Uncertainty shrouds horse slaughter in US

American horses held in export pens in Texas and New Mexico before transported to slaughter in Mexico. © Kathy Milani/The HSUS
American horses held in export pens in Texas and New Mexico before transported to slaughter in Mexico. © Kathy Milani/The HSUS

A horse slaughter plant is set to open in New Mexico, amid two legal challenges and the possibility that an agriculture bill to be considered by Congress in January could defund mandatory federal inspections. Alex Brown explains the current situation, and the many areas of uncertainty.

In 2011, President Barack Obama signed an omnibus spending bill which removed language that had prevented the funding of US Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors for horse slaughter.

The removal of the language was the result of a hotly contested Government Accountability Office report which looked at the welfare of the horse in the absense of domestic slaughter.

The defunding language had been introduced in 2007, making horse slaughter effectively illegal in the US. Without such inspections, horses cannot be slaughtered for human consumption.

In the two years since horse slaughter in the US was essentially made legal at the federal level, three plants, in three states, have prepared for the resumption of the industry.

The last US-based plant had closed in 2007, in Illinois.

Over the last two years there has been a spate of ongoing legal wrangling at state and federal levels, led by the Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue, to challenge the practice.

On December 13 this year, the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a temporary ban that had stopped the plants from opening. The proposed plant in Iowa had previously converted to beef. The remaining two plants, in New Mexico and Missouri, are still pursuing their desire to slaughter horses.

The slaughter plant in Roswell, New Mexico, owned by Valley Meat Company, had been given the green light to move forward, after winning a hearing before the state’s environment secretary for a renewal of its ground water discharge permit, on 22 October, 2013. It was challenged by the humane society and Front Range Equine Rescue over its waste water provisions.

However, the legal arguments are not yet over. On December 19, New Mexico’s attorney general, Gary King, sued the plant to keep it from opening.

The suit is based on food safety (a horse’s veterinary records go undocumented and bute, a common anti-inflammatory drug used in equines, is illegal for horses entering the food chain), water quality, and unfair business practices.

The suit could cost the state upwards of $US435,000 a month, as it winds through the courts, according to Blair Dunn, an attorney for Valley Meat, in a story for the Associated Press. This is the money that will be lost from the lack of operations during the litigation, and payable if the suit is unsuccessful.

Horses held in export pens before transported for slaughter.
Horses held in export pens before being transported for slaughter. © Kathy Milani/The HSUS

The New Mexico plant intends to slaughter 100 to 120 horses a day. On a five-day week basis, this would equate to 25,000 to 30,000 horses a year.

The plant owner, Rick De Los Santos, claimed, in a report for the local KOB Eyewitness News 4, that it has contracts to ship horse-meat to Belgium, Russia and China. With the current contract, the plant would make $US350 per horse.

The slaughter plant in Gallatin, Missouri, owned by Rains Natural Meats, is also waiting to open. It, like the New Mexico plant, is waiting for the USDA inspection process to be funded and start.

The upcoming omnibus spending bill, which should be law before mid January 2014, may again include language that defunds USDA inspection.

If this language is reintroduced, then horse slaughter in the US won’t resume, and the nation will return to the status of 2007-2011.

While all this legal wrangling, debate and process evolves, the bigger picture is the passage of horse slaughter legislation at the federal level. The Safeguard American Food Exports Act (SAFE) (H.R. 1094/S. 541) has 162 co-sponsors in the House, and 27 co-sponsors in the Senate.

Until this bill is passed, more than 100,000 United States-based horses will continue to be exported to Canada, Mexico and Japan for slaughter each year.

In 2012, 176,000 horses were exported for slaughter, according to statistics provided by the Equine Welfare Alliance, an umbrella group for horse advocacy organisations.

Opening domestic slaughter will likely not change the demand for horse-meat much.

Passing the SAFE Act, and closing down export of horses for slaughter, will end the practice of horse slaughter for American horses.

Those who support horse slaughter argue that the horse is classified as livestock and as such, is no different from other livestock. They argue that the option of horse slaughter increases demand for horses at the bottom end of the market, which supports a better horse market for horse traders. They also argue that the option of slaughter reduces the potential for abuse cases. It is also a property rights issue. It would seem to be a profitable business for those directly involved.

Arguments from those who oppose horse slaughter focus on the fact that a horse is not a food animal, and is not treated as such for the majority of its lifetime; this causes food safety concerns.

They also argue that horses are an owner’s responsibility; arguing that the horse slaughter option reduces abuse cases and removes the need for owner responsibility. They also suggest that there is a weak link with abuse case numbers and the number of horses slaughtered; the number of horses slaughtered is simply driven by demand for horse-meat. Beyond that, there are emotional arguments and moral arguments as horses are often treated more like a companion animal, and have served mainkind well throughout history.

59 thoughts on “Uncertainty shrouds horse slaughter in US

  • December 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm
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    I would like to thank the New Mexico Attorney General for all his efforts in trying to stop horse slaughter houses. Thank you so much.

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  • December 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm
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    The greatest fear of horse owners is that their beautiful pets will be stolen from their pastures to be brutally murdered to satisfy the meat needs of some fat French man. People who raise sheep, pigs, and cows expect their animals will go to slaughter. Horse owners do not raise their horses for meat. My horses are on daily previcox (an nsaid), bute, wormers, antibiotics, ulcerguard, and have even been given steroids.

    People in the horse slaughter business are criminals and the industry attracts criminals and shady characters. These people routinely abuse horses.

    Horses are a flight animal and resist the captive bolt which is used to stun them at the slaughter house. Because of this, they are often alive when swung up on a back leg to have their throat cut. It is unimaginable to me that my little Val would end up here after being a barrel horse and a kid’s pony all her life. She does not deserve this after serving humans for so many years.

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    • December 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm
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      Lin:

      Well written response! Our family could not imagine any of our seven equine family members ending up in one of these houses of horror! I pray our government comes to its senses and doesn’t allow it to happen.

