Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cruelty investigation at Shipshewana Auction in Indiana

Shipshewana auction is located in one of Indiana's largest Amish communities. With around a half million visitors a year, tourism is big business in Shipshewana. AA investigators visited the Shipshewana auction on September 16, 2009. From the catwalk above the pens they filmed a young worker named Richard engaged in a "martial arts style" battle with a goat. The one-sided battle with the hornless goat went on for over three minutes. Whirling and kicking Richard hit the goat repeatedly in the nose, face and head with full force, followed by body blows and fists.
Watch the video...

We left the auction greatly troubled but determined. Our investigation proved that the handling of the animals at Shipshewana auction is completely unacceptable

and so brutal that auction workers violate Indiana's animal cruelty laws. IC 35-46-3-12 states that "to unnecessarily or cruelly strike an animal, or to throw the animal against an object causing the animal to suffer severe pain or injury" is animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor.

It seems obvious that Shipshewana employees have not received any or adequate training in the humane handling of animals - or the consequences of violating animal cruelty laws. No supervision by auction management was ever observed, making management at the Shipshewana auction appear equally culpable for negligent and inhumane treatment.

AA has filed a complaint along with supporting documentation of the incident with both state and federal agencies.

AA requested the following:
•that auction management and the young worker who violated Indiana animal cruelty laws are prosecuted for animal cruelty.
•that the young worker's employment by the auction is terminated immediately.
•that auction management has all employees thoroughly trained in the humane and legal handle animals.
•that auction management provides adequate supervision of employees to ensure compliance with animal cruelty laws and welfare standards.
What has happened:

AA was notified last week that the employment of the worker has been terminated. Furthermore, auction management has informed the rest of their employees that there is a zero tolerance policy for employees found improperly handling livestock and all employees have received additional training.

Monday, November 23, 2009

BLM Plan Could Make the Mustang as Rare as the Buffalo

By Steven Long
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Of the 14,000 wild horses the Bureau of Land Management will take from their wilderness homes next year, the agency will only return 2,200 to the wild.

A substantial number of the horses taken in BLM “gathers” will be mares. And of those, the agency says it will render 800 incapable of reproducing, or almost 40 percent of the heard strength returning to the wild. Equine geneticists claim the government’s plan is to eliminate wild horses from the American West in favor of cattle leases where ranchers pay a $1.35 per head per month.

Under this formula, there will be precious few Mustangs left in the West a generation from now. Wild horse lovers claim it is a rape of the national wildlife heritage comparable to the 19th century destruction of the buffalo herds that once roamed the land.

The BLM claims the horses are hard on the land, but currently there are only slightly more than 30,000 left in the wild according to the agency. That number is hotly disputed by animal welfare advocates. More than 1 million cows graze on the public acreage, yet the agency never complains of bovine damage to meadows and riparian areas.

The agency controls 262 million acres.

The government claims wild horses breed resulting in a 20 percent each increase in herd size each year resulting in an ever growing population. Yet entire foal crops are wiped out in some herd management areas each year by predators such as wolves and mountain lions. There are only slightly more than 60,000 wild horses left, and half are already in BLM holding pens eating government feed, hay, and grazing land at an ever growing cost to the taxpayer.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, (D) Louisiana, has called for the BLM to submit a report next year on how it plans to change what is currently perceived as gross mismanagement.

The agency says no herd management areas will be left bare of wild horses after next year’s roundups, however, anecdotal reports coming into Horseback’s offices this week tell another story. No wild horses can be found on a Nevada refuge after an October roundup, sauces say, yet the BLM claims horses are still there? Perhaps they are ghosts who only appear to government bureaucrats? Observers suffering from eye strain wonder.

The drug of choice to render mares incapable of reproducing is PZP. It is provided to the agency in a cozy deal with the Humane Society of the United States. Activists charge the nation’s largest animal welfare operation has a conflict of interest when it comes to wild horses.

Some have become increasingly aggravated with a perceived lack of action on the part of the HSUS, as well as the Washington based Animal Welfare Institute to halt BLM’s aggressive roundup schedule. In fact, HSUS applauded a BLM plan announced recently by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to remove wild horse herds from the west and place them as tourist attractions in the Midwest and East. Wild horse experts scoff at the plan.

Neither HSUS or AWI has lent their name or prestige to a petition demanding President Obama call a moratorium on BLM roundups of wild horses. The hard hitting petition has been submitted to the White House by The Cloud Foundation and the Equine Welfare Alliance.

