should ride lightly, cue as lightly as possible, less is more, and critical thinking needs to be employed when reading these articles. When people specialize in extremism, they expend massive energy in conflict with other groups who are quite close to their ethical position: they are fighting over the little things, and losing the battle against the rest of the world. This is true for both Nevzorov and Winograd. I don’t know about Nevzorov,  but try politely disagreeing with Winograd on his Facebook page and he will lecture and then ban you immediately.  That’s one reason Parelli and Rashid and other clinicians are so successful – we may not like all of their teachings but they preach to the middle of the roadists. Whoever captures the middle ground will have the greatest support base and opportunity to improve conditions for horses. The extreme groups are left to fight over the margins. Nevzorov and Winograd both have valid points, but I’m not interested in personality cults.

Cheers,  He@ther

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Why Do Animal Abusers Hate The HSUS?

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humanewatchWritten by:  John Doppler Schiff and reprinted with permission

The HSUS is under attack by animal abusing industries. These industries claim the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States)  is inefficient, ineffective, and incompetent.

But if this was true, why would animal abusers spend tens of millions of dollars annually on dishonest smear campaigns to attack the HSUS?  If the HSUS was truly ineffective, wouldn’t animal abusers be perfectly happy to have such an incompetent opponent?

The truth is that the HSUS is the nation’s largest and most effective animal welfare organization, with a staggeringly long list of accomplishments — and animal abusers are terrified of what they’ve accomplished on behalf of the animals.

Here’s a small, incomplete sampling of what the HSUS does:

 

  • HSUS donated $3000 to the first non-lethal deer population management program in Virginia.
  • HSUS played a pivotal role in securing the defunding of horse slaughter for 2014.
  • HSUS exposed Kenneth Schroeder, a “random source” dealer selling dogs to laboratories for cruel experiements.  Schroeder’s license was subsequently revoked by the USDA.
  • Two endangered tortoises were rescued and rehomed by the HSUS.
  • Cheesecake Factory commenced the phase-out of gestation crates from its suppliers.
  • Humane Society of Charlotte and the HSUS teamed up to rescue 23 dogs from a North Carolina puppy mill.
  • Glee star Lea Michele and the HSUS ask NY legislature to regulate puppy mills more aggressively.  In January of 2014, Gov. Cuomo signs the bill into law.
  • An HSUS investigation exposed 116 Horse Protection Act citations assessed against the board of Tennessee’s Walking Horse Trainers Association.
  • HSUS filed a formal complaint with the USDA demanding enforcement action against more than 50 commercial dog breeders operating illegally.
  • Aubrey Organics joined the HSUS’ Be Cruelty Free campaign to end animal testing for cosmetics.
  • Safeway pledged to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
  • HSUS launched a successful PSA campaign urging citizens to report animal abuse.
  • HSUS provided the USDA with evidence of AWA violations by a research facility in Georgia, culminating in a $26,000 fine.
  • HSUS investigation exposed disease, neglect, and cruelty at unregulated flea markets.
  • Business Ethics Network bestowed two awards on the HSUS for its campaign to reform factory farm cruelty.
  • HSUS successfully presented testimony to prevent the return of a puppy to the pet store owner who abused him.
  • HSUS’ Duchess Sanctuary completed construction on a new hospital barn.
  • HSUS reports exposed inhumane and unsafe conditions in three Maryland roadside zoos exhibiting dangerous exotic animals.
  • Binghamton University joined the Meatless Monday campaign, with great success.
  • HSUS warned consumers about falsely labeled “faux fur” garments containing rabbit fur, sold at Kohl’s.
  • Infamous Chino slaughterhouse and Westland Meat Packing Co. slapped with $155,684,827.00 judgment — the largest animal cruelty penalty ever assessed — following HSUS investigation that revealed abuse of downer cattle at the facility.
  • 40 dogs and 75 cats, miniature ponies, rabbits, and chickens rescued from NC pet mill.
  • HSUS and Red Barn launch a leash and collar drive for pet owners in underserved communities.
  • HSUS and Front Range Equine Rescue filed suits to block horse slaughter plants from opening.
  • 31 dogs seized from dogfighting operations in Alabama thanks to a joint effort between law enforcement, HSUS, and local humane societies.
  • Cracker Barrel shareholders voted to support the HSUS proposal to eliminate gestation crates from the company’s supply chain.
  • Papa John’s pledged to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
  • Prop 204 passed in Arizona, eliminating veal and gestation crates.
  • Prop 2 passed in CA, ensuring that poultry will not suffer in cages smaller than a sheet of letter sized paper their entire lives.
  • 200 pit bulls rescued from the largest recorded dog fighting ring.
  • 43 horses rescued from neglect in Lindale, TX.
  • $600,000 grant from HSUS used to build a shelter in Jackson, LA.
  • Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 recriminalized crush videos.
  • 5,700 fighting dogs and roosters rescued from animal fighting rings in 2009.
  • Over forty emergency deployments for large-scale rescue of animals in 2009.
  • More than 10,000 animals rescued in emergency deployments in 2009.
  • 1800 tortoises saved from being buried alive in Florida construction.
  • 1.8 million cows in California will NOT have their tails cruelly amputated without anesthetic this year thanks to the HSUS.bullshit
  • 3,000+ puppies rescued from mass breeding facilities in 2009.
  • 461 more pet stores agree to not sell puppy mill dogs in 2009.
  • 50th reward paid for information leading to the arrest of animal fighting rings in 2009.
  • 14 laws to protect wildlife passed in 2009.
  • Cockfighting now illegal in all 50 states.
  • 150+ retailers and fashion designers have agreed to go fur-free.
  • Criminal abuse of cows at Conklin Dairy exposed and stopped.
  • Chino slaughterhouse putting dying “downer” cattle into schools’ food supply, exposed and stopped.
  • 8,057 animals treated for free in under-served areas in 2009.
  • 4,300 homeowners advised on the humane removal of wildlife in 2009.
  • 23,000+ low-cost spay and neuter surgeries in the Gulf Coast in 2009.
  • 120 cats rescued from a hoarder in Tennessee in 2010.
  • 40,000+ pets spayed and a quarter million dollars raised for spay/neuter programs during Spay Day 2009.
  • 90 dogs rescued from a New Jersey puppy mill in 2010.
  • 89 state laws protecting pets passed in 2009.
  • HSUS sends relief personnel to Haiti for disaster assistance in 2009.
  • 1300 animals have found refuge in HSUS’ Black Beauty Ranch.
  • Maine phasing out cruel intensive confinement systems.
  • Michigan phasing out cruel intensive confinement systems.
  • 49 starving horses rescued in West Virginia in 2010.
  • 8,320 animals treated by HSUS veterinarians in 2010.
  • Kraft switched one million eggs to cage-free.
  • Hellman’s adopted cage-free eggs.
  • Subway phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Carnival Cruise Lines phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Ohio’s agriculture industry agreed to phase out veal crates and gestation crates by 2015.
  • HSUS transported 100+ dogs from overwhelmed Gulf Coast shelters to NJ and DC.
  • HSUS holds Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales accountable for mislabeling fur garments.
  • 2000 pet rats rescued from a hoarder in Southern California.
  • Truth in Fur Labeling Act signed into law.
  • HSUS information leads to seizure of 100 roosters from a cockfight ring in Dallas, TX.
  • Undercover video reveals horrific conditions at Smithfield Farms.
  • HSUS distributes 30+ grants to equine rescues as part of American Competitive Trail Horse Association’s fundraiser.
  • HSUS exposes Neiman Marcus sale of dog fur labeled as “raccoon”.
  • D.C. Superior Court rules that Neiman Marcus violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Act by falsely labeling fur garments.
  • Pepsi fans overwhelmingly vote to award HSUS a $250,000 grant to provide veterinary assistance to animals in underserved communities.
  • After years of friction, the USDA agrees to appoint an ombudsman and improve oversight of the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
  • 1,000th pet store joins HSUS’ Puppy Friendly Pet Store campaign, agreeing not to sell puppies.
  • HSUS exposes sale of dog fur labeled as “fake fur” at Barney’s, in NY.
  • Shark Conservation Act signed into law, prohibiting fishermen from cutting the fins off sharks and throwing them back into the water to die horribly.
  • Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman adopts cage-free egg policy.
  • Federal Court of Appeals upholds an HSUS request to stop the slaughter of sea lions at Bonneville Dam on the Oregon/Washington border.
  • HSUS exposes inhumane conditions at Willmar Poultry Company, the nation’s largest turkey hatchery.
  • HSUS and Multnomah County Animal Services provide 40 animal crates to the American Red Cross’ Emergency Warming Center in Portland, OR.
  • HSUS rescues 2500 rats as part of a hoarder intervention in San Jose, CA.  The rescue was featured on Season Three of A&E’s documentary, “Hoarders”.
  • On behalf of the Human Toxicology Project Consortium, HSUS coordinates a national symposium on modernizing the testing of chemicals in laboratories and reducing the role of animal testing.
  • HSUS town hall in Lincoln, NE opens meaningful discussion of agricultural issues with Nebraska farmers.
  • Wheaton, IL adopts non-lethal coyote deterrents instead of trapping and killing.
  • HSUS investigation of Bushway Packing leads to conviction on charges of animal cruelty.
  • 550 prairie dogs resettled, rescued from poisoning in Thunder Basin, WY.
  • 14 turkeys find sanctuary at HSUS’ Black Beauty Ranch in TX.
  • BermansVerminPhotographer Robbie Bellon photographs 25 adopted and rescued dogs of 25 celebrities to benefit the HSUS’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.
  • St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, WI switches to cage-free eggs.
  • HSUS and the Kislak Family Fund present a $25,000 grant to the Florida College of Veterinary Medicine for a program to benefit injured and ill shelter animals.
  • HSUS and Ellen Degeneres celebrate and raise awareness of shelters with the annual Shelter Appreciation Week, held the first week of each November.
  • HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center expands with the addition of a new animal hospital for wildlife rehabilitation.
  • Prop 109, an anti-animal, anti-voter initiative, is defeated in Arizona.
  • Fred Meyer Jewelers creates the Pawsitively Yours line of jewelry to benefit the HSUS’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.
  • HSUS grants help Second Chance Animal Shelter of Brookfield, MA finish renovations after thieves steal building materials.
  • HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center releases a harrier back into the wild after 8 weeks of care and rehabilitation.
  • The Coats for Cubs program repurposes old fur coats to aid and comfort wildlife.
  • Wal-Mart’s private label eggs are now cage-free.
  • HSUS helps persuade Sara Lee to switch to cage-free eggs.
  • Orphaned raccoons raised and rehabilitated by HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center are released into the wild.
  • Medford, OR bakery, Harry & David, joins the growing cage-free movement.
  • Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust establishes the Greenspring Wildlife Sanctuary, a permanent,  protected, 154-acre wildlife habitat in Ashland, OR.
  • Minnesota cat killer’s felony conviction on animal cruelty is upheld in State of Minnesota v. Ajalon Thomas Corcoran.
  • Virgin America airlines switch to cage-free eggs.
  • HSUS exposes the worst puppy mills in the “Missouri Dirty Dozen” report.
  • HSUS teams up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, donating forensic investigation equipment to crack down on poaching.
  • Valley Hospital of Ridgewood, NJ joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • Union Hospital of Cecil County, MD joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • St. Paul’s School of Concord, NH joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust establishes a 30-acre permanent wildlife habitat, the Ogden Wildlife Sanctuary, in Leon County, TX.
  • Pennsylvania joins the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, a nationwide law enforcement network of 36 states to prevent criminal poachers from hunting in other states.
  • Pennsylvania signs HSUS-supported HB1859 into law, introducing felony penalties for poachers who are repeat offenders.
  • HSUS transports 10 pit bulls rescued from Ohio fighting rings to the Washington Animal Rescue League.
  • Barilla becomes the first pasta manufacturer to join the cage-free egg movement, switching 45% of its supply to cage-free in 2011.
  • HSUS investigates and exposes bear baiting in South Carolina, the only state to tolerate this cruelty.
  • Thanks to the efforts of HSUS, Animal Protection of New Mexico, Jane Goodall, Gov. Bill Richardson, and more, 186 chimpanzees were saved from further invasive medical testing in New Mexico.
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission votes unanimously to ban fox penning.
  • HSUS rescued more than 90 dogs from a Montana hoarder.
  • HSUS assisted in the rescue of 118 dogs from a breeder in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
  • On behalf of local residents, HSUS took legal action against the Olivera Egg Ranch for noxious pollution emanating from that factory farm.
  • HSUS and Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue took custody of 17 horses formerly destined for slaughter.
  • HSVMA launched a petition urging Congress to phase out the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
  • Loyola Marymount University switched all eggs on campus to cage-free eggs
  • 36 Pet Food Express stores took the “Puppy Friendly Pet Store” pledge.
  • HSUS rescues 170 cats rescued from hoarders in Powell, WY; no reimbursement is requested for the capture, processing, treatment, and transport of the cats.