      Reply
    • December 29, 2013 at 10:06 am
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      Bullsh*t. How about you back your claims up with some proof? What? You say that you can’t provide any proof of anything you’ve said? Well, maybe because it’s all a big fat lie, foisted off on ignoramuses like yourself, who will believe anything. Horses must be rendered fully unconscious before being “hung up”, and by the time the jugular is cut the horse is QUITE dead…what you see as kicking is autonomic nerve reflexes, the same reflexive actions that are often seen in animals that are euthanized using pentobarbitol, which renders an animal brain dead within one minute of being properly injected ; that’s a fact, and it’s also the law under the Humane Slaughter Act. As for your little Val? If you choose not to sell her as n animal for slaughter then you don’t have to worry about it do you? You can choose to have the vet come out, introduce lethal poison into her body,( at a cost of between $300-500.00 for that service) and then either have her taken by a rendering company pick the carcass up and make it into pet food ( $100-250 for that service) or hire a backhoe ( +/- $140/hr) and bury her in your pasture where the pentabarbitol in her system can get into the groundwater and hopefully contaminate your well. Good plan Ace! You do that, but allow me to make decisions regarding the end of life for my horses on my own…they are MY PROPERTY and I know what is best for them. Just like the rest of the idiots that flock to this cause, you are full of great ideas that you have not researched and spouting all kinds of crap that has no basis in fact. God protect horses from people just like you, because I guarantee that your retired barrel horse suffered more abuse at your hands during her life in gaming than any slaughter bound horse will ever experience at the hands of a kill box worked. Keep your laws, your misinformation and your platitudes off of my livestock. Dope.

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      • December 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm
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        So, your argument all boils down to “it” being your property and saving money on “it’s” disposal. So, load it on a slaughter truck and who cares? Sheila, people who lack empathy as you clearly do, should not have live animals. Stick with the stuffed kind, with sewn on eyes and button noses. Then you can throw them away when you are done with them and they won’t feel a thing.

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      • December 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm
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        Hi Sheila,
        You clearly haven’t watched the same videos I have. However I do appreciate your honesty in signing your comment “Dope”. We don’t see that kind of honesty from many slaughter supporters. John

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      • December 31, 2013 at 8:29 pm
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        Excuse me…. unfortunately we had to put two of our aged horse’s down, for their own good. One 42 and the other in his 30’s. Each one only cost $150.00 and that included the Vet housecall. Yes, we did bury them in our pasture and did not have to rely on other methods. If you do have the Vet administer drugs, what makes it any safer in dog food than in human food, it’s still lethal. Backhoe cost’s are far below the $140.00 hr you’re suggesting. When we had our cistern dug up, $85.00 an hour was charges (which still seemed outrageous to me).
        Being a responsible horse owner is the key here. If you breed, be aware of the kinds of products you’re producing. If you’re not satisfied with the results, either stop or change your sources.
        I personally am not aware of any horse breeders, in the USA, who do it only for slaughter purpose’s, like cattle/sheep/goats. It’s personal responsiblilty that is key in this whole matter.

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      • January 1, 2014 at 5:44 am
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        It is the horse owner’s, like you, who need to be completely eliminated from owning horse’s at all. The irresponsible horse breeder, who know’s their market has bottomed out but still continue to breed and now cry’s and moans because they can’t sell them. You are the type of proslaughter that we “horse cryer’s” are protesting. It’s the horse owners responsiblity to care for what they have produced or purchased. Buck up and admit you are the reason there’s a surplus of horse’s.

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      • January 2, 2014 at 7:42 pm
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        Sheila I hope you get to visit a slaughterhouse. I for one, would offer to pay for your one-way fare. There are horrible humane abuses at slaughter houses and just the transport alone is enough to traumatize a horse,never mind you. I’d like to arrange to put you on an unsafe, friction-less surfaced trailer, cram you in with at least 30-60 of your like-minded friends and ship you on an 86 degree day without food or water for over 24 hours to a grimy kill center holding pen where we will off-load you and leave you to smell human offal, blood and urine wafting in the air for another 48 hour period before I ram you up a shoot with an electric prod and force you to stand in a holding bin where you can’t back up and listen to a fellow slaughter proponent being stunned several times while you await your turn. Then I’d like for your own personal stun to be highly inaccurate so that it has to be rendered at least 4-11 times before you become unconscious (you’ll fall down onto your knees a few times too making it harder for me to get an accurate aim to your forehead).The stun may or may not work fully, but that’s OK, I can’t wait to wrap a chain around your throbbing ankle and hoist you up by your leg, (preferably the one that is most arthritic. (Shall I stop here?)
        Are we having fun yet Tootsie?
        Go get yourself a frontal lobotomy before you utter any more preposterous drivel!

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      • March 5, 2014 at 5:42 am
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        Tell me how to report people, I’m reporting you.

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    • December 30, 2013 at 9:37 am
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      Lin, with 176,000 unwanted and unhomed horses in this country what in the world makes you so paranoid to think someone would risk criminal conviction while trespassing on your property to steal a horse??? When it is as simple as pulling up to the backside of ANY track and picking up those horses for free and legally.

      Horse slaughter is a second thought to a MUCH bigger issue which is unregulated breeding practices and no responsibility for those breeders (and trainers/owners) at the track.

      The breeding industry, specifically when geared toward the TB racing industry, is a MULTI MILLION dollar entity. Until these people are made to pay where it hurts most (their wallets) these horses will uffer as unwanted commodities.

      Too little rescues and the ones we have are FULL and more importantly they are BROKE. And this is where abuse concerns come in. It is MUCH more humane for a horse to be slaughtered than to starve to death in some well-intentioned, bleeding heart person’s backyard.

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  • December 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm
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    This makes me very sad. I still cannot grasp the reason why we would allow this to happen to these animals.

