Handful of Legislators Condemn Our Horses to USDA Approved Abuse With OUR TAX MONEY

AWI Press Release: Handful of Legislators Condemn Horses to USDA Approved Abuse

Jack Kingston

Washington, D.C. (November 15, 2011) – It would appear that some in Congress are all talk when it comes to seriously reducing federal spending and decreasing the size of  government.  Despite overwhelming objections from the American public and the horse community, and despite Congress’ own supposed belief in fiscal restraint, the fate of America’s horses was undermined by three Members of Congress and their staffs behind closed doors this week.  For years, an amendment to the annual Agriculture Appropriations bill has prevented tax dollars from being used to “inspect” horse slaughter facilities in the U.S.   The House of Representatives voted this year to again include it in the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, but three members of the Conference Committee, Representative Jack Kingston,
Herb Kohl
Roy Blunt

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) , removed it from the final bill.  A fourth member of the Conference Committee, 

 Representative Sam Farr (D-CA), was the lone objector.

Sam Farr

“I have been in Washington for a long time and this move baffles me.  Both parties talked about making the hard cuts in federal spending and yet behind closed doors, three of the four men thought it was a good use of taxpayer dollars to ignore their colleagues and restore a federal program that will cost Americans at least $5 million a year and pull limited USDA inspectors from ensuring the humane treatment and safety of our nation’s food supply. To make matters worse, this was all done to appease a few foreign companies and Big Ag,” said Chris Heyde, deputy director of AWI’s government and legal affairs department.  “This action shows the true nature of some elected officials—that they are more concerned about helping special interests than doing what they were elected to do.”

Some legislators are trying to disguise what they did as helping the horses, but there is substantial evidence of horses suffering at taxpayers’ expense when slaughter was permitted in the U.S. While a recent GAO report attempted to connect an increase in abuse to a cessation of horse slaughter in the U.S., the authors noted that there was no actual proof other than claims put forward by pro-horse slaughter proponents. 

With this cynical move, there is now only one avenue left for ending the tragedy of the slaughter of horses for human consumption:  Swift action on the GAO’s other recommendation—passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. 

“AWI commends Representative Farr (D-CA), ranking member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, for being the sole member of the Conference Committee to stand up for America’s horses and fiscal responsibility,” noted Heyde.  “We look forward to working with Representative Farr and other Members of Congress on passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.”

The Animal Welfare Institute is calling on everyone who has horses and cares about the welfare of America’s horses to demand that Congress pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act immediately.

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Advantages of horse ownership discussed at Ranch Management University

Advantages of horse ownership discussed at Ranch Management University - North Texas e-News
By Blair Fannin, Texas A&M
Oct 30, 2011
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COLLEGE STATION – Most ranch owners don’t realize the significant impact horse ownership and its contributions have on the Texas economy, according to an equine specialist.

The Texas horse industry has a statewide economic impact of more than $5.2 billion a year, said Dr. Clay Cavinder, an assistant professor of equine science at Texas A&M University.

Cavinder was one of several speakers at the recent Ranch Management University at Texas A&M.
Dr. Clay Cavinder

Dr. Clay Cavinder, assistant professor of equine science at Texas A&M University, discusses horse ownership at the recent Ranch Management University program. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

“Ranch Management University provides a foundation of knowledge for those who are new to owning land in Texas,” said Dr. Larry Redmon, workshop coordinator and Texas AgriLife Extension Service state forage specialist.

The program features numerous experts in specific disciplines from AgriLife Extension, Texas AgriLife Research and faculty from the department of animal science at Texas A&M.

“Horses are valued at $4.2 billion just in the state of Texas,” Cavinder said. “In terms of comparison with other industries and their effect on the GDP, we are on the same level as the motion picture industry, apparel manufacturing and tobacco industry. So, the horse industry brings a lot to the table.”

Annual expenses are roughly $2,300 for the horse owner when calculating feed, health and other requirements, Cavinder said.

Trail riding, one of the more popular activities, has many benefits with regards to physical fitness, family participation, as well as an emotional outlet for disabled individuals.