And that’s just a drop in the bucket.

Don’t fall for misinformation from the ignorant and the cruel.  

Get the facts from a reputable source.

cheering_minions

 

Spontaneous Combustion – A Brief History of the Grassroots Anti-Horse Slaughter Movement

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I’m a relatively new advocate against horse slaughter.  Although I was an equestrian,  I never frequented auctions and kept my horses well into their retirement years.  I never sold a horse to anyone either. So I was sheltered from the reality that an entire industry existed to brutally kill horses.  I didn’t know of any other method to deal with an unwanted, infirm,  or terminally ill horse other than humane euthanasia,  which I thought everyone partook of. In late 2010 my world view sure changed abruptly when I found out that some could shoot a horse a dozen times in the head with a captive bolt and still call it “humane.”

I launched myself into the issues of horse slaughter when the TV show “Top Chef” featured an episode with horsemeat,  which led to my first blog post and my subsequent adventures protesting against restaurants in Toronto serving horsemeat.  So although I feel I have a fairly good grasp of the lawsuits,  secret deals, and defunding provisions of the present-day American (and Canadian) slaughter industry (at least from late 2010,  when I became active in this issue), I’ve struggled with the historical aspect of horse slaughter,  because I don’t have any reference points earlier than that year.

When I’m faced with an issue that happened pre-2010,  I realize that I don’t know much about the mechanics of the grassroots anti-slaughter movement that preceded this time.  While I know that there have been conscientious objectors to horse slaughter for decades,  I admit to not knowing a lot about the history of horse activism after Wild Horse Annie was active. Velma Bronn Johnston (March 1912 — June 1977)  led a campaign to stop the removal of wild mustangs and burros from public lands. She was instrumental in passing legislation to stop using aircraft and land vehicles to capture wild horses and burros and to cease branding and causing their death.

Wild Horse Annie’s grassroots campaign involved mostly school children, and it outraged the public and ultimately got them fully engaged in the the exploitation of wild horses and burros.  Most slaughterphiles believe that HSUS and PeTA drove the campaign through the 90s and early 2000’s,  (and every other year too, because they automatically attribute every animal welfare advancement to them) but there were other groups and individuals who played key roles and made many inroads,  sometimes with great personal sacrifices.

horse frieze2John Holland  of the Equine Welfare Alliance put together a short perspective,  which he wrote in March 2011,  in attempt to identify those people and groups who had historically been responsible for much  of the anti-slaughter movement and the closure of the US plants.  I’m sure John wanted to dispel the all-too-frequent and biased dialogue from the slaughterphiles that HSUS and PeTA are wholly responsible for launching the anti-slaughter movement in the U.S.  John briefly breaks down the progression of the movement in the US during the 1990s point-by-point, in general chronological order (although it cannot possibly be all-inclusive).

These are John’s words:

“I hate to provide such a brief recounting of the battle, because I will only be able to mention a few folks out of the hundreds who deserve mention. But here goes…

  • The California law was the work of Cathleen Doyle and the California Equine Council who started the “Save the Horses” campaign that eventually led to Proposition 6 and the slaughter ban in California in 1998.
  • Humane Farming did one of the most powerful early videos inside a horse slaughter plant which galvanized a lot of the early opposition to slaughter.
  • Rescues began forming in increasing numbers to try to save horses from slaughter during the late 90s. In time, these became more active in opposing slaughter.
  • The Texas plants were closed largely as the result of a woman named Mary Nash. Mary owned a horse farm adjoining the Dallas Crown plant property and originally started the web site called Kaufmanzoning.net to try to get the plant closed. She watched the beautiful horses being brutally killed every day and it spurred her into action.
  • Mary had friends, including Mayor Paula Bacon, Jerry Finch (Habitat for Horses and Julie Caramante (HfH), now with EWA) who became involved and they teamed up with folks from the Boggy Bottom neighborhood.
  • They studied Texas law trying to find something to use to stop the plant. That is how the 1949 law was discovered. They went to the State Attorney General who took some time to determine that the lhorse friezeaw was in fact still in effect. He ordered the plants to close.
  • Meanwhile, the Kaufman Board of Adjustments ordered the plant to close because of its countless sewer and other health violations. The plant managed to tie that order up in court and to stay open.
  • Mary died of cancer before the plants were closed but she fought them to the very last day she drew breath. Her web site is still the best single repository for information about the struggle.
  • The plants filed a suit against the State of Texas to stay open and got a TRO (temporary restraining order) for a considerable time.
  • During the early 2000’s the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) had worked to introduce the first federal anti-slaughter bills. They also helped start one of the first national anti-slaughter web groups called “Against Slaughter” which is still active today.
  • In Illinois, Gail Vacca (a TB trainer) and her friends worked on Illinois legislation that failed the first time it was introduced. AWI worked relatively closely with Gail and others.
  • HSUS first became significantly involved in 2006 as I recall. In fact, they were a relative late comer to the battle. By then, even I had been in it for 4 years.
  • The two Texas plants had a TRO (pending a Supreme Court appeal) at the time of their closings, but it was us advocates who discovered it did not cover the Airlines hauling the meat and when we passed this to HSUS, horses in art ink drawingthey got the Airlines to stop shipping and the plants closed. Their appeal was eventually refused by the Supreme Court, closing the issue.
  • AWI and DDAL (Doris Day Animal League) also sued the Illinois Cavel plant for its sewage discharge violations. That suit was based on records uncovered by a different group of folks who were working in DeKalb studying plant’s operations. That suit never got to court because the state law closed them first.
  • PETA has never taken an active role, partially because the anti-slaughter community asked them not to (for fear they would bring their enemies to the battle). Of course, pro-slaughter people could not leave them out, so they have continually argued that PETA is behind everything.
  • PETA took an undercover video of horse slaughter in Japan, but that is about their only participation.”