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  • December 28, 2013 at 5:27 pm
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    As A Tax.Payer d A pet Owner, I Will Not Condone My Hard Earned Money Being bleD From My Paycheck To Fund Horse Slaughter nor Will I Tolerate The Meat Just Accidentally Sloping Into Our Food Chain. I Totally Disagree With The Argument That Horses are Livestock. Too Many Times, They Are Referred To As Companion Animals. They Are Not Taxed As Livestock.They Are Not Eligible Foot The Subsidies That Other Livestock Are. They Are Not Medicated Under The Same Rules As Other Animals That Are Raised For Human Consumption. They Aren’t Even Slaughtered Under The Same Classification Or Rules As cattle Or Sheep. Horse Slaughter Plants Are Fraught With Violations. Even The Actual Process ViolatesThe AMVA Use Of The Captive Bolt. A Professional Animal Behaviorist Even admitted That There Is No Humane Way To Slaughter A Horse. In This Economy, We Don’t Need More Drain On Us. Just Ban Horse Slaughter And The Transport Associated With It. There Are More Jobs And Money Generated By Live Horses Than There Ever Will Be In slaughtered Ones.

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    • December 29, 2013 at 6:33 am
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      Please please please post your address, so people can send some horses your way!!! It is sick to see horse taken from one facility to another because THEY can’t care for them!

      I raise halter horses, I have 2 broodmares that are 19 and 23 years old, both World and or National Champion producers, they will be laid to rest on the hill with my others that have gone already, but too many are abused and or neglected that need to be ” SET FREE ” of this!

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    • December 29, 2013 at 10:15 am
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      Your hard earned tax dollars are not funding horse slaughter. As a matter of FACT, SLAUGHTERHOUSES PAY FOR THE USDA INSPECTORS AT THE FACILITIES! They pay the US government inspection services fees and the Gov issues the checks to the USDA inspectors out of those fees. You aren’t paying a damn dime so stop shouting…instead why don’t you try looking at some facts, and not making decisions based on shit that HSUS sends you in thier fundraising missives? ( of which they spend less than 1% on actually “saving” any animals!!) And for the record, horses have been consumed for meat by humans for roughly 10,OOO years…much longer than they have been considered domesticated livestock, much less as “companion” animals, which factually they are not. In every single state in the United States of America, horses are considered LIVESTOCK and prior to the 1930s they were commonly processed for human consumption both in the US and abroad, and are even raised as meat animals in some countries today ( France, Canada and Belgium notably, where horsemeat is considered equal or superior to beef.)

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      • December 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm
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        Sheila you lie again. Slaughterhouses cannot pay for their own inspections by law. They tried it a Caval in Illinois in 2007 the district court ruled that they cannot do that. You keep saying people should check facts. well I think you are factually challenged.

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      • December 29, 2013 at 4:45 pm
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        Sheila, you have no idea what you are talking about. USDA Inspectors are paid by the Government. It is illegal for plants to pay for their own? Ever hear of the fox guarding the hen house?

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      • December 31, 2013 at 5:55 am
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        Sheila,

        You are totally misinformed. No facts in your post. Very sad.

        Linda

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      • December 31, 2013 at 8:48 pm
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        Dear Sheila,
        Please look at the past history of the slaughter plants in Tex/Ill. They didn’t pay taxes, being foreign. They didn’t pay their millions of dollars in fines/penalties and yes, they were subsidized by the US Gov. The pitence in inspection fees is quite a modest fee and the few employees hired, at low wages, isn’t enough to boost any economical gain. The type of employees hired isn’t exactly your blue collar worker either, mentally, socially or ethically.
        Maybe in the 1930’s horse’s were considered livestock but don’t forget, Depression, then wars etc. In that time period, horse’s were probably one cheap source of meat, true but those days are LONG gone.
        Horse stealing is a constant threat. I know the local papers do not cover stories of the horse’s stolen but there are other facits that do. It’s a fact that recently the horse stealing practice seems to be getting more common and it’s not just in one state but many.

        I just happened to read Curt Lukens reply, I did not know that slaughterhouse’s cannot pay for their own inspections by law. Guess that means that we do, either local taxes/state/Fed.

        Don’t want to ruffle your feathers, do as you want but don’t ruffle mine either!

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      • January 2, 2014 at 8:13 pm
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        Goodness, at least take a stab at getting your facts checked before you blurt out rubbish. Sheila, as much as I don’t like to share this information with slaughter proponents, how do you think we got an injunction against Valley Meat the first time? We got an injunction because there was a government shutdown in place and there was no funding to pay for the MANDATORY GOVERNMENT-FUNDED USDA INSPECTORS. I was never so glad for a lack of government
        funding appropriations in my whole life!

        Oh and BTW, the HSUS spends between 15% to 20% on administration costs each year and has to report it in an annual report. They also report it to the Chronicle of Philanthropy for their annual report. Do you think they would get funding from so many of us who care about animals who are fiscally responsible if it were otherwise? I am very happy to help provide funding to them to file injunctions against such environmentally irresponsible businesses such as Valley Meat of Roswell, NM.

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      • January 3, 2014 at 1:21 am
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        Wrong again, Sheila. This has already been challenged and the federal court ruled that is a violation of the meat inspection act.

        As much as you’d like to have the fox guarding the hen house it’s against the law.

        Calling horses livestock, does not make them a food animal. US horses are not raised or regulated as food animals and should never enter the food chain.

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  • December 28, 2013 at 5:32 pm
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    This makes me sick. ANY slaughter is bad — cows, chickens, pigs, DOGS, CATS, ANY of it! Why would anyone want to do this to these wonderful animals? This has to be STOPPED!

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  • December 29, 2013 at 2:57 am
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    I am not going to argue with any of your points. I just want any of you to tell me a few things:
    1) What is YOUR plan for the 150,000 plus horses that are unwanted every single year? If they are not processed, what do YOU plan to do with them all, right now?
    2) Why do you want to doom these unwanted horses to an uncertain kind of death at the end of 1000 mile plus ride to Mexico or Canada?
    3) Why do you think that neglect, starvation and a slow death or a horrible trip to Mexico or Canada is better than trying to help set up a humane processing plant here in the states? If we can put men in space, I think we can make a safe, humane processing set-up for horses.
    4) Why do YOU think both the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) support processing plants over the status quo of letting thousands of horses literally starve in back pastures out of sight?
    Just give me reasonable and responsible answers to these questions and I will be on board to fight new processing plants.

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    • December 29, 2013 at 8:46 am
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      Availability of slaughter does not prevent neglect or starvation. The hoarder next door is a half hours drive from an equine slaughter plant and her herd of horses are in distress with the spca actually removing 5 last week.

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      • December 29, 2013 at 10:31 am
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        Actually Jean it does, and is demonstrated by the rapid increase in abuse, neglect and abandonment cases across the US. This is a fact, and the information was gathered by the American Horse Council, and non-biased third party entity that monitors horse-ownership activity across the US. The fact that you have a horse hoarder next door says nothing with regards to slaughter, but a lot with regards to you yourself. Have you asked what the problems are that she is having, that she isn’t providing “good care” ( and since you don’t know for a fact that there are not underlying health issues with these animals, you are being presumptuous in assuming that care is not being provided) Have you offered to help? I bet not, since that’s one of the hallmarks of “concerned parties” like yourself…don’t want to get involved if it means getting dirty or leaving your computer terminal. And don’t mistake the fact that an spca ( not THE ASPCA)stole her horses lead you to determine that there was actually anything that she was doing wrong…unlawful spca seizures are now a daily nightmare for all horse owners! The laws regarding livestock welfare are extremely vague and open for interpretation in most states, and that has led to many many many “seizures” that resulted in the horse owner losing their property and even often winning the legal case, but by then the spca groups has already SOLD ( yes, sold) their animals,and they cannot get them back….how about someone does that to you, and then we can see how you feel about spca groups. The woman next door to you may have mental health issues or she may even be a “rescue” since 501 rescues have very loose restrictions, and are often caught red handed abusing the very animals they are claiming to rescue…and they are tax exempt. So tax free cruelty for some, but unjust property seizure for others..that’s fair, right? Until it happens to you. BTW…unless you live within a 1/2 hour of the slaughter facilities in Canada or Mexico, your neighbor doesn’t live within a half hour of an “equine slaughterhouse”, since there are no slaughterhouses in the US that will process horses, thanks mostly to people like yourselves. Clueless, but unafraid to espouse your incorrect opinions, and to support groups like HSUS and PETA, whose agenda is to remove the right to own ANY animals at all. So if she and you are within 1/2 hours drive to an equine slaughter facility, then you are either Mexican or Canadian, and you have no business commenting on this subject anyway…

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        • December 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm
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          Gee Sheila, lets see a link to that report by the American Horse Council so we can check their numbers. I have a link for you this is the GAO report that has been shown to be fraudulent about the totals of abandoned and abused horses.
          forbes.com/sites/vickeryeckhoff/2013/08/08/gao-accused-of-fraud-as-horse-slaughter-plants-fight-to-open/

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    • December 29, 2013 at 10:16 am
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      You are my hero…a person who deals in facts and not sentimental horse hockey!

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      • January 2, 2014 at 8:44 pm
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        You want some facts Sheila?

        Here’s some facts about Valley Meat:

        Mr.De Los Santos has been convicted of everything from “crimes of moral turpitude” to Grand Larceny and falsifying information on federal and state permit applications and that’s only the personal history.

        It is not legal precedent to reissue a permit to an individual as president of a company who was convicted of prior violations of this magnitude. Yet this occurred.

        Here’s a charming sampling of the “failure to disclose discharges” section from the injunction that Front Range Equine, The Humane Society, et al, filed against the Secretary of Agriculture, et al,. These violations occurred when Valley Meat was a dairy cattle slaughter facility. It only exacerbated the problems when they switched operations to equine slaughter.

        From the transcript:

        Second, under subsection (b), in violation of the WQA, Valley Meat failed to disclose
        discharge changes to the NMED, opting instead to violate the WQA by not renewing/modifying the 2004 permit. Valley Meat failed to disclose to the NMED that it would cease to render remains of slaughtered cattle, and would begin disposing of offal by letting carcasses rot in piles atop concrete slabs. SWB NMED Report of Investigation, June 23, 2010.

        Under NMAC § 20.6.2.3107(C), the discharger “shall notify the secretary of any facility expansion, production increase or process modification that would result in any significant modification in the discharge of water contaminants.” Ceasing to recycle useful remains of cattle and instead piling dead bodies 15 feet high is indeed a process modification that would result in a significant modification in the discharge of contaminants. Previously, there may have been a slight risk of groundwater contamination from rendering processes, whereas after Valley Meat modified their process and ceased rendering remains, a single flood or stormwater event could flush any number of contaminants present in the rotting piles atop concrete slabs into the groundwater. Valley Meat failed to disclose information regarding the slaughter process modification in violation of both WQA regulation 20.6.2.3107(C) and the discharge permit requiring disclosure of changes to the amount or character of contaminants for a facility’s discharge.1

        The permit must be denied under NM Stat. § 74-6-5(E)(4)(b).

        Here’s the URL for further information:
        http://docs.burningbird.net/horse/courtcase/document153.pdf

        There’s plenty more: full waste water violation disclosures, collection lagoons that were not contained and leeched contaminants into groundwater, offal being improperly stored and erratic removal schedules for said offal. It’s a regular cornucopia of environmental hazards.

        They NEVER paid the fines for the infractions that they were found to have committed nor did they even have a valid waste water permit for nearly three years during their operation as a bovine and then equine slaughter facility.

        I haven’t even touched upon the humane issues and the violations regarding transport and holding pens for live horses that were observed at Valley Meat.

        Also review documentation of Dallas Crown Horse Slaughter environmental violations and town records of Kaufman, Texas if you want a microstudy on the debasement of an entire community due to the introduction of an equine slaughter facility.

        Here’s a link to Mayor Paula Bacon’s summation of life in Kaufman, TX when Dallas Crown was open:
        http://www.kaufmanzoning.net/mayorpaulabaconletter.pdf

        You can review the very transcript for the Groundwater Discharge Permit Hearing for Valley Meat that was held on Oct. 22nd, 2013, that is also available online. To say that there wasn’t a bias as to how the expert witnesses were questioned would be remiss. If you’re interested in the document you can obtain it from the NM state government documents site.

        We can be grateful to NM State Attorney General Gary King and his Ph,D, in environmental chemistry for having some understanding of how adversely this process affects the environment, never mind the countless and needless suffering of the equine subjects.