Cavinder said individuals also enjoy ‘horse chores’ such as cleaning stalls and use it as an emotional outlet.

A majority of horses now are owned for recreational purposes; most horse owners are not from a rural background.

“In the 1930s, the horse population declined due to the advent of the automobile,” Cavinder said. “Today, the horse population is going back up. People are owning horses for the sheer fun of it. There are a lot of 20-year-olds that grew up having horses, but their parents weren’t that involved with it. Their grandparents were likely more active in it.”

Horse ownership carries with it benefits, as well as responsibilities, he said. Food, water and shelter are three basic responsibilities of horse ownership, according to Cavinder. Nutrition is the largest annual maintenance expense for the horse and is also one of the most neglected aspects of horse care.

The digestive system of a horse is that of an animal that was created to run and move and eat roughage.

“Colic is the No. 1 killer of a horse,” Cavinder said. “Because it can’t vomit, it creates a different set of problems here (that can lead to colic). We do not want to create a digestive upset.

“Because we’re feeding horses concentrate diets, we do have to consider a few special things like distances and time between feeding. If you feed at seven in the morning, feed at seven at night. If you look at the statistics, there’s millions of dollars spent on treating colic.”

Cavinder said a set, routine feeding time each day will help prevent digestive problems.

Horses don’t have gall bladders, which in humans emulsify fat, so they can’t be fed low quality forage, Cavinder said.

“This is why we have to feed nice, high quality feed or hay. A horse doesn’t have the ability to break down and utilize roughage that is very high in structural carbohydrates.”

Cavinder advises rotating grazing of pastures to allow plants to grow before grazing.

“Wait until the forage reaches 3 to 4 inches, then clip the pasture for growth,” he said. “If a pasture gets to the point where there isn’t forage, then throw hay out there.”

Cavinder also advises monitoring horses in the barn and observing their behavior for signs of sickness.

“I always tell students when walking through the barn, don’t neglect to look at other horses,” he said. “When they are sick, they look depressed. They’ll have their ears drooped back and head down.”

Registration is already being taken for the next Ranch Management University program scheduled April 9-13. For information, visit https://agriliferegister.tamu.edu/ and enter “Ranch Management” as the keywords.

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Texas A&M Transport Violations: Deluxe Transport to Slaughter But Horse Found Dead

Texas A & M fined for transport violations: Deluxe transport to slaughter but horse found dead

AA has gained information through a Freedom of information Act Request (FOIA) that powerfully underscores the cruelty of horse slaughter on U.S. soil. Under the most ideal conditions possible - including watering stops during single-deck transport, less packed conditions and multiple cameras with a team of monitors - a horse died in the bottom of a trailer during transport. The study adds to ever increasing evidence that demonstrates horse slaughter cannot be 'improved' into something that is humane.