Thank you, John Holland……I’m glad to have some of these gaps filled in for me.  Now, when I see some of these names on the internet,  I’ll be able to better associate the participants with their actions.  The individual people identified in John’s post serve to remind us that anyone can become a champion if they possess tenacity and perseverance. There are dozens of horse advocacy groups I can think of now that probably sprung out of the efforts by these individuals and groups.  And a few “dark-sided” ones emerged that we all wish we could forget…..

Passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act will reduce animal suffering, hence its wide support throughout the equestrian and veterinary world, as well as the humane community.  This bill would ban horse slaughter in the United States, while ensuring American horses are not exported to Canada or Mexico for the same purpose. Please take action to get S.A.F.E passed!

safe

© Jolanda Beima

“People lie.  And for so many years they’ve been lying about this horse slaughter plant.  They’ve been saying, ‘Oh, all the horses over there   are old and sick and crippled.’  Well that’s not right.  They’re just saying that so that nobody will question what they do.”   ~ Mary Nash ~ RIP

A Tale of Two Polls…..

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Not old, skinny, crazy, or broken down.

Written By: Heather Clemenceau

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

Like the ever present threat of “la guillotine” in Dickens’ novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” horses in the United States are again living under the spectre of horse slaughter in Oklahoma.  Ring-boned political opportunists, who are full of the stuff that we spread on the fields in the spring, have passed this legislation with nary a debate.  It’s quite painful to listen to the “debate” of HB 1999 in the Oklahoma legislature since Republican sponsor Skye McNiel continued to claim that only horses that are starved and are almost dead are the ones to be slaughtered.   What can we say about a Senator who even claimed that slaughter will prevent such atrocities as horses dying slowly of broken legs, an observation he made while watching a horse in a neighbouring pasture suffer for 30 days before it died.   Is this not akin to watching a felony transpire over 30 days but doing nothing to intervene?  The only mention of drugs in horsemeat in any part of the debate of the bill came in the form of a claim that it’s “out of the system in 21 days.”  Who knew there were so many toxicologists in the Oklahoma legislature?

We now know that the devil is not in the details any longer. The devil now resides in the sound bite.

In that vein,  two contrasting polls on horse slaughter have recently emerged from embattled Oklahoma.  The palpably ridiculous survey by the conservative McCarville survey-questions-dumb-penguinReport claims that Oklahoma farmers and veterinarians almost universally supported horse slaughter in Oklahoma.   It’s a ploy to convince people that there is support for horse slaughter beyond the special interest groups who commissioned it.  I wrote previously about the Lake Research survey on horse slaughter opinions in the United States a few months ago, and I explained why it represents responsible data-gathering.  The McCarville survey is so egregious that it requires some response, regardless of how burned out on the topic of Oklahoma corruption and cronyism we might feel.

The narrative accompanying the survey describes how the poll was made to wildly fluctuate AFTER responses originally opposed horse slaughter:

“While it had a 14-point disadvantage when originally asked, the support flipped in favor of horse slaughter and processing after the survey respondent heard the opinions of Oklahoma agricultural experts compared to those of national animal rights groups. The issue was then a +7.3 for horse slaughter. The survey found 43.3% more likely to support horse processing when it was explained that: The Oklahoma Farm Bureau and the state’s veterinarians say “horse processing is good for the environment and will dramatically reduce horse abandonment and neglect while national animal rights groups “oppose horse processing because they say it is cruel to slaughter animals.”  There were 36% who were still less likely to support it.”

Lost and Confused SignpostTrying to flip the results of the survey mid-survey is not all right and it’s not OK.  The survey was commissioned by Protect the Harvest, an Iowa group dedicated to opposing animal rights groups like the Humane Society of the United States.  This survey relies on methodologic slight of hand techniques in order to distract from the fact that the survey responses started out as being opposed to slaughter.   It violates one of the cardinal rules in conducting a survey, in that it asks a leading/loaded question (highlighted in bold above) that suggests to the respondent that the researcher expects a certain answer.

The term “leading question“ is most commonly referenced in the fields of psychology or law,  where evidence is inadmissible if the witness is given a hint of the answer in the question.  We are given no information as to how the poll was conducted or by whom.  There is no explanation as to the randomization methods, how the survey respondents were selected, nor the number of people surveyed, nor the number of standard deviations in the polling sample.  The Margin of Error of ± 4% leads us to believe that the sample size consists of about 500 people, since a properly conducted survey of 500 people will produce a MOE of no more than about 4.5 percent.  However, since there is no supporting documentation that includes, at the very least,  the number of people polled, I’m  calling bullshit on their MOE.

Whoever delivered the survey obviously knew that people are far more likely to agree with you if you tell them that they are on the side of the majority. This is why bogus statistics are so effective in moralizing survey responses. It’s a lot easier to say, “hey, most people agree with us” than try to Beltexconvince someone with facts.

Contrast the McCarville survey to  the Sooner poll,  where we can clearly see that it’s a sample of 452 people,  with an MOE ± 4.61%.  The complete survey methodology questions and responses are plainly laid out in 7 pages here.  The actual survey questions are unbiased and open-ended.  Here’s the conclusion:

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“A strong majority (66 percent) of Oklahoma likely voters opposes passage of proposed legislation allowing for the slaughter of horses here in Oklahoma, and of those that oppose, 88 percent strongly oppose the legislation, according to a new poll.

The Oklahoma legislature is currently considering two bills, House Bill 1999 and Senate Bill 375, which would allow for slaughter of horses here in Oklahoma for human consumption in other countries but would maintain a ban on the sale of horsemeat in the state.

A strong majority, 65.1 percent, of respondents in rural counties opposes the legislation, despite claims by the horse slaughter proponents that rural communities support it. Counties within the Tulsa MSA, 69.6 percent, and counties within the Oklahoma City MSA, 64.3 percent, also have high levels of opposition to horse slaughter.

Significant majorities of all political parties also oppose horse slaughter: 72.5 percent of Independents oppose this legislation, followed by 67.6 percent of Democrats and 63.4 percent of Republicans. Another strong majority, 60.5 percent, of conservative respondents, who make up more than half of all likely voters, is opposed to the horse slaughter legislation, as well as 74.7 percent of moderates.

When asked about having a horse slaughter operation in their community, an overwhelming majority, 72.3 percent, of likely voters is opposed, with 91.9 percent of these likely voters in strong opposition. Sixty-eight percent of rural likely voters oppose having a horse slaughter facility in their local community, followed by 74.6 percent of likely voters in the Tulsa metro area and 75.8 percent in the Oklahoma City metro.

A majority of likely voters, 54.1 percent, would be unlikely to vote to re-elect their senator or house representative if he or she voted in favor of this horse slaughter legislation regardless of whether or not it becomes law.

Voters were also asked about particular organizations. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and The Humane Society of the United States, two groups opposed to horse slaughter, received combined favorability (strongly and somewhat favorable) of 69.5 percent and 64.4 percent, respectively, from likely voters. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau, a group advocating for horse slaughter, had combined favorability among 63.4 percent of respondents.”

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Bill Shapard, the creator of the poll, was compelled to write to Governor Fallin:

“I write to you today to share with you results of our most recent polling regarding legislation to repeal the ban on horse slaughter in Oklahoma.

Given the rather fast pace this legislation has made its way through the legislature, my intent is to make sure that the collective voice of the voting public is heard and taken into consideration on this issue.

As Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, it is NOT my mission, directly or indirectly, to advocate for or against any particular legislation or public policy. While this particular poll was commissioned by two organizations that have taken a position on the legislation, I wrote the survey instrument with the full intent to ask a probability sample of likely voters unbiased questions and present both sides fairly.”

You can read the full PDF of his letter here.

301589_10200747012538403_257683231_nNational surveys repeatedly prove that 60-80 percent of Americans do not want horse slaughter to return to the US.  However, anti-animal groups and Oklahoma politicians such as Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon and Skye McNiel,  who co-sponsored House Bill 1999,  have conspired to demonize animal welfare and rights activists in a conscious strategy where such demagoguery is not only a political style but apparently a career path.  Several of the Oklahoma Facebook pages opposing animal welfare/rights and HSUS are being also operated by the Varners (Skye McNiel’s family). The two other main front groups mentioned in the McCarville report are the Oklahoma Farm Bureau (contact them here to cancel your insurance), and another Big-Ag mouthpiece, Protect the Harvest,  which is funded by billionaire Forrest Lucas of Lucas Oil fame. He has a cattle ranch in Missouri, where he bankrolled efforts to defeat puppy mill legislation that the Humane Society of the United States supported.  Ever since, PTH has taken the place of industry front group HumaneWatch in going after HSUS.

There will be little recognizable as compassion in the actions of the politicians or front groups who have paved the way for horse slaughter in the US.  They would like us all to believe that “aw shucks,  we’re just farmers,”  but In the past few weeks we’ve seen them set up fights with straw men rather than legitimate debate.   The Oklahomans Against HSUS Facebook page,  which has had at least 3 names changes in the last week,  even claims that a flash mob on House Speaker T.W. Shannon’s political page was initiated by HSUS,  when in fact the concept came from a small number of horse people and had nothing to do with any larger animal welfare group at all.  But perhaps they’re just trying to prove at long last that Okies can excel at something other than meth labs and drive-by shootings.

Please support the SAFE Act right now.

