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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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:
- Alberta Equestrian Federation
- Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC)
- Appaloosa Horse Club of Canada
- BC Farm Animal Care Council (BCFACC)
- Canadian Quarter Horse Association
- Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan (FACS)
- Fédération équestre du Québec
- Horse Council BC
- Intercity Insurance Services Inc. / Capri Insurance
- Island Horse Council Board
- Manitoba Horse Council
- New Brunswick Equestrian Association
- Newfoundland Equestrian Federation
- Nova Scotia Equestrian Federation
- Ontario Equestrian Federation
- Ontario Farm Animal Council (OFAC)
- Saskatchewan Horse Federation
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All artwork copyright Heather Clemenceau (use with permission only)