Texas A &M Truck
Truck & trailer used for transport
The subject of the FOIA is a graduate program study orchestrated by Texas A&M University veterinary professor Dr. Ted H. Friend. The USDA paid for the study. A kill buyer was chosen and TX A&M transported his horses for free to the slaughter plant. The study was designed to 'improve' transport to slaughter by "relieving transport stress." Specifically, the study was to document the effect of providing water to horses in transport at 8 hour intervals.
In his statement, Dr. Friend said that 8 hours was, "the most frequent interval that we could reasonably expect truckers to stop to water horses." USDA regulations require checking all horses every six hours.
The researchers would also be taking blood samples to monitor stress levels in the horses. However, no blood sample was taken from the horse that later died.
Monte Clark of CO, a well known kill buyer, was the owner of the 26 horses. Texas A&M acted as shipper/transporter of the horses, moving them at no charge from Hudson, CO to Dallas Crown in Kaufman, TX.
Conditions were as ideal as possible. There had been several practice runs before the study began. A&M used a specially outfitted trailer with 12 video cameras, lighting and watering system.
There were 2 drivers instead of the usual 1 seen on most hauls, and 3 graduate students that followed the trailer to monitor the cameras and water the horses. The professor stated that "our densest compartment [of the trailer] could be increased by 60% and still be under what the USDA considers to be acceptable density."
Trailer Overview
Inside of trailer
As unlikely as it sounds, all involved stated that cameras and lighting in the trailer "malfunctioned" where the dead horse was, though the cameras in other parts of the trailer continued to work properly.
AA believes it is due the presence of a USDA APHIS inspector at the slaughter plant that documentation of the incident exists. He stated that he "overheard" a graduate student telling the plant manager a trailer with a dead horse had arrived. APHIS inspectors are responsible for enforcement of transport to slaughter regulations (9 CFR, Part 88).
In his affidavit it is the driver who most frankly describes the journey's start. He seems more in touch with the condition of horses as they were being loaded in CO than the 'experts', recalling,
"[S]ome horses had cuts above their eyes or cheeks. The horse that fell was one of our main concerns. He did not seem to be in too good of health. He was walking real slow and hair was fallen out. But [ the] owners son, if I am not mistaken said the horse would be alright for the trip....I may not know too much about horses, but I myself know when one is not in good health...."
Dead horse in trailer
Dead horse
Graduate student 1 seemed far less concerned with any horses' welfare. In his affidavit he states Clark let him select additional horses from his "cripples pen", choosing the "healthiest soundest looking horses." However, as they began loading he sees the horse that would die in transport urinate, "the urine looked highly saturated with blood." The student said that later 'Monty' commented that the horse was "going to the right place." The student also states that after they arrived at Dallas Crown and found the dead horse, he told Chris the manager; "He did not seem surprised so I assumed this was a fairly common occurrence."
Student 1 ends his affidavit by saying, "Many of the horses transported to slaughter look pretty bad and this one [the horse that died] did not look any worse off than the majority. I know in the future we will not be transporting any horses that have blood in their urine."
A second graduate student gave an affidavit and also describes the pen of horses with "lower limb deformities". He remembers that the palomino gelding in question had "abnormally long, curly hair" and "appeared lethargic". However, neither of the graduate students in veterinary medicine hesitated when the decision was made to load this horse.
slaughter tag
Slaughter Tag
The trip took approx. 18 hours with one stop for watering the horses in Amarillo. Temperatures inside the trailer reached 97 degrees. Texas A & M was later fined $2,000 for failure to "at least once every six hours check on the physical conditions of all horses," and for incomplete owner/shipper certifications showing any prior conditions of the horse that arrived dead.
During the stop in Amarillo, the students monitoring the cameras stated they were having problems with the lighting system of the trailer and did not notice any horses down in the trailer.
According to the APHIS inspector's affidavit, he "did not ask if there was any [video] tape of the horses or the dead horse" received that day. No explanation was provided. Nobody took blood samples from the dead horse.
A university study with watering stops, lower loading density and video camera monitoring, select horses, yet still a horse dies during transport - How bad is the reality of typical transport to slaughter with nothing that approaches such luxuries? These transports were planned for months, test runs were conducted at the university and graduate students in veterinary medicine were monitoring the horses' welfare en route.
Still this poor horse died a grim death. According to Monte Clark, the palomino was, "going to the right place." No doubt giving horses water is an improvement, but does it make horse slaughter humane? According to every bit of evidence Animals' Angels has gathered since 2006, the answer is unquestionably No.

This is from Animals' Angels the famed international animal welfare organization that gets the story. Follow this link to their web site to find many more stories just as shocking as this one. This is a wonderful organization to help if you possibly can.


Mr President, You Promised!