50 Shades of Black and Blue

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high fashion hermesWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

The discovery of Farida Khan, a notoriously abusive equestrian from Bangladesh, has surprised and disgusted the internet equestrian community. Several videos from her Facebook page went viral and prompted new pages calling for investigation into her animal handling practices.  She’s been reported to just about every agency imaginable,  including Stop-Crush.  While at first many of us were dismayed by her apparent lack of riding skills and overt cruelty towards her horses, it was soon realized that there was a seedy subtext at hand.  That’s because Farida deliberately whips her horses as sexual stimulation for a fetishistic audience, who urge her to “draw blood” and change the colour of her horse from “gray to red.”  You can check out her YouTube channel (under a fake name) here. Caution – I would say that most scenes depicted here are NSFW!

“Oh yes it definitely hurts them a lot and I enjoy seeing them suffering for my pleasure. Whipping and kicking is the best thing I like when I am astride it gives me a nice Farida Khan whippingfeel and its such a wonderful feeling to control such a beast.”

With very little effort it’s possible for one to discover that there exists an entire subculture where horses are either beaten into compliance with whips and spurs or ridden and stroked provocatively.  I knew about the “pony” fetish, where adults dress up as horses complete with bridles and saddles.  But the pony fetish is hardly something to get bent over, since it’s enjoyed by consenting adults and apparently no animals are involved.

Several of Farida’s “hard riding” videos are featured on the Horse Women Facebook page and clips4all website which I reviewed, just so you don’t have to!  There are the whipping and spurring videos that many of us have seen and condemned,  as well as videos of adult women riding mini horses while jerking on the reins and hitting them with crops.  The commentary that goes along reveals that the hitting of these small animals is designed to appeal to some sort of sadistic tendency in the viewer.  Clearly, these videos make us uncomfortable, in part, because they are designed to arouse and remind their audience that beating an animal is titillating.  But what’s also curious is that many of the people who favourited Farida’s horse abuse videos also have favourited classical dressage videos on YouTube as well.  They seem particularly drawn to Piaffe training.

Farida Khan Whipping 2Don’t get me wrong – I’m utterly disgusted by the whipping and excessive spur usage even if there is no sexualization of the practice.  But I also wonder what it is about regular dressage that attracts these same people to watch and favourite videos of Olympic, USEF, and WEG performances?  Farida Khan attracts a niche audience, and she brags about her dislike of horses and cruel treatment towards them.  She hits them multiple times for absolutely no reason, jerks on the bit, and turns them sharply as part of “training sessions.”  But if you want to see “accepted” torture of horses you don’t have to watch fetish videos.

Most horse owners would never abuse their horses, even out of ignorance.  But watch a few equestrian events and you can see whipping and spurring, along with horrendous combo bits or multiple apparatuses used on horses that are designed to force compliance or cause pain.  What is often accepted as “horsemanship” is often abuse that should not be permissible.

Thanks in part to  investigations by the Humane Society of the United States, the soring of Tennessee Walker horses —the intentional infliction of pain to their feet and legs to produce an exaggerated gait known as the “Big

Tennessee Walker Horse - Highly Artificial "Big Lick" Movement

Tennessee Walker Horse – Highly Artificial “Big Lick” Movement

Lick,”  has received international attention.  With H.R. 6388, the Horse Protection Act Amendments of 2012,  it is hoped that we can end the failed system of industry self-policing, ban the use of certain devices associated with soring, strengthen penalties, and hold accountable all those involved in this cruel practice.  An HSUS undercover investigation documented the prevalent use of caustic chemicals to sore horses and led to a 52-count indictment of Jackie McConnell, who pleaded guilty to one count of felony conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act, and three of his associates. In September, a federal court sentenced him to three years of probation and a $75,000 fine.  McConnell also faces prosecution for violations of the Tennessee animal cruelty statute.

Thanks to the Olympics, two other forms of horse abuse have been getting attention.  If you watched the 2012 Modern Pentathlon you know that competitors had to shoot, fence, run, swim, and ride a horse that they had never ridden before.  Because they have to do so much, you know they aren’t going to be particularly great at any of these sports, even though the competition must be gruelling.  These pentathletes certainly aren’t deliberately hurting their horses,  but virtually every rider in the modern pentathlon displayed all the polish of someone who learned to ride three months ago in a crash

The Modern Pentathlon "Couch Potato" Seat

The Modern Pentathlon “Couch Potato” Seat.  At least he stayed the course and is here looking towards the next jump.

course – emphasis on “crash.”  I recall seeing maybe one competent rider who could utilize aids other than the “Holy Shit Brakes,” or the “Save Me Jesus” seat.  These riders choke up on the horse and give zero release – on one occasion causing the horse to flip over backwards – both riders and horses were lucky there were no serious injuries.  Non-abuse is supposed to be a core tenet of riding, and the pentathlon was sheer abuse for many of these horses, who appeared quite competent on their own and should have been allowed to complete the course sans rider.  So give me the ancient pentathlon of discus throwing, javelin, long jump, running, and wrestling over this torture. Riding a horse correctly with proper aids is not easy,  as demonstrated by the fact that these fairly well-rounded,  athletic competitors do not universally manage to achieve good results.

In the dressage world,  Austrian FEI rider Ulrike Prunthaller has been given a nine month ban from competition and a 4,000 euro fine for the application of “painful and illegal training methods” to her horses. Her coach Friedrich Atschko is fined 5,000 euro for conscientiously supporting these methods. The pair was cleared of the charges that they injured their horses with screws, nails, stones and other unwanted artefacts,  due to a lack of evidence.  Such training methods are to be loathed, they give the horses significant pain, suffering and fear.  It can hardly be said that these two were not aware that they were causing suffering.

Rollkur/hyperflexion is another form of abusive submission horses are being subjected to in dressage. Exaggerated flexion of a horse’s poll and neck became popularized in dressage in theRollkur - Clearly the horse is not comfortable! 1980s when Nicole Uphoff of Germany used it as a training technique with her horse. The rider whose name has become most closely associated with the method is  Anky van Grunsven. What makes this particularly abusive is that, at the Olympic level, the competitors UNDERSTAND the anatomy of the horse and they enforce rollkur (or “Low,  Deep,  Round”) anyway.  And if they don’t do it in competition,  they’ve been seen doing it in practice,  away from the arena proper.  Even some of the riders not using rollkur were seen digging in with spurs upon entering the arena for their tests and on through their rides.  The FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) and all its associated federations enforce their own rules and standards when it comes to rollkur,  or not!

Abusive training technique - horse's mouth open, clearly in pain

Abusive training technique – head pressed against the wall,  and the horse’s mouth open, tucked-up and clearly in pain

German veterinarian Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, working with German Olympic dressage champion Klaus Balkenhol, created headlines when they publicized the findings of Heuschmann’s anatomical and biomechanical studies of hyperflexion. Heuschmann said that hyperflexion not only fails to develop the proper musculature for upper-level dressage, but the exaggerated flexion can also restrict the horse’s airway. Heuschmann published a book, Tug of War: Classical Versus “Modern” Dressage, detailing his findings and arguing against the practice of hyperflexion. Unfortunately it seems as though rollkur has made it’s way into the Western Pleasure world as well,  where it’s still not humane.

What makes rollkur especially cruel is that it closely resembles, to me, images of

Stress positions are designed to be exhaustingly uncomfortable without being clear "torture."

Stress positions are designed to be exhaustingly uncomfortable without being clear “torture.”

prisoner abuse and torture from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in occupied Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. They demonstrate extreme examples of a technique broadly defined as “stress positions,” which are designed to “soften-up” prisoners prior to interrogation. Here, prisoners are being forced to artificially lower their heads and adopt unnatural positions of their spines, similar to horses in rollkur.

We must stop seeing a horse as an adversary that must be “broken.”  It seems today lavish gaits,tricks and precision are what is rewarded in competition rather than the quality of the training, the willingness of the horse,  or the dedication to the sport by the rider. Most of us have done something questionable or ill-advised with regard to our horses, or we may have seen a trainer do something that didn’t rough handlingseem right but we didn’t know at the time why it was wrongIf anyone in any equestrian discipline uses some of these techniques on horses with the full knowledge that we are causing them pain or distress, then we are little better than sadist Farida Khan.  Use of the whips, extreme bits,  and harsh spurs are the  surest indicators that all other training has either been neglected, rushed, or poorly executed.  “Hard Riding” is just another type of willful abuse – the reason for it hardly matters.  The horse does not know why we abuse him or for what purpose, only that we do.

The video below is disturbing in that a mini-pony is being abused and exhausted.  The Napoleon Riding Cult has been charged with animal abuse in the Netherlands.

Mount Up Everyone – IEBA and Sue Wallis Form Yet Another Dark-Sided Alliance

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dangerous dimwit

Written by Heather Clemenceau

Despite experiencing a profound personal loss late last year,  “Slaughterhouse Sue” Wallis tells us on her Facebook page that she’s now caught up on all her paperwork and laundry,  and it also seems that she’s gotten back up on that proverbial horse, to build new alliances in her never-ending quest to market horseflesh.  Apparently,  one of the first orders of business was to introduce  an Ag-Gag bill in her home state of Wyoming.  The bills are an attempt to stem the flow of undercover videos and photos by animal activists and they represent a wholesale assault on many fundamental values. Not only would these bills perpetuate animal abuse on industrial farms, they would also threaten workers’ rights, consumer health and safety, law enforcement investigations and the freedom of journalists, employees and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply.  Exposés of illegal or inhumane treatment of animals at factory farms have led to the closure of farming facilities, nationwide recalls and, in some cases, criminal convictions.