        Now how about we build you a cute little bungalow in Roswell, Sheila, say about a half mile downwind from a fully-operational Valley Meat?

        As much as I’d like to see you victimized by the environmental hazards of a slaughterhouse, Sheila,it is my hope that not ONE permit is ever issued to allow equine slaughter on domestic soil again. Furthermore, I will continue to advance and advocate for the cause until no US horse is ever exported for slaughter.

        And yes I spend my money and time on rescuing horses off kill lots and racetracks and finding them homes that will GUARANTEE that they never end up bound for kill buyers!

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    • December 29, 2013 at 10:59 am
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      ok Cheryl Bay then lets start a People “Human” Slaughter House the homeless are starving unwanted children are being beat & raped unwanted OH & lets not forget about the ignorant that should not be breeding unwanted did I leave any human out? hmmm???

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    • December 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm
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      1. The pro slaughter people always use the same number of unwanted horses as the number that went to slaughter. Kill buyers outbid regular buyers that want to give the horses a home. 92% of all horses going to slaughter are 3 to 7 years of age and fat and healthy. they don’t take old sick abandoned horses.
      2.If Plants open in NM or MO they still are going to have to travel hundreds of miles, ever hear of maine and florida and other states that are not adjacent to NM or MO.duh!
      3. I am sure you know your animals but as you should know Horses are fight or flight animals and in a slaughter situation there isn’t soft music playing and a quiet stall as you administer an injection to calm the animal before you inject the deadly drugs to euthanize it. There is brutality! There are underpaid workers that are trying to drive animals with prods and sticks. Horses that can hear the screams and smell the blood of other horses! They can’t restrain the horse in a squeeze chute or neck holds they would thrash and kick and could break their necks. when you try to put anything towards a horse’s face especially a terrified horse, they won’t hold their head still. Undercover videos and even 100’s of pictures taken at USDA inspected plants (yes these are at USA plants when they were still open) show horrible scenes. Look them up on the internet. Studies done at previous slaughter plants have shown multiple punctures in skulls 4-5 even 10 or more. Temple Grandin the so called slaughter expert watched one of these videos with one draft horse hit 11 times before it would go down and was still alive when they hoisted it by the back leg to slit it’s throat. She said that the extra hits were insurance. When they turned the sound up on the video they could hear the killer saying “eh you’re not dead yet”? The people in these slaughter plants are under pressure to keep the line moving, go! go! go! There is no such thing as humane horse Euthanasia.
      4. There are plenty of other veternarian associations and groups that strongly oppose horse slaughter you can find any such group that is for or against. The AVMA in particlular is associated with pro slaughter groups.

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      • January 3, 2014 at 5:57 am
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        One Veterinary organization that opposes horse slaughter is Veterinarians for Equine welfare.

        They have issued a White Paper stating their views.
        Here is the URL:

        http://www.vetsforequinewelfare.org/white_paper.php

        I have included the introduction for the edification of those commenting to this site who are interested.

        Introduction:
        Veterinarians for Equine Welfare (VEW) is a group of veterinarians committed to equine welfare, and as such we support measures to end horse slaughter including passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 1176). We are concerned about misinformation being transmitted to Congress and the broader public regarding horse slaughter. VEW believes that certain veterinary professional associations that are actively promoting horse slaughter are undermining our profession’s integrity and the welfare of the horses we care for. In so doing these organizations, of which many of us are members, erroneously purport to speak for our entire profession. Veterinarians should put animal welfare at the top of their list of priorities, not relegate it to an also-ran concern.

        There are others.

        One thing that must be kept in mind when discussing large lobbying groups such as The American Horse Council is that they are bound to keeping the horse in the category of “livestock” for many of their lobbying goals. If they want to remain consistent or maintain support on other issues, this categorization must be upheld. Therefore, due to funding streams, they would not oppose slaughter as this would cause them to create schisms and jeopardize alliances with other such agricultural lobbying groups such as The Cattlemen’s Association. Its primary function is to create and maintain revenue streams and to promote power in numbers when lobbying congress.

        http://www.unwantedhorsecoalition.org/

        They do have a sub organization; The Unwanted Horse Coalition. The coalition serves as an educational and referral organization that explores options for horses that are no longer needed by their owners.Here is the description of their activities from their web page:
        The Unwanted Horse Coalition, a broad alliance of equine organizations that have joined together under the American Horse Council, is concerned that some horses may slip through the various safety nets within the equine industry. Too many owners are unaware of, or do not give enough thought to, the available options, services and assistance available in the industry to help them ensure that their horse has caring and humane support throughout its life.

        Their mission doesn’t propose slaughter as a primary alternative,but doesn’t preclude it either.They look for other alternatives, citing slaughter as a last resort.

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    • December 30, 2013 at 6:32 am
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      Is your 150,000 “unwanted” figure based on the amount of horses that go to slaughter in Canada and Mexico? “Over-bred” would be more descriptive. Nearly 70% are Quarter horses bred by cowboy-wannabes, blindly paying AQHA to paper run-of-the – mill horses. Most of the rest are Thoroghbred Race-Track cast- offs breeding like there is no tomorrow. Endorsed by unethical Veterinarians because these people are their bread and butter.

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    • December 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm
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      cheryl you are so right but it is so hard to talk to these bleeding heart liberals,who dont even own a horse but want to tell us what is best for our horses

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    • December 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm
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      Heres your answer, because (in short response ) breeders will have no choice but to slow down “production”, which in turn will eliminate the “overpopulation”. Now mindyou dear, 1% of americas grandtotal of horses are currently being slaughtered……1%…..ok….now if the breeding is done on an as needed basis, in a very short time there will be a residual amount of homeless horses. We all know that pets die at some point and eventually we like to “replace” or “enjoy” another companion. (In this case im speaking of a horse). This in turn will bring up the value of all horses because of supply and demand. You see ,1% is a small amount compared to 99%. ..99% of americas horses arent being slaughtered at all. They die of many things natural and tragic and you get the point..i hope that helps you see from a horse “lovers” eyes. I will pray for you and the horses.sincerely

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  • December 29, 2013 at 3:19 am
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    The human race would not have progressed in the way it has were it not for the willing, good natured help of horses. The horse occupies a special place in our history and deserves our care and respect.

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  • December 29, 2013 at 4:13 am
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    I would have expected a much better article from Alex Brown, who is anti-slaughter and knows why it is both illegal and immoral in violating our animal welfare regulations AND our laws pertaining to food safety and exporting adulterated meat.

    I absolutely do not believe there is any contract with Belgium. The EU itself will not purchase horse meat from domestic plants, and Belgium of one of the most strident in demanding the banning of ANY horse meat from North America.

    I’m disappointed, Alex.

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    • December 29, 2013 at 10:44 am
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      Suzanne…fact check. You don’t know ANYTHING for a fact regarding any contract that they have with Belgium or any other country. Furthermore there is nothing immoral about consuming horseflesh, and many peoples and countries do on a regular basis. If you think that the EU will reject horsemeat from the US, after we get the slaughter industry up and running well, then you are delusional. As it is they buy US horsemeat now that is being processed in both Mexico and Canada, or did until very recently, as do Japan, China and several other nations. Three is absolutely NO proof that horsemeat is any more prone to adulteration than any other “industrialized” form of meat, and in fact it’s less likely to contain drug residues than either beef or poultry, and it’s a better meat for you than either ( less antibiotic resistant salmonella, no prion diseases, and horses are not fed antibiotics from birth to slaughter as are feed lot steers and battery raised chickens, all of which are strong potentials with beef or poultry) SO in short, I’m amazed that this article is as unbiased as it is, now that I know it was written by an “anti-slaughter” author! Maybe he’s finally woken up to the huge overpopulation, abuse, cruelty and abandonment problems we are not experiencing here in the US, LARGELY the direct result of the 2007 plant closures….if so it’s about time!

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      • December 29, 2013 at 2:28 pm
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        Why do proslaughterphiles always forget about Phenylbutazone a carcinogen that is given to just about every american hores or Ivermectin. Bute is not tested for properly it has to be tested from a samples of kidneys and Livers. These do not accompany the carcass to the EU but are left in some land fill in Canada or Mexico. Phenylbutazone is prohibited in any animal meant for human consumption and has no withdrawel period. Horses are not raised for food and are not kept in herd groups at one lccation so that their medications are regulated and noted like cattle or swine. Kill buyers have no record of what their horses they are bringing to slaughter have been given.

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      • January 3, 2014 at 1:25 am
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        Sheila, the US is not on the EU import list. They will not accept any horses from US plants. NONE. The US does not have an approved inspection program nor does it have any way to track medications given to equines. The EU requires passports on all horses over 6 months of age.

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    • December 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm
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      I think Alex did a great job of introducing slaughter to those who don’t have a clue. I am sure we will hear more from Alex in the future. It is an exhaustive subject with new legal opinions, case law and legislation arising weekly. Thanks Alex! And please stay abreast of it and bring us more!

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  • December 29, 2013 at 4:51 am
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    The brutality of the process alone should stop any efforts to legalize slaughtering.

    Slaughter is not humane euthanasia. Slaughtering horses is nearly impossible to do humanely. The Humane Slaughter Act requires the process utilizing a captive bolt be effective with one (1) shot to render the animal unconscious. Skulls uncovered from the plants open in the US until 2007 show the average animal had to be hit 5 or more times.

    Until they can perfect the process and demonstrate 100% humane treatment it has to be banned!

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    • December 29, 2013 at 10:58 am
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      Really, and you visited a slaughterhouse personally when? You know this for a fact how? Horse slaughter is governed by the same regulations that guide humane slaughter in other species, and for a fact, ALL other meat animals commonly used in the US are also flight/prey animals…no different than horses is many respects. So, if we can slaughter them humanely, then we can do the same for horses. Even Temple Grandin states that humane slaughter is possible for horses, an I expect she knows a heck of a lot more about it than you do. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you’ve never been to a slaughterhouse, that you are completely clueless about how slaughter takes place and the rules regulating it, and that you have never been present for any type of life ending event with a horse. I bet you buy all your meat from somewhere like Costco or Wal-Mart, and that you don’t even know it’s country of origin, much less how it lived and died. Here’s a clue for you…that burger came from a living sentient animal which has been just as important to the human race as the horse has ( people used Oxen long before they used horses)and that is also a flight/prey species, and one that is as intelligent as a horse ( and don’t get me started on swine…they make horses look like idiots in the intelligence department, but they are very tasty aren’t they? Easier to kill and eat a sentient intelligent animal if you can make it taste like bacon, right?) It didn’t arise from a test tube ( though that is in the works), it didnt just appear by magic in the cooler case pre-wrapped in cellophane and styrofoam…it was alive, it was slaughtered and processed and brought to you to eat, so that you might stay alive. Why should horses be any different? When you want to show us the factual reports ( meaning reports not gathered by HSUS or PETA, but by an unbiased third party or governmental body like the USDA) showing that the “average horse” required 5 or more stun shots before dying, I’d be interested to read it. I’m willing to bet though that no such report exists…and I’m not a betting gal normally. ( not that you would be able to tell from an unearthed skull whether the horse was rendered unconscious by the first shot or the fifth, but it makes a better story than one that assumes that the kill box worker preferred to be safe by using several shots, rather than cause an animal to suffer needlessly)

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      • December 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm
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        Temple Grandin the so called slaughter expert watched one of these videos taken at a Canadian slaughter plant One draft horse hit 11 times before it would go down and was still alive when they hoisted it by the back leg to slit its throat. She said that the extra hits were insurance. When they turned the sound up on the video they could hear the killer saying “eh you’re not dead yet”? The process of horse slaughter cannot be made humane she has said previously and has been said by various USDA inspectors and vets that have worked in the business. Sheila I can bet that you yourself have not visited a slaughter house.

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  • December 29, 2013 at 7:19 am
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    Someone, please, answer this question to me:

    Will the 20 horses waiting to be killed in Jan 1st die anyway? Will the slaughter be opened anyway until the sue is solved? Stay closed until case is solved?

    Are those 20 poor horses sentenced to die anyway?

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    • December 29, 2013 at 9:17 am
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      I’m sure Santos will send those horses to Mexico. He cares nothing for the animal, just the money. I hope this breaks him once and for all!!!

      Reply
  • December 29, 2013 at 8:53 am
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    If we don’t get the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 1094/S. 541) passed there are over 50K horses being stockpiled in holding pens costing the American tax payer $445.00 per year per horse that is a total of over 22 million per year we the tax payers are paying. These beloved horses are pure no meds of any kind run in their veins. The government will use this ploy to convince the remanding public these horses need to go to slaughter to recoup our money. If we can get the (SAFE) act passed it will stop all transportation and slaughter of all horses. Our friends in Canada are also working to pass Bill C-22 which will stop the slaughter of all horses there. This must be stopped we can be the voice for these beloved animals, please share please pass the word. I love my country but I sure hate the people running it.

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    • December 29, 2013 at 11:07 am
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      God you are so stupid…the 50K horses that you are referring to are BLM mustangs that have been gathered because they are overpopulated and destroying their range by overgrazing…that destroys that area for all other species as well, so they must be taken off the land permanently. Sad but that’s the truth, and you’d know that if you spent a few minutes looking it up. Furthermore, a large percentage of those animals are “third strike” horses that have been deemed un-adoptable for various reasons, and they ought to be either processed or euthanized, since keeping them in feedlot style pens is the cruelest thing of all as well as being very very expensive for taxpayers. They cannot be released, so maybe you need to put your money where your mouth is, and adopt 10 or 20, take them home, feed, house and vet them at a cost of around $1500/horse/year (or likely much more) until they pass on of “natural causes”. After you spend a few years around wild and often dangerous feral horses,as well as all of your disposable income, I bet you’ll begin to understand why the “wild” ( read feral, since there are NO WILD HORSES in the US, and hasn’t been for thousands of years, since Neolithic man hunted them to extinction)horse herds need to be managed for the good of the ecosystem as well as the good of the heard and other species that share their range.

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      • December 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm
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        The BLM has removed these horses from land that was designated for them so that welfare cattlemen could graze their 3 million cattle that do far more damage to the land then the horses. The BLM says there are no more then 35,000 left on public lands The horses in holding pens could easily be put back on land that was designated for them. I would quit your name calling and spreading of your lies it isn’t lady like.

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      • December 29, 2013 at 8:18 pm
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        Sheila, Mr. Lukens is correct. There are only between 35,000-50,000 wild horses, including the horses that have been rounded up in holding facilities. They have been blamed for the destruction millions of cattle have caused to our public lands. In a PEER report, the BLM recently undertook a $40million land assessment study, the largest ever undertaken. It was discovered the BLM excluded all cattle grazing data which rendered the $40million taxpayer study useless. They want to blame all the land damage their millions of cattle have caused on our 50,000 wild horses? Wild horses move around when they forage and eat several different types of plants that cattle do not. They also live on their legally designated land. They are supposed to be protected but that is not what has been going on for some time, though BLM Director Jim Baca tried to expose what was going on with our Wild Horses and Burros in 1997. Unfortunately, a federal judge ‘blinked’ from a threat by the same people Mr. Baca was trying to expose and Mr. Baca was forced to resign. (See PEER reports Whitepaper titled ‘Horses To Slaughter’. Also read investigative report by Martha Mendoza, an international Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, in the LATimes, 1997). It is the wealthy cattle and fracking interests that have influenced our BLM and have been sending OUR Wild Horses and Burros to slaughter for years. Now, they have rounded them all up into holding facilities. All long term holding facilities are privately owned by cattlemen. Those cattlemen make $500 per horse per year to care for them. The BLM is also paying these cattlemen $625,000 for their grazing permits per 500 horses. There are 13 of these LTH facilities in OKlahoma – one in SD, one in WY, one in NV, one in IA and 2 in KS along with several short term facilities. Then there are the new eco-sanctuaries which are partnerships with the BLM. These are privately owned too. These people are also paid by the BLM(taxpayers) but advertise for the American taxpayer and tourists to come and pay $40/hour to take pictures of their own Wild horses and Burros! So, the American taxpayer is paying them to look after their own horses and then the facilities are charging the American taxpayer to come and see their own Wild Horses. Is this legal?……. Okay, Sheila, lets start doing the math. If the BLM had simply left our horses on their own legally designated land and gave them back the 22 million acres they have taken away from them in the past decades, there would have been no cost and our horses would not have had to be rounded up with many dying from falling and sustaining broken legs, necks, pregnant mares falling and giving birth, baby foals left on the range dying without their mothers and horses being run off into ditches, hit by helicopters, run into barbed wire fences…..instead, they would all be alive and free on THEIR own land with THEIR families. But, if they had been left out on THEIR land, lets look at who would not have made lots and lots of money…..the cattle grazers, the long term and short term holding facility owners, the Cattoor helicopter company, the Sun roundup company, all the transport trucks, the feed vendors, the vets who have been sterilizing all our wild horses and euthanized the poor seriously injured horses from the roundups, the rendering people who disposed of the evidence of abuse during the roundups, the attorneys, the lobbyists, and yes, of course, the kill buyers. What is illegally going on with our Wild Horses and Burros is genocide and your friends, the cattle industry is making a big fat bundle….all courtesy of the US Taxpayers. Then you have the nerve to say the poor taxpayers are paying all this money to house these horses who are destroying our public lands…. because you want Americans to agree with you and your cattle friends, Sheila, to send them to slaughter. But, that is NOT what the American people want. Of course they can be released. The cattle grazing industry has killed off all the wildlife on our public lands, they built diversions from the waterways to their cattle. The frackers have left wells leaking into pools of chemically treated water that is open to wildlife. They have no respect for the land and no respect for wildlife. They don’t appreciate the privilege they’ve been given and pay a pittance of market value for and they take and take and take. It is the American people’s public lands and our beloved wild horse and burros designated lands. The leases and permits livestock grazers have been given are not a Right and can be revoked at any time. I think it IS time. The cattle grazing industry has destroyed our public lands, killed our wildlife, and are now removing our beloved wild horses for profit. Are you proud of that? And where is Congress?

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      • December 29, 2013 at 9:15 pm
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        Sorry but this stupid bint must be married to a kill buyer!! Go look on Mary nash’s horsemeat website to see how humane horse slaughter is.

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      • January 3, 2014 at 1:32 am
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        Sheila, are you also complaining about the HUNDREDS of millions of dollars that tax payers are forced to pay so the welfare ranchers can run their private businesses on public land? The cost of the wild horses pales in comparison. If you don’t want to pay for the Mustangs, why should we have to pay for the cows?

        Once again, you haven’t done your research. The horses are indeed wild and have been proven so by DNA and the ever increasing fossils they are finding.

        Quit drinking the Wallis/Duquette Kool-Aid, it’s dulling your ability to separate fact from fiction…

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  • December 29, 2013 at 9:15 am
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    The PSA’s drag out the old lie every time this issue comes up. I have yet to see an unwanted horse and will probably never see one. Horse slaughter does not drive the price of horses, it never has. As for the AVMA and the AAEP condoning slaughter, how much money are they going to make off of a dead horse, none. Why they condone slaughter is beyond me. The AQHA also condones slaughter and continues to breed, breed, breed all so they can send the culls to slaughter as a convenient way to get rid of the horses that don’t make their breed standards. Since they’ve already bred the foot off a Quarter horse it makes sense to them. The horse breaks down,put it down, don’t send it to slaughter, it’s inhumane no matter what the proponents of slaughter want you to believe. If you haven’t read how horse meat was slipped in to the food chain in Europe you won’t mind slaughter in this country since we will be eating it unknowingly. This needs to be stopped. De Los Santos has been fined many times for the conditions at his plant when he was killing cattle, why let him start up again with horses. Look at the pictures of huge lakes of blood, huge piles of carcasses, and the ways he polluted the landscape around his plant. Go read Jerry Fitch’s articles on horse slaughter if you want an informed opinion on the con’s of it.

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    • December 29, 2013 at 11:16 am
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      Really, because I have 20 unwanted horses right here in my pasture…I can’t give them away, and I spend around 15K a year feeding them. I used to raise, train and sell them, but since the horse market, and the economy in general, is in the toilet and since there is a huge glut of horses that can’t find homes, most horses aren’t worth what it costs to feed them. No I wasn’t a back yard breeder, nor was I a huge producer, preferring to breed a few very nice prospects targeted for Combined Training, but it put me out of business anyway. The idea that “you’ve never seen an unwanted horse” is a load of crap, ecause you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a neglected,abandoned or starving horse in many areas of the country, so my guess is that you simply aren’t looking ( which means that you also aren’t involved in rescue or re-hab or any other “humane” way of handling the 150K unwanted horses per year that used to go for meat, but that now have no place to go, nobody to care for them and no value. Nice work. As for the AVMA and AAEP supporting humane slaughter…that because they are on the front line, and they DO see it, all the time. And I speak for experience on both that front, and also as a former rescue/rehab trainer. You haven’t got a clue, and to suggest that Vets support slaughter because they want to make more money makes me want to barf on your shoes.

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      • December 29, 2013 at 2:49 pm
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        Why do you have 20 horses? You are certainly not a successful breeder. I have traveled all over the midwest in the last few years and have only seen one thin horse. But it was in a herd of other fat and healthy horses so I am assuming it was old. Check the agencies of states that do the recording of horse abuse or abandonedment we have checked several states There are not very many documented cases of actual abandonedment or abuse. So Sheila quit spreading your lies and show us some documentation.

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        • January 3, 2014 at 1:49 am
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          Curt, Sheila knows the truth but she’ll never admit it because it blows all their arguments out of the water. No one has to believe us. All they have to do is pull the state records and they’ll see that abuse and neglect has decreased since the US plants closed.

          The GAO report that they all use to support the lie, used data from 2005 & 2006 when the plants were open to make their case. Had they used data from the period the report was supposed to cover 2007-2010, there was a decrease so they fraudulently used data from outside the report parameters.

          They all know the report was cooked because none of then will answer why data from years the plants were open was used.

          Also, none of them will answer where the thousands of horses are that were rejected by the plants. The kill buyers are abandoning them and then they complain about abandoned horses. This is a perfect example of not being able to trace US horses.

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      • December 29, 2013 at 5:12 pm
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        Sounds like Sheila got a hold of some horses in hopes of slaughter opening. Now it is taking too long and Sheila doesn’t want to feed them. Typical backYard breeder. Do yourself a favor Sheila , give them away or kill them yourself and fill up the freezer. He’ll may freeze over before De Los Santos fulfills your fantasy.

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  • December 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm
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    It is unethical to dump horses with legal and illegal drugs banned by the FDA in all other food producing animals into the human food chain. Horses are considered companion pets in order to receive the 115 veterinary drugs banned by the FDA in all. Other food producing animals. The United States horse industry does not treat horses as food animals although the pro slaughter faction loves to call them livestock. The food chain is not a convenient dumping ground for the American horse industry.

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  • December 31, 2013 at 5:21 pm
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    Stop breeding horses.they will become more valuable when the wreckless breeding practices stop. It shouldnt take long to see dramatic results.

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  • January 1, 2014 at 5:20 am
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    OMG, I can’t take it anymore. Sheila calling people stupid because they are anti-slaughter? Are you kidding me? Sheila, feral = wild. Look it up in the dictionary. Horse slaughter is not humane and asking people if they have been to a slaughter house is ridiculous. There are enough videos out there to make people puke without witnessing it first hand. There is a difference between a cow’s head and a horse’s head when it comes to the bolt. It’s not rocket science. I just read on the Paulick Report that a judge blocked the opening in New Mexico tomorrow. YEAH! I live in upstate New York. I donate money to local rescues. I have contacted my Senator’s who are on the house committee in regard to the SAFE ACT. AMERICANS DO NOT EAT HORSES. Maybe Sheila should move to FRANCE?

    Reply

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