During the 2008 campaign President Obama  said, “Federal policy towards animals should respect the dignity of animals and their rightful place as cohabitants of our environment. We should strive to protect animals and their habitats and prevent animal cruelty, exploitation and neglect…. I have consistently been a champion of animal-friendly legislation and policy and would continue to be so once elected.”   President Obama  announced that he  had co-sponsored legislation to stop the sale for slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros. During the 2008 campaign President Obama  signed on as co-sponsor to the bill to ban horse slaughter for human consumption. When asked specifically during the campaign, “Will you support legislation …to institute a permanent ban on horse slaughter and exports of horses for human consumption“,  President Obama  gave an unqualified “Yes“. (HSLF questionnaire)
Now is the time for President Obama  to keep that campaign promise.  The supporters of this predatory, cruel and inhumane practice of slaughtering horses have wrapped their arguments up with the flag, motherhood and apple pie.  They have lobbied extensively for the return of slaughter to the U.S. and the continued exports of equines for slaughter for human consumption. They even controlled a June, 2011 GAO report which has been refuted as based on misinformation, unsupported opinions and untruths. Go here and here.

PLEASE SEND THE FOLLOWING LETTER, PROVIDED BY  ANIMAL LAW COALITION  and  EQUINE WELFARE ALLIANCE  To President Obama, Your Senators and Your Representatives.  All Contact Information is provided at the bottom of the letter.


Signatures of more than 6,000 Americans on a White House petition to ban the slaughter of equines for human consumption have been presented to the Obama Administration.  The Obama Administration told us that if we gathered 5,000 signatures on a White House petition, the issue would receive consideration. We actually collected 5,000 signatures very quickly, at least 2 weeks before opponents were able to gather the same number of signatures for a petition started earlier to revive horse slaughter in the U.S.  Of the 4 petitions created by mid-October regarding horses, the slaughter ban has collected the most signatures.
Thousands more Americans have sent letters directly to the White House over the past 3 years and still more have directed letters to their senators and representatives in Congress in an effort to end equine slaughter for human consumption.
We know from a 2006 Public Opinion Strategies poll that nearly 70% of Americans support a ban on equine slaughter. A CNN poll that same year showed a similar result. The support among Americans for a ban on equine slaughter for human consumption has grown: Currently, according to the Popvox poll, 77% of Americans support pending legislation, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, H.R. 2966/S.B. 1176, which would end the slaughter of American equines for human consumption.
I  hope the Obama  Administration will see this issue as paramount to human health and safety.  It is also about saving communities from a predatory and environmentally and economically devastating practice. It is about stopping terrible cruelty and suffering of animals who are our companions and pets; they helped build this country and still work in the military and law enforcement and provide therapy as well as entertainment in horse racing, shows and other sports and exhibitions. They are not raised for food.
During the 2008 campaign you (President Obama) said, “Federal policy towards animals should respect the dignity of animals and their rightful place as cohabitants of our environment. We should strive to protect animals and their habitats and prevent animal cruelty, exploitation and neglect…. I have consistently been a champion of animal-friendly legislation and policy and would continue to be so once elected.” You (President Obama)  announced that you had co-sponsored legislation to stop the sale for slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros. During the 2008 campaign you (President Obama)  signed on as co-sponsor to the bill to ban horse slaughter for human consumption. When asked specifically during the campaign, “Will you support legislation …to institute a permanent ban on horse slaughter and exports of horses for human consumption“, you (President Obama)  gave an unqualified “Yes“. (HSLF questionnaire)