You have to wonder whether Wallis believes there should be any food restrictions to protect the safety of consumers.  She believes that

A shining example of beauty in motion and all things "country,"  and on the right is Sue Wallis

A shining example of beauty in motion and all things pastoral, and on the right is Sue Wallis

consumers have the right to eat whatever they want, whether that be any food produced by a cottage industry or roadside stand, without licensing or inspection.  Yet conversely,  she doesn’t appear to support the public’s right to know how that food from a factory farm is produced.  Hillandale Farms isn’t inviting folks into their poultry sheds. Smithfield does not welcome people into their sow barns.  And Cal-Maine Foods. isn’t holding daily tours of their egg-laying farms. And neither did Slaughterhouse Sue invite the unwashed public into her sooper-seekrit industry meeting in December 2012,   a meeting that would be more difficult to gain admittance to than your local prison.

So if you think that beef burger you bought from Tesco tastes a bit strange, just shut up and eat it like a champion. If you’re a Muslim and have just recently found out you’re eating pork in your burgers,  so what?  It’s all about keeping the consumer uninformed about what is in the foodstuffs they purchase, or how the animals are treated.  One constant with Wallis is that you can always count on her rabidly trying to find a way around food safety laws – chemical contamination of domestic horsemeat is no big deal.

Kay Johnson SmithIn attendance at that meeting was Kay Johnson Smith, (apparently known in social circles as A-Kay-47) President of the Animal Agriculture Alliance,  another of Wallis’ connections to slaughterhouse managers,  policymakers,  veterinarians,  and restaurant owners,  who all hope to glimpse how Big Agribusiness hopes to take on its biggest fear – animal activists.  As a propagandist for Big Ag, it is Smith’s responsibility to present your average CAFO to the consumer as a bucolic, small pastured family farm,  all while the reality is that less than 1% of animals raised for food come from family farms.  At the December IEBA meeting, Smith was presenting a plan that would allow farms to thoroughly screen job applicants and implement a security plan. The plan includes stepping up security at factory farms and slaughterhouses so activists have more difficulty with undercover investigations — clearly, it’s easier to get away with cruelty when the public doesn’t know about it.  As President of the AAA,  Johnson Smith’s involvement with Wallis and horse slaughter is an indication that Smith’s services will be utilized in normalizing and marketing “cheval” in the US and beyond.  And Johnson Smith is more than ready to do that,  describing the lack of slaughter in the US as an  “Undeniable National Horror,”  Aside from the overblown rhetoric,  I wonder if she knows the difference between vegetarians and vegans?  I’m reasonably sure most horse people are neither.

”It is time for the federal government to intervene and stop these
animals, considered by many to be American icons, from being used by
vegan groups as political pawns in their quest to impose their vegetarian
agenda on our nation,” added Johnson-Smith. ”Additionally, it is time
for all governments-federal, state and local-to recognize these groups
for what they are, extremists attempting to use animal welfare as a tool
to advance their radical vegan agenda.”

The Animal Agriculture Alliance "Axis of Evil,"  with HSUS right dead centre

The Animal Agriculture Alliance “Axis of Evil,” with HSUS right dead centre

The stated mission of the AAA is to keep animal agriculture in the US and defend farming practices against animal welfare groups.  The AAA attacks groups whose sole mandate is advocating for and rescue of farm animals.  They send letters of congratulation to companies who refuse to implement humane solutions for farm animals.  They also support the Fur Commission.  Thanks to groups like the Animal Agriculture Alliance and factory farming’s massive economies of scale, a lot of food today is disgusting or cruel or disgusting and cruel.

Since reasonably well informed individuals know that CAFO farms are miserable for animals, the environment,

From stable to table....

From stable to table….

farmers, public health, biodiversity, rural communities, and  global poverty,  Johnson Smith has probably indulged in propaganda that would make Leni Reifenstahl blush. The AAA hopes to create a climate whereby donating to the HSUS (or other animal welfare groups) will be nothing short of the kiss of death for businesses who rely on public support. They do this by taking issue with organizations who give donations to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) – Casella Wines (makers of Yellow Tail) and the Bank of America are two predominant examples.  After asking their members and others in agriculture to harass both organizations via social media, phone calls, and mail, they managed to  brow-beat Yellow Tail to get them to withdraw future support, and Johnson Smith was happy to let them off the hook with a warning, “we are happy to put this unfortunate incident behind us.”  Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan however, stood up to Johnson Smith by telling her that the HSUS does not get preferential treatment and providing the card was simply responding to consumer demand. Despite a great rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, the AAA had to admit defeat and officially mourn the end of their relationship with BOA, if indeed they actually had one.

The Animal Agricultural Alliance is so easily offended.  Aside from indulging a pathological fear of vegetarians and vegans, Meatless Mondays, an initiative of the nonprofit, Monday Campaign, Inc., and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, was perceived by the AAA and other groups as an extremist animal rights campaign to end meat consumption. Absolutely NOTHING in that newsletter article about Meatless Mondays was false information. In fact, I’d wager to guess that article is the most truth the USDA has let out in a long time. Unfortunately, the USDA capitulated very quickly when confronted by meat industry lobbyists.  In future,  the agency should look towards substantiated science as well as health benefits rather than giving in to public opinion and industry greed.

horse deli

“The Alliance is a radical, pro factory-farming organization that is either completely out-of-step with Americans’ values on how animals ought to be treated, or perhaps simply chooses to ignore those values at the request of its corporate funders.” HSUS Food Policy Director Matt Prescott

If you look at the infographic AAA has created (above), you can see that although they’ve missed groups such as Animals’ Angels, they’ve targeted Jonathan Safran Foer,  who isn’t even a strict vegetarian (and not a domestic terrorist either).  The AAA claims that claim his book contains some of the most negative stereotypes of modern agriculture. Like ever. So to that end they offer an anti-terrorism course so there will be a way to combat laws against horse slaughter and people like the Jonathan Safran Foer’s of the world.   The power brokers know that their business model depends on consumers not being able to see (or hear about) horses or other animals.   Additionally,  the AAA has engaged the Lead attorney for Ringling/Feld Entertainment,  who provides seminars for them on how to defeat animal welfare cases.  Ringling in bed with Big Ag, what a shock.

According to HSUS Food Policy Director Matt Prescott, the American Agricultural Alliance has never had a grip on reality. “The Alliance is a radical, pro factory-farming organization that is either completely out-of-step with Americans’ values on how animals ought to be treated, or perhaps simply chooses to ignore those values at the request of its corporate funders,” Prescott said in an email. The fact is simple: without organizations like HSUS, the meat industry and factory farming in general would continue to strive to maximize output at animals’ expense.

Draft Horses Being Sent to Japan for slaughter - unable to fully raise their heads in their confined crates.

Draft Horses Being Sent to Japan for slaughter – unable to fully raise their heads in their confined crates.

The days of “it’s none of your business” farming are long gone.  Bills similar to Wallis’ Ag-Gag have been proposed and many defeated – in other states between 2011 and 2012. Ag-Gag bills to penalize those who secretly record video of livestock are a sobering setback for the animals, of course, as well as for food safety. Remember the salmonella outbreak two years ago—the one in which half a billion Iowa eggs were recalled?  Mercy for Animals conducted an undercover video investigation of the farm in 2009, and forwarded its findings to Maine animal welfare officials.  In Wallis’ own state of Wyoming,  the HSUS videoed astonishing abuse of pigs at Wyoming Premium Meats.  Under an Ag-Gag bill, these undercover endeavours would be illegal, and in some cases a felony.  It’s a shame that people feel their livelihoods are at stake, or feel threatened by the growing awareness of the horrors of the industry.  Neither Wallis nor Johnson Smith care about the welfare of horses or any other animal – it’s in their best interest for people to continue to dump unwanted horses in the middle of empty fields, at rescues, or have them seized Dorothy Robertson-style, because those horses are how they are going to make their money selling horsemeat to Japan, Belgium, and France.

Please read HSUS response to Wallis’ Ag-Gag bill.

NonHorseyFL

A Reply to Nathan Winograd…

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bignewyorkerbookofdogs2Written by:  Amanda Katz (Guestblogger Extraordinaire)

After a lengthy discussion that centered around my support for HSUS and the ASPCA,  I asked Nathan Winograd via Facebook whether he supported Caboodle Ranch a failed hoarding/rescue of 700 cats.   He responded that he had made no statement about the ranch, then asked me a number of questions that seemed to be sparked by my cover pic of the HSUS baby seal campaign.  Here is my response to him, which came after a long series of back and forth between Winograd, myself and several other people.

Mr. Winograd – You have asked posters on your Facebook page not to put words in your mouth, yet your latest reply to me certainly puts words into mine.  You seem to have made all kinds of assumptions and accusations about what I think and believe, when all I did was ask if I could post openly on your page!   I am going to go ahead and share my thoughts openly, even though you removed my civil comments and banned me.

First regarding Caboodle Ranch.  I am glad to see you say you would condemn a place that is causing prolonged suffering and death to animals, even if that place calls itself No Kill.  That is exactly what Caboodle Ranch did.

You seem to be questioning the evidence against Caboodle Ranch solely because some of it came from PETA and ASPCA, which you claim lie about the facts.  However, it is hard to see where the evidence that PETA and ASPCA got about Caboodle was a lie.  Photos and video don’t lie, which is exactly why Big Ag. interests in several states are trying to pass Ag-Gag laws banning undercover investigations — and why the Caboodle defenders sound exactly like factory farmers talking about Mercy for Animals when they claim the photos and videos were doctored, staged, etc.