Frustration with HSUS boiled over when EWA co-founder John Holland wrote last week to Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society, regarding the perception that the relationship with BLM appears to be too cozy.

“ Have you given any consideration to how HSUS is gradually being made more and more complicit in this rapidly expanding assault on our wild herds? Are you comfortable with that complicity?” Holland wrote. “It is now clear that the BLM is planning for the elimination or eventual extinction of the herds. I am deeply concerned that HSUS may be drawn into a ballooning potential scandal.”

Pacelle didn’t give Holland the courtesy of a reply, instead directing a wildlife scientist with HSUS to respond.

“The HSUS supports the use of contraception as a management tool to bring horses to, and maintain, viable populations on the range,” wrote Stephanie Boyles. “The HSUS does not support the gather and removal of any wild horse, except in cases in which the health or safety of an individual horse is in question, for which there is not the probability of locating an appropriate adoptive home.”

Sunday, August 16, 2009

American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign


America’s wild horses are being eradicated in violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act, which protects them as “living symbols” of our Nation's spirit. From over 2 million in the 1800s, fewer than 25,000 remain on our public lands. There are now more wild horses in government holding pens than remain in the wild. Still, the round-ups continue, and a recent change in the law opens the door to thousands being sent to slaughter.

Although in-the-wild management would save millions of tax-dollars, special interests have been successful in pressuring the government to systematically remove wild horses from public lands - specifically corporate cattle interests who want our horses replaced with private cattle for subsidized grazing.
AWHPC is coordinating a letter-writing campaign: In addition to signing this petition, it is important that you please send individual letters to your federal legislators calling for a Congressional inquiry into the government’s wild horse management practices. Tell them that our national heritage does not belong on European dinner tables.

For more information and to sign up for email updates, please visit

Please sign the petition

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Guilty by Association

Well, I was going to do a post about “emotional women” ("The AQHA leadership has always been pro-slaughter, and when their own polls revealed their membership wasn't, their own president blamed the results on ‘emotional women.’”) of whom I’m one, but after an email chat I instead opted to talk about the following...You know, it’s hard enough to think about horses getting slaughtered to make room for more, more, more (as in the AQHA making more money via more registration fees and more membership fees by getting rid of what's already here), much less realize an association as massive and well known as the AQHA—one who actually took steps to amend some of their rules to the benefit of horses... or was that only to quell public outcry?—have so little regard for their breed and all the regard for the almighty dollar that they advocate it. That begs the question: When they (the AQHA leadership) shot themselves in the foot because of it, did they also paint targets on their members, too? Let’s think about this. In the court of public opinion, owners of Quarter Horses/members of AQHA, and the association itself, are one and the same. So, guilt by association. An example might be the anti-fur movement, where folks don’t just target furriers but the individuals wearing it, to the point were people who owned it (even the homeless!) wouldn’t be caught dead in it. Now, instead of fur, it’s horse slaughter advocated by the Quarter Horse Association—the very association that’s suppose to tout and protect the breed, not push for the slaughter of it. What will the public think of it’s members now? They’ll never hear about the polls, or who agreed or disagreed with it, and they won’t stop to ask, either. One and the same, remember? Members are AQHA. Members did this. Members are the heartless bastards who will ride it AND eat it, baby. Hi ho Silver... and don’t forget the ketchup. Let’s take a moment to let this sink in. Can you say “manipulated” (as in even the pro-slaughter members were manipulated into thinking this was a good thing when all the while it was a money making venture from the beginning, something where everyone (including the cattle ranchers who are all set up and eager to turn into horse meat ranchers) wins EXCEPT the horse), folks? I know you can. I hate being manipulated. I hate being told one thing and find out it’s a whole other ballgame (or is that ‘market‘?). I hate being guilty by association, and I particularly hate that the Quarter Horse association painted it's own members as targets. By the way, how much do you think the AQHA cares about their breed when they’re advocating slaughtering them? Just curious. Oh. And while we‘re here, let this sink in too.And so it begins (note the blog’s name... and good on the blog owner for coming up with it and speaking out!). But that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I am, is pointing out that a really bad situation CAN get far worse. Yep, seems everyone’s jumping on the band wagon, including cattlemen who are being encouraged to see horse slaughter as yet another opportunity (others before being buffalo and elk, though with horses it’s a different ballgame, horses being an already established market—if they can’t sell it here, they’ll just ship it to Europe) to make a buck. So what's the alternative to slaughter? Stop backyard indiscriminate breeding. Stop thinking of horses as disposable. You bought it so you look after it for life. If you can't, then sell it to someone reputable who can. And, God forbid, if something happens to the horse to necessitate it's death, be strong enough to euthanize it instead of shipping it. At least that's my opinion.
Posted by Hawke at 9:42 AM

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Horse slaughter dream a financial nightmare

Horse gut piles at Natural Valley Farms, Canada
Contacts: John Holland
Vicki Tobin
Horse slaughter dream a financial nightmare
CHICAGO, (EWA) – The dream of the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) and its affiliate the MQHA (Montana Quarter Horse Association) to bring horse slaughter back to the US may have just been dealt what may be its death blow. The blow came not from anti-slaughter advocates, nor public revulsion, nor Congress, but from a horse slaughter industry insider whose op-ed, Meat plant: a cautionary tale, appeared on April 30th in the Western Producer, a subscription-only Canadian online animal agriculture journal.
Natural Valley Farms died the day the decision makers chose to kill horses”, says Henry Skjerven, an investor and director of the defunct Natural Valley Farms (NVF) slaughter complex in Saskatchewan, Canada. Skjerven tells the story of how NVF, which had originally been built to process cattle during the BSE crisis, ended in a $42 million financial disaster following its decision to kill horses for the Velda Group of Belgium.
The story broke just as the AQHA and Stan Weaver of the MQHA, were celebrating the passage of Montana bill (HB 418).
On April 5, EWA broke the news that the plant had been closed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in December. In his article, Skjerven refers to the plant’s confrontational interaction with the CFIA over the plant’s “composting” and other issues. Unlike beef that can be used in pet food, horse byproducts must be disposed of properly because they contain substances such as the wormer, Ivermectin, which can cause fatal encephalitis in some breeds of dogs.
Blood disposal appears to have been equally problematic for NVF as with other horse slaughter plants. Not only do horses have twice the quantity of blood as cows, but the blood is notoriously difficult to treat. The bacterial agents used in standard cattle digesters fail to provide acceptable discharge levels because of antibiotics often found in horse blood. As a result, pollution follows the horse slaughter industry where ever it goes.
During debate over HB 418, the Montana Senate Agriculture committee dismissed evidence of these problems as anti-slaughter propaganda. Even the testimony of former Kaufman, Texas mayor Paula Bacon was ignored when she told of blood rising into people’s bathtubs in her town. But unfortunately for NVF, the CFIA was not so easily assuaged.
Even Butcher has admitted that any horse slaughter plant that is built in the US will have to be operated by an EU group like Velda because the horse meat market is in Europe and they control it. Now Velda needs a new home, but in his op-ed Skjerven, says, “horse slaughter never brought a single minute of profitability to the company.”
In the end, it may not matter that HB 418 is unconstitutional, nor that a horse slaughter plant in the US could not export its horse meat without USDA inspectors, nor that the industry has committed a thousand sins against horses and the environment. If investors in a horse slaughter plant cannot be comfortable in knowing they will make a profit, there will be no plant built.
If Stan Weaver and the AQHA want horse slaughter they may have to do the killing themselves.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hundreds of Mustangs Rescued from Nebraska Ranch Ready for New Homes
Rescue Agencies and Volunteers Continue to Care for the ‘Nebraska 200’


CONTACT: Jerry Finch 409-682-6621

1 May 2009
Alliance, NE – More than two hundred neglected horses and burros found at a Morrill County ranch are now available for adoption through Habitat for Horses, a Texas-based equine protection organization.

On April 22nd, more than two hundred horses and burros were seized from Three Strikes Ranch, a private mustang facility just outside Alliance, Nebraska. An additional 74 animals were confirmed dead. Necropsy results on a number of these animals revealed significant fat and muscle atrophy, which is consistent with starvation.

Jason Maduna, the ranch’s owner, was arrested on one count of felony animal cruelty, but additional charges are expected. The animals are now recuperating at their temporary home at the Bridgeport Rodeo Grounds. The Humane Society of the United States, Habitat for Horses and Front Range Equine Rescue have been working alongside the Bureau of Land Management and area veterinarians to feed, treat, and assess the 220 animals, including a number of foals born since the seizure. According to Jerry Finch of Habitat for Horses, “the outpouring of support from the local community is humbling. From home-cooked meals for the volunteers, to hay provided by the local Farm Bureaus, we could not ask for more or better support.”

Of the 220 animals at the Fairgrounds, 22 have been identified by their owners and will be returned to them. The remaining animals are available for placement with qualified individuals or groups. Those interested, should contact Hillary Wood of Front Range Equine Rescue at 719-481-1490. The horses have all received a negative Coggins and have been dewormed, vaccinated and microchipped. Finch strongly cautions that they are looking for those with experience in handling and training wild mustangs. According to Finch, "these are not back yard ponies."

A dedicated website has been setup which includes photographs and descriptions of the available animals, as well as forms and contact numbers. For more information, please visit:

Donations are still needed to help cover the cost of medical care. Credit card donations can be made online at Donations can also be mailed to: Habitat for Horses, P.O. Box 213, Hitchcock, TX 77563. Please notate on your check and/or credit card donations that it is for "Nebraska 200 ". Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
Habitat for Horses (HfH) is a not-for-profit equine protection agency committed to the prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of neglected, abused and homeless horses. The largest organization of its kind in North America, HfH operates a rehabilitation ranch in Texas. The organization has taken a leadership role in horse protection issues and has been instrumental in developing and promoting legislation to eliminate the slaughter of American horses. To learn more, visit

Sunday, April 26, 2009


April 24, 2009

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the spotlight tonight, 21 polo horses die horrific deaths. Now reports claim these poor animals were given the wrong mix of a generic version of a banned substance. This story has touched so many hearts. But the reality is that many American horses who serve their riders loyally end up dying horrific deaths. Tens of thousands are transported from the United States to Mexico or Canada, then slaughtered and sold overseas as horse meat. We`re talking about horses that don`t win a race, or throw a rider, or just don`t look right. Or they got old. That's how they're transported, in those containers. The journey to the slaughter house is torturous. They`re stuffed into overcrowded containers, often deprived of food and water. Many dead on arrival. But there are two bills before Congress to stop all this. So call your Congress person, demand action. If you love horses, on the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, let's stop the transportation of our supposedly beloved horses for slaughter so people in other countries can eat them. Joining me is Lisa Land, senior vice president of communications for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Lisa, lay out the problem for us. And why is it that so many Americans are completely clueless that this is going on?
LISA LAND, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS, PETA: Well, you know, the death of horses in this country is not something that`s really publicized very well. More than 100,000 horses are sent to slaughter from the United States, and now transported across country lines into Mexico and Canada, as you said. It`s important to realize that a minimum of 12,000 of these horses are thoroughbreds, formerly raced thoroughbreds. Experts actually estimate that up to 50,000 to 60,000 of the animals slaughtered can be thoroughbreds. But the reporting is so bad that we don`t know the exact number. And you mentioned...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What are you saying? Are you saying that basically the racing industry is over breeding?
LAND: They`re absolutely over breeding. They`re not only -- 50,000 foals are born every year, and they`re not all going to be good racers. So many of them are killed very early on. A horse is usually raced only until the age of five. Their life span is 30 years. When they`re no longer useful to the racing industry, most of them are sent off to slaughter.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the journey to the slaughter house is tortuous. Stuffed into overcrowded containers. Some are pregnant, born to be slaughtered. Now, take a look at this. Look at these foals who were born this week, just hours after being rescued. Had their moms not been rescued by animal lovers, these babies would have been born in the truck, on the way to the slaughter house, only to be killed when they arrived. This is why we need to act right now. This is why I`m urging, as an animal lover, as a horse rescuer, call your Congressperson. Demand action on the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act. What is this bill going to achieve if we do get it through Congress, Lisa?
LAND: Well, this bill is an important bill, because currently slaughtering horses in the United States slaughter houses in this country is illegal. But what has happened to replace that is these animals are being shipped across the border. Sometimes the travel takes up to 24 hours. They`re kept in double- decker buses. They`re overcrowded. They suffer from lacerations and infected wounds. They get broken bones. Many of them are dead upon arrival. But once they`re at the slaughterhouse, in Mexican slaughterhouses, for example, these horses are continually stabbed in their throats and then they`re hung up by one leg...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, gosh. We can`t even show you the video. Go to, Get involved, Americans, to stop this horror.
Lisa, thank you.