Now is the time to keep that campaign promise, Mr. President.  The supporters of this predatory, cruel and inhumane practice of slaughtering horses have wrapped their arguments up with the flag, motherhood and apple pie.  They have lobbied extensively for the return of slaughter to the U.S. and the continued exports of equines for slaughter for human consumption. They even controlled a June, 2011 GAO report which has been refuted as based on misinformation, unsupported opinions and untruths. Go here and here.
The urgent reasons to ban equine slaughter have not changed, however, since you, (President Obama)  as Senator signed on as co-sponsor of anti-slaughter legislation:
1. The FDA does not regulate equines as food animals. Americans don’t eat horses and other equines.  American horses are not raised, fed and medicated within the FDA guidelines established for food animals, making them unfit and unsafe for human consumption. Equines are given all manner of drugs, steroids, de-wormers and ointments throughout their lives. Equines are not tracked and typically may have several owners. A kill buyer has no idea of the veterinary or drug history of a horse or other equine taken to slaughter, and many of the most dangerous drugs have no or a very long withdrawal period. A typical drug given routinely to equines like aspirin, phenylbutazone or Bute, is a carcinogen and can cause aplastic anemia in humans. It has no withdrawal period. The FDA bans bute in all food producing animals because of this serious danger to human health. The FDA and USDA would prohibit Americans from consuming horses because of this danger. Yet, neither the FDA nor the USDA prohibits the export of American horses for slaughter for human consumption.  It is a grave risk to public health to continue to allow the export of American horses for slaughter for human consumption in other countries.
2.  Equine slaughter has been devastating to the communities where slaughtering facilities have been located, with significant negative impacts including nuisance odors that permeated the surrounding towns to chronic sewer and environmental violations. Blood literally ran in the streets and waste from the facilities clogged sewers and piled up everywhere. This predatory practice produced few very low wage jobs, meaning workers and their families overran local resources like the hospitals and government services. This so called business brought in virtually no tax revenues and local governments incurred substantial enforcement costs in trying to regulate these facilities. The standard of living in these communities dropped during the time horse slaughter facilities operated. Good businesses refused to relocate there. As Paula Bacon, mayor of Kaufman, Texas during the time a horse facility operated there until 2007 said, “My community did not benefit. We paid.”
Recently, when officials in Hardin, Montana learned of a plan to build horse facilities in that state, the town council immediately unanimously passed Ordinance No. 2010-01 that prohibits the slaughter of more than 25 animals in a seven day period. The message is clear: Americans don’t want equine slaughter.
Equine slaughter has also been found to increase and abet horse theft in areas where facilities are located or horses are held for transport to slaughter.
3. Horse slaughter is not a means of controlling numbers of so-called unwanted, abandoned or neglected horses, but, rather, is a for-profit operation driven by a demand for horsemeat in some foreign countries. The USDA has confirmed more than 92% of horses that end up at slaughter are healthy; they are not unwanted, neglected or abused.  Kill buyers are interested in buying the  healthiest horses for horsemeat which is sold as a delicacy in some foreign countries.
The rise in numbers of horses in need and drop in horse prices is a result of the worst recession in memory. In fact, if slaughter controlled numbers of horses in need, there would be none as slaughter is still available and horses are sent to slaughter in the same numbers as before the 2007 closings of the slaughter houses that were located in the U.S. In fact, the availability of slaughter actually increases the numbers of excess horses and other equines on the market. Slaughter creates a salvage or secondary market that encourages overbreeding and adds to the problem of horses in need. Banning slaughter would reduce the number of excess horses and other equines.
Also, slaughter accounts for only about 3 cents for every $100 of the equine industry. It is absurd for anyone to suggest a limited salvage market could influence prices in the entire horse industry.
4. America’s iconic wild horses and burros which are supposed to be legally protected on public lands under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, have been illegally sent to slaughter, and, indeed, a Justice Department investigation has been launched to try to stop this. A ban on exports of horses and burros for slaughter for human consumption would greatly assist in the enforcement of this Act.
5. Equine slaughter is not humane euthanasia.  The slaughter of horses and other equines simply cannot be made humane: Dr. Lester Friedlander, DVM & former Chief USDA Inspector, told Congress in 2008 that the captive bolt used to slaughter horses is simply not effective. Horses and other equines, in particular, are very sensitive about anything coming towards their heads and cannot be restrained as required for effective stunning. Dr. Friedlander stated, “These animals regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck, they are fully aware they are being vivisected.” The Government Accountability Office and dozens of veterinarians and other witnesses have confirmed that ineffective stunning is common and animals are conscious during slaughter. It is simply not possible for USDA/APHIS to make equine slaughter humane and it is a myth to pretend otherwise.
6. The 2011 GAO report confirmed that USDA/APHIS has not – and cannot – enforce humane transport regulations for equines sent to slaughter. Changing a few words here and there in the regulations will not change this. USDA/APHIS allows the kill buyers and haulers to fill out and provide the documentation – which is routinely missing, incomplete or inaccurate – relied on for enforcement. It is impossible to enforce regulations when the information to determine violations is supplied by those USDA/APHIS is supposed to be regulating.
7. Equines are in danger and equine welfare is threatened as long as slaughter remains available, and only a federal law can stop exports of equines for slaughter for human consumption.
I would like to urge President Obama to keep that 2008 campaign promise and support the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, H.R. 2966/S.B. 1176, and am also asking My Senators and Federal Representative to CO-SPONSOR and Vote YES on H.R.2966 and S.B.1176.  Thank you.
(Your Name)
CLICK HERE TO SEND FREE FAXES TO YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES.  Faxes are sent from your computer.  You do not need a Fax Machine.  You do not need a Credit Card.
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USDA Picture of One Transport Violation at Beltex Corp. in Ft. Worth Texas 2005