In the Caboodle Ranch case, PETA sent an undercover investigator at the request of several former volunteers to document the cruelty and neglect that caused the death of hundreds of cats.  PETA’s investigation provided local authorities with the evidence required to shut down the ranch.  At that point, local authorities asked the ASPCA to remove all 700 cats.  The ASPCA housed the cats for months while the legal proceedings were sorted out, provided extensive rehabilitation and medical treatment, and eventually adopted all but the very sickest of cats into new homes.

Even if you don’t believe PETA or the ASPCA about Caboodle Ranch, there is plenty of other evidence available. Before PETA and ASPCA were ever involved, the owner sued a former volunteer turned whistleblower for defamation and lost — it is this court case that provides much of the evidence against Caboodle Ranch, such as the financial records showing that Caboodle took in much more in donations than it paid in care for the cats, and that its owner used donations for the cats to pay for trips and clothing.

That evidence, combined with evidence from PETA and the ASPCA was certainly convincing to the courts, as the judge cited it in his order awarding custody of the cats to the local sheriff.  If all you do is read this court order, you will get a good idea of conditions for the animals at Caboodle Ranch.

Yes, I support the HSUS — and Other Organizations

You have also asked several questions of me.  I will do my best to answer them, though you may not like the answers.

I do support the HSUS, as well as ASPCA and PETA.  I also support Best Friends, and believe it or not, I support some of what you do as well.  You may not think that is possible, as you have made a concerted effort to draw a line in the sand between yourself and every other national animal welfare organization.  But I do not take such a black-and-white view of these issues.

First, regarding HSUS, you have presented a number of allegations on your Facebook page.  I can’t answer all of those, but I can answer some, and I believe you are misconstruing their actual work and position on the issues. For example, bignewyorkerbookofdogs5regarding dogs rescued from fighting operations, your description of the HSUS position does not include the fact that they changed their position on this issue back in April 2009 — almost four years ago.  At the time of the Vick case and the Wilkes County case, when asked, they did advise the court to euthanize the dogs.  That is not the same thing as “lobbying” — the court asked, and they provided an answer.  Moreover, at the time euthanasia was the standard recommendation for all dogs removed from fighting operations — most humane organizations made the same recommendation.

Fortunately the HSUS was mature enough to reconsider this position and change its recommendations to advocate for individual evaluations.  Again, that happened almost four years ago now, yet you continue to write about HSUS as if euthanasia is their current position when it is not.  Moreover, the HSUS remained true to its word with the rescue of 200 dogs from a fighting operation in Ohio in 2010.  All but the sickest of dogs were rescued and placed into new homes.

One of those homes belongs to an HSUS employee I know personally who slept with him in the living room every night for weeks so she could be there when he woke up with nightmares.  This is hardly the hard-hearted pro-killing organization that you make HSUS out to be.  For more, see “HSUS Steps Up and Seeks Help for 200 Dogs Seized from Fighting Operation” by Ledy van Kavage first published on change.org.

Why do you not present this crucial part of the story when discussing the HSUS’s recommendations on fighting dogs?

bignewyorkerbookofdogs1Gas chamber and Michael Vick

Regarding the allegations that HSUS has lobbied against laws banning the gas chamber, I have a very difficult time believing the HSUS did that. On the contrary, the HSUS has given grants to shelters to transition them off of the gas chamber.  The HSUS also actively supports the proposed Congressional resolution by Jim Moran (D-Va.) to condemn use of the gas chamber and encourage states to ban it.

You told someone farther up this thread that the Moran resolution makes an exception for shelters, but again, I think that is a misconstrual of the facts.  It is a proposed resolution, not a law, so it is not binding on anyone.  The national Congress is not going to pass a law regarding shelter practices because animal shelters are regulated by state and local governments, and are not a federal matter.

However, if Congress passed a resolution condemning the gas chamber, that would be an important tool in pushing states like North Carolina to ban the practice.  This would be a win for the animals that we are all trying to help.  That’s why resolutions like this should be supported regardless of feelings about HSUS.

Moreover, the HSUS position on the gas chamber is clear: “The HSUS considers use of the gas chamber in a shelter setting to be unacceptable under any circumstances.”  The reasons are that “Gas chambers cannot provide humane euthanasia for shelter populations,” and “Gas chambers pose grave dangers to staff.”

As for Vick, I can see why the HSUS worked with him, but it is not something I actively supported.  As was pointed out to you, Vick can reach inner-city kids in African American neighborhoods in a way that you, I, or Wayne Pacelle cannot. He spoke to tens of thousands of them, and if he got even one kid to reconsider going into dogfighting, that is a good thing.  Unfortunately, the Vick partnership sparked a strong backlash in the animal welfare community.  For that reason, I do not think it has been a success.

However, regardless of whether the Vick program was successful, it was not done as a quid pro quo to get $50,000 out of the Philadelphia Eagles.  That money did not go to line anyone’s pockets but to the End Dogfighting program in Philadelphia.  The Eagles also gave $50,000 grants to two other humane organizations at the same time — the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society to build a spay-neuter clinic, and Berks County Humane Society to fund a mobile veterinary clinic.

Why do you not mention those grants in your discussion of the Eagles money?  Is it possible the Eagles were simply trying to improve animal welfare in their community?  All three of their grants went to animal welfare programs in Philadelphia, and with a $50,000 grant, each program could help a lot more animals.

herding catsOther National Groups

Regarding the ASPCA, I do not know as much about them as I do HSUS, but they stepped up to save 700 cats from Caboodle Ranch, as well as 350 dogs from a failed rescue in Ohio in 2011. In both cases they were asked to help by local authorities because local shelters simply do not have the capacity to handle so many animals. And in both cases almost every animal was saved, and these were very sick animals removed from horrible hoarding situations.

This demonstrates one reason why we need the national groups.  What other groups have the capacity to conduct large-scale rescues from hoarding situations, fighting rings, puppy mills, natural disasters, and other cases when hundreds of animals are in need?  I don’t see that any of your No Kill shelters, as wonderful as they are, have the capacity to do that.

Furthermore, in many cases in which animals were removed from so-called rescues that were really situations of great cruelty, the rescue group had a 501c3.  In fact, all the national animal welfare groups have been asked to handle major removals from 501c3 rescue organizations that were actually horrible hoarding situations.  Besides the ASPCA’s involvement in Caboodle Ranch in Florida and One More Chance Rescue in Ohio, the HSUS rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed 700 cats from Haven Acres in Florida, while Best Friends rescued 800 cats from For the Love of Cats and Kittens in Nevada, 150 of which still live at the Best Friends sanctuary in Utah.

All of these so-called rescue groups had a 501c3, yet they all involved extreme animal suffering.  Perhaps this is why the national groups have not testified in favor of CAPA laws that would require local shelters to turn over animals to any rescue group that asks.  While most rescues are wonderful organizations, clearly some of them are not — to send an animal to one of these places would condemn it to prolonged suffering and death.

A 501c3 alone is simply not enough to ensure that a place calling itself a rescue is not a death camp.  Again I think you have misconstrued the position of the national organizations on this issue.  While you say they have lobbied against the CAPA bills, that is not the case in the instances I have read about, such as Best Friends which remained neutral on the CAPA proposal in New York.

Personally, I think shelters should work more with rescue groups and would support a version of CAPA that provided some kind of standards for rescue groups to meet before shelters were legally required to send animals to them.  I am not sure what those standards would be, but would support, for example, formation of an accrediting body for shelters and rescues similar to the organizations that accredit top zoos (Association of Zoos and Aquariums), and quality exotic animal sanctuaries (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries).  Shelters and rescues would have an incentive to achieve accreditation because accredited organizations are more likely to draw donations and be awarded grants.

We All Want to End Shelter Euthanasiadogsandblogsnewyorker

As I said earlier, while I don’t agree with some of your positions, I do support other things you do.  The No Kill Equation is a list of best practices that every shelter should be striving to accomplish, and many shelters are already incorporating some, most or all of its elements into their operations.  Others are not.

There is no doubt that some shelters are in dire need of reform, and I am glad your group is there to demand that they do it.  But there is a difference between criticism meant to reform bad practices and a scorched earth campaign meant to destroy the very infrastructure we need to help animals.  I think that your rhetoric often crosses the line into destruction rather than criticism.

Moreover, I cannot agree that there is no such thing as pet overpopulation, or that adoption alone can end shelter euthanasia.  Increased adoption is certainly an essential part of what must be done, including concerted efforts at better marketing and placement of animals.  Other tactics to  help save large groups of animals should be supported, such as a creating a Parvo ward for puppies and a bottle baby ward for kittens, provided they are properly staffed to avoid suffering.

But we also must reduce the number of animals flowing into shelters, particularly from puppy mills and unaltered street cats.  Low-cost spay-neuter for low-income areas is vital, as is legislation regulating high-volume dog breeders.  Why endorse one tactic to end shelter euthanasia (increasing demand) but not another (decreasing supply)?  Surely there is room for a variety of tactics to achieve this important goal.

You say that no one can provide numbers showing there are fewer homes than animals needing to be placed.  That is because such national numbers do not exist.  We have an idea how many animals are in shelters, but we have no idea how many are being advertised on Craig’s List and other online forums, how many stray cats are on the streets, how many people get cats from accidental litters that a friend had, etc.

The actual number of homeless animals is much, much higher than what is in shelters.  For every person who gets a cat at a shelter, many more get cats from friends or the streets.  That is direct competition for shelter animals and must be considered in these calculations of supply and demand. Furthermore, the animals who are in shelters do not always match what people are looking for.  Most people don’t want pit bulls, yet half of dogs in shelters are pits or pit mixes.  People want kittens, not adult cats, yet shelters are overflowing with adult cats.  People don’t want black animals.

I’m not saying that’s right.  I think it’s terrible.  But regardless of what I think, someone who comes to a shelter looking for a kitten or a Pomeranian is not going to walk away with an adult black cat or a pit bull.  So it’s not a matter solely of numbers.  It is also a matter of preferences.  Shelter director Karel Minor makes this point eloquently.

Herblock Fire June 17, 1949We Need to Work Together

To say that people who disagree with your interpretation of these complex issues are “pro-killing” is simply not accurate.  On this page I have seen you tell people who spend their entire life outside of work rescuing animals that they are pro-killing.  I believe that is a misrepresentation of their hard work and counter-productive. With so many animals suffering, we need ALL tactics, ALL groups working together.

You have noted that the number of no kill communities is rising.  They achieve no kill by working with others in their communities to constructively solve problems, not through vicious attacks and infighting.

I look forward to the day when all animal advocates can work together to help animals in need, when there is room for all tactics and programs to end shelter euthanasia, and when we can end this vicious infighting that is a much larger threat to the animal welfare movement than any external enemy ever could be.

Canada’s Horse “Welfare” Group in Dubious Company (Or Reason #189,743 Why We Cannot Trust Unified Equine or the IEBA)

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Canadian and American horses are at risk

Canadian and American horses are at risk

Written by Heather Clemenceau (with contributions from the CHDC)

All Artwork Copyright Heather Clemenceau (use with permission only)

Canada’s Horse “Welfare” Group in Dubious Company

Domestic and wild horses in Canada are at risk of being in grave danger. Back in May 2010, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) published a paper called “What You Didn’t Know About Canada’s Horse Federations” –  exposing a deceptively named Canadian organization called the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC).

The report included some eyebrow-raising facts including:

  • HWAC’s formation being in response to Canada’s anti-slaughter movement, prompted by the CHDC’s first investigative report, “Black Beauty Betrayed” in 2008.
  • the true purpose of HWAC, which is not horse welfare, but the promotion and support of North America’s horse slaughter industry;
  • proof of HWAC’s affiliation with Canada’s largest horse slaughter plant, Bouvry Exports;
  • HWAC’s founder, Bill DesBarres is a Board member with the Alberta Equestrian Federation, and thus manoeuvred to include all provincial horse federations under HWAC;
  • Bill DesBarres’ reaction to authentic footage obtained from Bouvry Exports in the CHDC 2010 report, “Chambers of Carnage” was to dispute its authenticity, saying: “I’m not convinced that those pictures were taken at Fort MacLeod. These things are produced by people who have a different agenda. They are against animal agriculture, period.”
  • HWAC’s affiliation with extreme pro-slaughter groups in the U.S. under State of Wyoming Legislature Republican Sue Wallis.

South of the border, DesBarres American counterpart and horse slaughter advocate, Rep. Sue Wallis, has been hard at work laying the groundwork for horse slaughter plants to re-open in the US after a 6-year moratorium.  Despite failed attempts at re-establishing slaughter in Wyoming and Mountain Grove, Missouri, Rep. Wallis, the recently-resigned President of the United Horsemen’s group, is refocusing her efforts on alternative locations in Southern Missouri, Oregon, New Mexico, Nebraska, Iowa, Washington, and Oklahoma.  It has recently been revealed that the site of that location in Missouri is Rockville,  a town of less than 200 people,  and the site of a now-closed beef processing plant.  Wallis is counting on the fact that the plant is located in this small town where 50-60 residents were previously employed at the plant,  which was closed by the owners as a result of USDA pressure.  Via a press release from the IEBA,  Wallis announced that “Americans Eat Horses, and the World is Hungry Enough to Help Us Save Them.” If Americans ate horses and there was a buck to be made, horse meat would be in grocery stores long ago. There was nothing stopping the selling of horse meat during all the years they were slaughtered in the US.  Wallis claims horsemeat will resolve all hunger problems in the US,  and her supporters in United Horsemen’s group also claim that it could be exported to Africa and solve hunger in that continent.  Why doesn’t she just create a business proposal to sell horsemeat to impoverished African countries?

The problem with these types of simplistic “solutions” is that they can’t possibly account for all the problems in Africa. Like food distribution problems, government corruption, AIDS, the effects of globalization, overpopulation, gang warfare, coup d’etats, the role of the IMF, and the lowest average wages in the world. 23 million starving – we’d have to slaughter every horse in the US and Canada, plus dogs and cats, every year, and even that wouldn’t be enough to sustain them over time. Most African countries have had aid provided to them for many years, and yet the circumstances never improve for the people. Pro-slaughters think you can throw horsemeat at anyone and they will literally rise up from the grave in good health and prosperity. Wallis’ rejection of food safety regulations would be laughable if not dangerous.  Food safety regulations are to protect humans,  not animals,  and the veterinarian sources she cites are not able to make determinations as to the acceptable limits of drug residues,  if any,  because they are not toxicologists.  The reason she is so irrational on food safety is that if food safety regulations were enforced with  horses, she would not be able to set up her slaughter empire!

Incidentally,  Wallis is running for re-election in Wyoming,  and her professional bio lists her as a “writer” and a “poet.”  Well,  I’ve read her so-called poetry.  IMO, cowboy poetry sucks because they can’t rhyme anything with “saddles.” It’s even worse with Sue trying her hand writing about “Mustang meat-patties” and “BLM Burgers.” I’d rather be hog-tied than have to listen to a Sue Wallis poetry reading.

American horses are exported to Canada for slaughter

American horses are exported to Canada or Mexico for slaughter

While Wallis has previously moved around, working under the guise of several organizations, most recently Unified Equine LLC (which apparently no longer has a web presence apart from its Facebook page), she is attempting to re-brand herself by creating yet another organization to further her pursuit of horse slaughter in America: The International Equine Business Association. (IEBA).  This organization now includes Belgian monetary backer Olivier Kemseke of Chevideco, an international horse slaughter corporation and Canadian Bill DesBarres, of the ironically-named Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada. (HWAC).  Chevideco, the owner of the Dallas Crown horse slaughter facility, owes the City of Kaufman, Texas numerous fines for the environmental grotesqueries of their plant.  HWAC is also public representative of Claude Bouvry, owner of Bouvry Exports in Alberta – Canada’s largest horse slaughter plant.  Bouvry is also owner of many large horse feedlots in Alberta, Shelby, Montana and Fallon, Nevada.  As such, we are confident in asserting that these three individuals do not represent the horse industry – they represent the meat industry!

The last few months have been busy for the aptly named “Slaughterhouse Sue” Wallis.  Not content merely to confine herself to arranging duplicitous business enterprises, she has been given her walking papers by the town of Mountain Grove, MO, she has crumbled under pressure on a radio program, written endorsements for feedlot owners under investigation and slaughterhouse owners who have had their operations suspended for cruelty violations.  In 2011,  she was the subject of an ethics enquiry in her own state by an animal activist.  On the United Horsemen’s page on Facebook, she has started calling anti-slaughter legislators in Congress “socialists,” after a press release announced the cancellation of the 2nd Summit of the (Dead) Horse event.

Consumer research firm Neilsen found that in March 2011, a typical Facebook user was on the site for a staggering 6 hours and 35 minutes at a time.  I suspect Sue Wallis spends considerably more time on Facebook than the typical user,  or even the typical politican,  who tend to be quite observant of commentary from other Facebook users and constituents.  A selection of Sue Wallis’ Facebook posts taken from various sources reveal that any individuals who express concern for the environment,  drug contamination in food,  or animal welfare are likely to come under fire.  Once Wallis tires of battling animal welfare groups on Facebook,  “sics” her United Horsemen’s minions on other Facebook users she doesn’t like or who have challenged her.  In another incident,  Wallis exercises questionable judgement when she once again asks her minions to “reach out” to a woman who has slaughtered her own horse and crawled nude inside the carcass to pose for pictures.  Some photos featured in the website even showcase the woman posing with the horse’s heart,  as if she is about to consume it.  Even posters on the United Horsemen’s page feel the distaste at her request.

Sue Wallis asks United Horsemen followers to "reach out" and support the right to commit horse necrophilia.

Sue Wallis asks United Horsemen followers to “reach out” and support the right to commit horse necrophilia.

"Slaughterhouse" Sue asks her followers to harass people who disagree with her.

“Slaughterhouse” Sue asks her followers to harass people who disagree with her.

Sue Wallis asks Facebook followers to harass this email account holder (email account has been partially redacted for privacy)

Sue Wallis asks Facebook followers to harass this email account holder (email account has been partially redacted for privacy)

One wonders how the whiny, finger-pointing Wallis can regularly travel away from her constituents in Wyoming, to further her own business interests in other states.  When objection to her plans reached critical mass in Mountain Grove Missouri, Wallis was given a “get out of town card,” after she hatched the bizarre claim that the local YMCA director received death threats from “animal rights activists.”  Of course, the Director himself denied that any such threats were made by anyone – he even told the investigating police that no one had threatened him.  But this is not what the followers of the pro-slaughter faction wanted to hear, so the fabricated story of death threats was made to cover-up for the truth that they were kicked to the curb.  Sue Wallis left town with the following advisory: “Discussion’s over.  Make all the noise you want.  We’re going into business.” Should we be surprised that  Wyoming ranks 48th out of 50 states in terms of corruption risk. 

Despite a published agenda for the radio program, Wallis’ snake-oil showmanship was exposed in a radio broadcast that featured, among other guests, Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), leading to her public meltdown  and abrupt departure from the show.  She claims that she was ambushed, which seems surprising – who agrees to speak on a radio program with the belief that there will be no other guests, and with the pre-program guest list posted online?

Greasewood and the Sandwash Basin Horsres

In a move that was not only ill-conceived, but couldn’t be more ill-timed, Sue Wallis pointed her slaughter house interests towards New Mexico, after failing in Missouri.  New Mexico is the home of the infamous Chavez Feedlot, where horses are shuttled from many points in the U.S. to slaughter plants in Mexico.  In March 2012, Animals Angels exposed horrible conditions there where horses that were rejected at Mexican plants, were returned to the Chavez feedlot and left to die.

Wallis then went on to urge the New Mexico Governor that “instead of charging (feedlot owner Dennis) Chavez with negligent mistreatment or animal cruelty, and trying to ruin his business…if these groups really cared about horses they would be honoring and applauding him, as we do, for providing care and sustenance to horses that would otherwise have no chance of survival.”  Read the entire letter  The problem is that Mr. Chavez has established a clear pattern of abusing horses, as can be seen from a USDA Freedom of Information Act inquiry.  Additionally, he is now the subject of an animal cruelty investigation which revealed profoundly disturbing footage of severely emaciated horses, unable to rise, expiring on his feedlot without the humanity of euthanasia.  Chavez didn’t provide “care” or “sustenance” to any of these animals in the video, as they were too weak to rise to eat or drink and remained prostrate on the ground.  As if that was not going to be embarrassing enough for her, she then tried to discredit the investigators in her comments.

In another humiliating incident for slaughter advocates, New Mexico slaughter plant owner Rick De Los Santos,  who has lost his license to slaughter cows due to humane violations, now wants permission to slaughter the quintessential flight animal – the horse.  Mr. De Los Santos’ explanation of the reason for which he has had to lay off his entire staff  at Valley Meats is not credible either, yet certainly pro-slaughter advocates are not constrained by adherence to facts.  However,  never one to miss an opportunity to promote a pro-slaughter agenda,  Sue Wallis’ Unified Equine Facebook page boasts a recommendation of Mr. De Los Santos that makes me concerned for my own cranial integrity – yes,  I’m about to *facepalm* yet again.  Not content to merely make recommendations for those businesses and individuals who have been sanctioned or fined by various US government agencies,  Slaughterhouse Sue is well-known as a politician who glorifies those who are employed in any capacity in the slaughter industry – including many kill buyers,  lauded for sainthood.  Someone should explain to her that many of these so-called heroes have incurred fines to the tune of $100,000 or more in the course of their saintly occupation.

Unified Equine Promotes a business that has been suspended for humane violations to cattle

Unified Equine Promotes a business that has been suspended for humane violations to cattle

The Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, has asked the USDA to deny Mr. De Los Santos and Valley Meats’ request for a permit.  In addition, New Mexico Attorney General, Gary King, has stated that “a horse slaughtering plant in Roswell is a terrible idea. Such a practice, while not illegal, is certainly abhorrent to public sentiment, and I strongly suggest it be abandoned.”

More defeat dogged Sue Wallis and United Horsemen counterpart, horse-trainer Dave Duquette, when it was announced that the 2nd Annual Summit of the (Slaughter) Horse, a conference designed to convince the general public that eating pets is a good thing, would be “rescheduled” to sometime in January of next year.  That’s not a rescheduling in our books; that’s an outright cancellation.

In 2011,  Patricia Fazio, PhD, President of the Cody-based Wyoming Animal Welfare Network, filed charges last year that alleged that Sue Wallis, a Wyoming State Representative, attempted to defraud horse slaughter supporters out of $30,000 in a bogus truck raffle and that Sue Wallis had sponsored and voted on bills in which she had a financial interest.  Although the truck allegations were dismissed the remainder of the investigation is still running at full throttle against the embattled Wyoming State Rep.

From a Canadian perspective, DesBarres’ association with Wallis and Kemseke earns him a blazing refutation as a representative of Canadian horse owners and horse groups. Together, the  alliance of Wallis/DesBarres/Kemseke maintains that horse slaughter is necessary in North America in order to deal with the numbers of homeless or “unwanted” horses – the IEBA is a soapbox upon which they stand to deliver their dubious claims to an unsuspecting public.  The reality is that slaughter is not an end-of-life solution, but one that fulfills a demand for horsemeat in the EU and Japan – a lucrative demand that has filled the pockets of foreign plants such as Belgian Chevideco, who apparently expect taxpayers to fund the costs of their business enterprises as well as any environmental clean-up that may entail.  Typically,  Chevideco invests no money of their own, and pay imaginative accountants good money to circumvent paying taxes while on U.S. soil;  Dallas Crown continued to bedevil the town of Kaufman despite efforts by Mayors Paula Bacon and  Harry Holcomb and the Kaufman City Council.  By virtue of his connection with the IEBA, DesBarres and HWAC are actively endorsing and supporting individuals and businesses that have flouted the law, often with disdain for taxpayers.  So long as the criticism is going to rain down on these three (and it surely is) I suggest that they consider building themselves an ark.  The more I read about the whole slaughter enterprise,  the more I realize I’m in need of some sort of prophylactic.

Paint Horses

The IEBA is now offering a “Charter Membership” which includes, among other “benefits,” “Legal defense network and protection from activist attack.”  Much of their mission statement and purpose was developed in lockstep with United Horsemen and the Cavalry Group, both extremist pro-slaughter organizations.  Horse owners, please be advised that this group, in order to implement its business plan and charter, will stipulate that you have your pleasure horses and pets tracked from birth to death, all to satisfy foreign countries’ appetites for horsemeat, whilst lining the pockets of Sue Wallis, Chevideco, and Bill DesBarres and the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada.  The statements made by both Wallis and DeBarres constitute a logician’s nightmare.  Neither Americans nor Canadians will withhold humane veterinary care of our horses just so we can ethically say they are “healthy and safe” to eat so we can sell their bodies at the end of their lives.   Myself,  I will never apply for membership in my provincial organization again,  nor will I purchase liability insurance from a carrier that indirectly endorses slaughter.  I will obtain liability insurance from my own insurance carrier.  We, the compassionate horse people of Canada, must use our time productively to get Bill C-322 passed!

If you find any of the above information unacceptable to you as a horse owner or advocate, please be aware that the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada is allied with the following business partners – please let them know that you hold them all to a higher standard than that maintained by an alliance with the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada,  the International Equine Business Association, and Sue Wallis:

Provincial Organizations

British Columbia
Horse Council
Orville Smith
President
Lisa Laycock
Executive Director
27336 Fraser Highway
Aldergrove, BC
V4W 3N5
Phone: 604-856-4304
Fax: 604-856-4302
Toll Free: 1-800-345-8055
Email
Alberta
Equestrian Federation
Dixie Crowson
President
Sonia Dantu
Executive Director
100, 251 Midpark Blvd S.E.
Calgary, AB
T2X 1S3
Phone: 403-253-4411
Fax: 403-252-5260
Toll Free: 1-877-463-6233
Email
Saskatchewan
Horse Federation
Terry Fagrie
President
Mae Smith
Executive Director
2205 Victoria Avenue
Regina, SK
S4P 0S4
Phone: 306-780-9244
Fax: 306-525-4009
Email
Manitoba
Horse Council
Geri Sweet
President
Bruce Rose
Executive Director
145 Pacific Avenue
Winnipeg, MB
R3B 2Z6
Phone: 204-925-5718
Fax: 204-925-5703
Email
Ontario
Equestrian Federation
Allan Ehrlick
President
Deborah Thompsen
Executive Director
Suite 203
9120 Leslie Street
Richmond Hill, ON
L4B 3J9
Phone: 905-854-0762
Fax: 905-709-1867EmailToll Free: 1-877-441-7112
Email
Quebec
Fédération équestre du Québec
Dominique Chagnon
President
Richard Mongeau
Executive Director
4545 Ave Pierre de
Coubertic CP 1000
Succursale M
Montreal, PQ
H1V 3R2
Phone: 514-252-3053
Fax: 514-252-3165
Email
New Brunswick
Equestrian Association
Deanna Phalen
President
Suite 13
900 Hanwell Road
Fredericton, NB
E3B 6A2
Phone: 506-454-2353
Fax: 506-454-2363
Email
Nova Scotia
Equestrian Federation
Helen Smith
President
Heather Myrer
Executive Director
5516 Spring Garden Road
4th Floor
Halifax, NS
B3J 1G6
Phone: 902-425-5450 Ext 333
Fax: 902-425-5606
Email
PEI
Horse Council
Ken Smith
President
Joy MacDonald
EC Representative
POB 1887
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 7N5
Phone: 902-964-2379
Email
Newfoundland
Equestrian Federation
Chris Gallant
President
34 Circular Road
St. John’s, NF
A1C 2Z1
Phone:709-726-0826
Fax: 709-777-4558
Email

Mailing address:
Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada
Box 785, Cochrane, Alberta
T4C 1A9

Bill DesBarres: Tel: 403-526-1070 Cell: 403-529-7237
http://horsewelfare.ca/contact

Please support Pro-Horse Initiatives at the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition:

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

www.defendhorsescanada.org

All artwork copyright Heather Clemenceau (use with permission only)