USDA picture of  transport violations of Beltex Corp. in Fort Worth, Texas in 2005. There are 899 more pictures from Beltex just like this one. Is this your idea of humane? Picture obtained under FOIA request.


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Action Alert! Observations and Opinions of a Horse Killer (Parts 1 & 2)

These videos are interviews of a horse killer, who for decades, bought and shipped horses to slaughter for human consumption. He and his associates also rounded up Wild Horses for slaughter.
After leaving the business, his conclusion was that the entire industry was inhumane, cruel, lacking in transparency and with a profit margin was so small that it could never be regulated to be humane by any standards.That this was a business that was good for neither people nor horses.

In a word, exactly what we have been saying for 30 years. We have enough documentation to sink the Titanic, but somehow that is overlooked in favor the anti-slaughter disinformation - for which there is no documentation - that is parroted by the pro-slaughter horse registries like the AQHA and the Jockey Club and Big Agriculture as if ending horse slaughter for human consumption could somehow affect them.

I personally find it impossible to believe the entire animal/Ag industries can actually believe the scare tactics of the queen of slaughter mouthpieces, Ms. Sue Wallis and the so-called "United Horsemen" when they claim that we all are "animal rights radicals" bent on closing down all animal Ag and are paid by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and PETA. This is just too idiotic for words and I don't believe this "slippery slope" junk is actually taken seriously by Big Ag. However, it's a convenient excuse for whatever it is they are really afraid of - whatever that may be - and, who knows, it might be true, right?

Actually, no, it can't be true - not even close. But - for whatever reason - they seem to be willing to risk not only horrific cruelty to our horses, the health of consumers overseas eating the meat from a non-regulated non-food animal.They even seem to be willing to severely damage the credibility of our food safety regulations, and, in fact, our entire meat industry. If they can champion the continued export of horse meat that is tainted with numerous substances - phenylbutazone (bute) being the most widely known - without blinking an eye, why should we believe they would feel entirely differently about other contaminated meat products? I'm a confirmed beef eater, but anyone would have to wonder. Frankly, I find it shocking.

Even more shocking is the way these Deep Pockets industries can manipulate Congress to the point that they have been able to block any anti-slaughter legislation for years with no reasonable reason. When a small minority of the people in the horse industry can influence the animal/Ag industry to use their might to block the will of the great majority of Americans who consider the continuation of horse slaughter for human consumption - and that's what we're talking about here, human consumption - a disgrace, well, Houston, we have a problem.

Part 1

Part 2

I ask you in the strongest possible terms to send these videos not only to your own Congress people, but also to the leadership of both the House and Senate and the ranking members of the Committees where both S. 1176 in the Senate and H.R. 2966 are now sitting - and where they will stay, blocked like all the bills before them unless we let Congress know that 80% of the American people want horse slaughter for human consumption stopped and stopped now. Contact these people in Congress and continue to contact them about this issue. Our opponents may be a minority, but they are well organized and well funded. For all the info you need go to: POPVOX.com

 We however do have an huge advantage that the horse bleeders will never even understand. They are doing what they are doing for profit. We are doing what we are doing for our horses. And that makes all the difference in the world.
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"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra