Monday, August 31, 2009

Help Save Cloud's Herd!!

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO- August 28, 2009: The Cloud Foundation and Front Range Equine Rescue have filed a lawsuit and a request for an injunction in Federal Court in Washington, DC to prohibit the Bureau of Land Management from removing horses from the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, and to stop the unprecedented round up of the Pryor Wild Horses slated to begin September 1, 2009.

The appellants argue that this removal of 70 horses will leave this unique and historical herd genetically non-viable and unable to sustain itself into the future. According to noted equine geneticist, Gus Cothran, Ph.D. of Texas A&M University, “… a census population of 150-200 is required to achieve the minimum effective population size…. The [Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd] has been one of the most important and visible herds within the BLM Wild Horse Program and it is important that it stays viable.”

The Bureau of Land Management is circumventing Congress’ wishes that wild horses be protected in the American West. The House just passed the Restore Our American Mustangs (ROAM) act and the Senate will review this bill (now S.1579) when they return from recess in September. “Is BLM just trying to do as much irrevocable damage to America's wild horses as fast as they can before the Senate can act?” asks Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation.

“Right now there are twelve entire herds being eliminated from 1.4 million acres near Ely, Nevada because these lands are suddenly not appropriate for wild horses,” Kathrens continues. “However, no action has been made to reduce cattle grazing in these areas.” There are no grazing permits in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range and reasons for holding an unprecedented removal this year are not clear. The range and adjacent lands are in excellent condition following three years of drought-breaking precipitation.

Cloud and the wild horses of Montana’s Pryor Mountains are world famous but fame and an outcry from the American public does not seem to impact the BLM’s plans. There are currently only 190 wild horses (one year and older) living in the spectacular Pryor Mountains. The BLM plans to remove 70 of them, including young foals and older horses who could be sold directly to killer buyers.

The Pryor Mountain wild horses are descendants of the Lewis and Clark horses who were stolen by the Crow Indians in the early 1800's. George Reed, Secretary of Cultural Education for the Crow Tribe Executive Branch, wrote in 2006: “We advocate preserving our heritage, culture and language, and these Pryor wild horses are part of our culture.”

The Cloud Foundation

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Canada and European Union Bans American Horsemeat

Europeans focus on food safety issue -- no more poisoned American horse meat
Hitchcock, TX (PRWEB) August 8, 2009 -- For decades, the gourmet diners of Europe and Japan have eaten American horse meat poisoned by chemical contamination. The horse flesh exporting by unscrupulous producers and horse slaughter plants will come to an end in April of 2010. The new rules enacted by the European Union will mandate chemical free horse meat entering those countries.

American horses are routinely given powerful chemicals prohibited for human consumption such as wormers, Phenylbutazone (Bute), and a host of other deadly medications which are life giving to a horse but cause serious medical issues when ingested by humans. Like DDT, banned for similar reasons, some of these compounds such as Bute remain in a horse's body long after administered. Studies indicate medical issues such as birth defects, anemia, and cancer are brought on when these dangerous chemicals are consumed by humans.

The ban was quietly announced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in late July. It quickly exploded across the Internet as news of it made its way to anti-slaughter websites and finally to mainstream equine media worldwide. With the new ban in place, the slaughter of horses exposed to these drugs will stop and the production of commercially available horse meat will grind to a halt.

"We have known of the dangers of chemicals in American horsemeat for years, but our warnings have often fallen on deaf ears," said Jerry Finch, founder of Habitat for Horses, the nation's largest all breed equine rescue organization.

"Thankfully, agencies in the European Union responsible for health safety realized that there is virtually no testing for dangerous chemicals in American horses being sold for food," he said. "Foreign governments will inadvertently bring the slaughter of American horses to a halt while the American government, with their failure to pass legislation, has simply ignored the health of the European people."

Finch says that the same EU rules will halt the export of American horses slaughtered in Mexico for European consumption.

About Habitat for Horses:
Habitat for Horses (HfH) is a not-for-profit equine protection agency committed to the prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of neglected and abused horses. The largest organization of its kind in North America, HfH operates a rehabilitation ranch in Hitchcock, Texas, as well as a growing network of foster homes throughout the United States.

Valerie KennedyHabitat for Horses,

Friday, August 7, 2009

Undercover Investigation Underscores USDA - Documented Brutality

Undercover Investigation Underscores USDA - Documented Brutality

August 6, 2:44 PMHorse News ExaminerCarrie Gobernatz

30 month long investigation proves worst-case scenario is ongoing

Westminster, MD (PRWEB) August 6, 2009 -- A thirty month long investigation into the plight of horses who have been sold for slaughter has revealed the worst levels of inhumane treatment. The abuse and neglect of these horses, sometimes referred to as 'kill horses,' was uncovered during the investigation and is consistent with findings and photographs contained in a 906 page document released by the USDA last year.

The investigation and report by Animals' Angels, a Maryland based animal welfare organization, confirmed that injuries and inhumane treatment documented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture during 2005 continue.

Slaughter horses in Shelby, MT

Both USDA and Animals' Angels (AA) documents show horses severely injured, left medically untreated, ill, trampled to death and worse on their way to and at slaughter.
Executive Director of Animals' Angels, Sonja Meadows said their investigations quickly revealed that, "Both government records and our report show that being on U.S. soil was not then and is not now the slightest guarantee of humane treatment."

The slaughter of horses in the U.S., which stopped with plant closures in 2007, continues in Canada and Mexico. Groups advocating the slaughter of American horses have called for the reopening of U.S. horse slaughter plants, saying horses are better protected by U.S. humane laws than by laws in Canada and Mexico. However, during the 30 month long investigation that included repeated visits to auctions, feedlots and slaughter plants, AA investigators concluded abuse and inhumane treatment are inherent to the horse slaughter industry.

"It takes inhumane treatment to make the economics work," said Meadows. "We found the cruelty starts well before horses arrive at the slaughter plant."

The AA report documents available veterinary care withheld from horses severely injured or near death. Undercover investigators were routinely told, 'That horse is going to slaughter anyway,' or the horses were 'just passing through.'

Treatment of horses designated for slaughter ranged from beating horses and jabbing them in the eyes, to using a cable winch to drag downed horses with a wire wrapped around a back leg.Investigators observed horses being injured or killed after being forced into dangerously crowded pens where they were kicked or trampled. Others were found frozen to the ground after overnight temperatures dropped well below freezing.

Young and small horses, as well as horses injured or weak were trampled to death in trailers crowded with 40 horses. Workers failed to separate stallions, ensuring fierce fighting in close quarters during transport.

Making conditions worse is the issue of stolen horses, according to Debi Metcalfe, founder of Stolen Horse International, Inc., which operates, a horse theft recovery network that averages 80,000 unique visitors per month. "We have dealt with cases where horses were stolen," said Metcalf. "We later found out that these innocent pets had been slaughtered."

Investigators also discovered at both Canadian and Mexican slaughter plants horses left in bloody 'kill boxes,' used to restrain horses as they are being killed, during lunch breaks. According to the report, the horses were 'shaking violently as if they might fall down.' Plant management told investigators the horses 'aren't bothered by it.'

AA investigators documented injured and dead horses at every stop along the horse slaughter pipeline. At feedlots and export pens horses had no food and water troughs were empty. An export facility veterinarian informed investigators horses too weak for transport would be left behind to die in the pens.

"The public has been duped into thinking horse slaughter has ended, but it just moved a few hours further down the road," Meadows pointed out. "It hasn't somehow changed into something it is not. It is the same terrible suffering it was in 2005."
"By the time the horse finally stands in the kill box at the slaughter plant, it is often not the worst thing that has happened to it since this dreadful journey began," said Meadows.
For a copy of the investigative report, click here...

The documents including photos released by the USDA can be found here...

Animals' Angels is a 501 (c)(3) non profit organization with fulltime investigators in the United States and Canada. We work with law enforcement and government agencies to end animal cruelty and improve conditions for farm animals. We are in the field every week, trailing livestock trucks, visiting markets, collecting stations and slaughter plants. For more information please go to

Tuesday, August 4, 2009



New EU rules may end slaughter of American Horses

CHICAGO, (EWA) – The European Union (EU) and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have announced that the rules on slaughtering horses for human consumption are about to change radically due to concerns regarding contaminated horse meat.

The new EU rules will become effective in April 2010, requiring that either slaughtered animals have complete health records showing they have not received banned substances or a 180 day quarantine for the horses. Claude Boissonnealut, head of the CFIAs red meat programs, has indicated that Canada will likely abide by the 180 day quarantine, as mandated by the EU.

Equine welfare advocates have warned of the contamination of American horse meat for years. Substances banned from food animals range from toxic wormers to phenylbutazone (PBZ), the “aspirin” of the horse world, and even include fertility drugs that can cause miscarriages in women. “PBZ is a known carcinogen and can cause aplastic anemia (bone marrow suppression) in humans”, says Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) member, Dr. Ann Marini, Ph.D., M.D.

But the list of contaminants is not limited to conventional drugs. “Some of the garbage ‘treatments’ that are given to performance horses included iodine-peanut oil injections along the spine, anabolic steroids, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids and even snake venom”, explains Dr. Nicholas Dodman, DVM at Tufts University.

The new rules will mean that horses coming from auctions and other sources in the US will have to be kept drug free on a feedlot for half a year. Producers estimate that feeding horses that long will more than double their cost, making them less competitive with horses from other sources. And that is likely to be only half their problem.

EWA member Christy Sheidy, of Another Chance 4 Horses, routinely rescues slaughter bound horses from Pennsylvania’s New Holland auction. Sheidy warns, “Outbreaks of diseases like strangles and shipping fever will be inevitable in these quarantine feedlots. Left untreated, many horses may die before they can be slaughtered.” Treating the horses would restart their quarantine time.

In recent years, European authorities have cracked down on horse meat producers within the EU, requiring a “passport” system that specifically documents whether a horse has received such substances. Owners must state that their horses are intended for slaughter.

USDA statistics show that in 2008, the US exported 56,731 horses to Mexico and 77,073 horses to Canada for slaughter, resulting in the second highest slaughter total since 1995. Diners abroad have no idea whatsoever what dangerous chemicals they are eating in the American horsemeat that is shipped from plants across our borders.

In an interview with EWA, Henry Skjerven, a former director of the Natural Valley Farms slaughter operation in Saskatchewan, Canada, said: “Unfortunately, North America, US and Canada, were never geared for raising horses for food consumption. The system as it stood when we were killing horses was in no way, shape or form, safe, in my opinion.”

Skjerven went on to say, “We did not know where those horses were coming from, what might be in them or what they were treated with. I was always in fear - I think that it was very valid - that we were going to send something across there [to the EU] and we were simply going to get our doors locked after we had some kind of issue with the product.”

Skjerven’s plant began killing horses in September of 2007 for the Belgium’s Velda Group following the closing of their Cavel slaughter plant in DeKalb, Illinois. Natural Valley’s horse slaughter plant was closed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in January of 2009, for health issues.

Unlike Canada, horses going to Mexico are killed in two types of slaughter plants. The three largest plants export the meat to the EU and will fall under the same new rules. Mexican authorities have yet to announce whether their smaller plants, that provide meat for domestic consumption, will be required to follow the new rules.

“We don’t need to eat horses. Horses are for riding, jumping and doing a whole lot of great things. They’re not food”, concluded Skjerven.

Contacts: John Holland

Vicki Tobin

Monday, August 3, 2009


US House passes legislation to protect burros and wild horses

August 2, 6:34 PM

AP Photo/Watertown Daily Times, John Hart

By a vote of 239 to 185, the House of Representatives voted handily in favor of bill H.R. 1018 providing federal protection to burros and wild horses. The bill had been introduced by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D - W.Va.), a staunch advocate of horse protection and an unyielding animal welfare advocate.

Known as the Restore Our American Mustangs, or ROAM Act, the Bill was co-sponsored by Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). The Bill is a response to what was found to be woeful mismanagement of the orginal Act protecting these animals by the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM"). Because the BLM has been rounding up more horses than it can sell, the agency has amassed some 31,000 animals (in contrast, there are 35,00 wild horses and burros roaming federal lands in 10 states, with a majority of the animals in Nevada and Wyoming.), an unsustainable number, in short- and long-term holding facilities at an annual cost to taxpayers of over $27M. In 2009, the program will consume 75% of the agency's total budget dedicated to the protection of horses and burros.

Several years ago, US Senator Conrad Burns (R - Montana), in a late-night and little-noticed legislative sleigh of hand, and in deference to ranchers wanting to protect federal lands for their cattle, amended the law protecting these animals to allow for the slaughter of animals older than 10 years and who had been up for adoption three times.

H.R. 1018 reverses the Burns amendment and bans the slaughter of these animals, re-opens millions of acres originally designated for wild horses allowing more of them to roam (get it?) free, implement contraceptive programs as an alternative to expensive round-ups, as well as other reforms honoring the intent of the orginal Act protecting these animals known as the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. The intent of the original Act was to protect and maintain these animals as symbols of American culture.

An amendment by Ranking Minority Leader Richard "Doc" Hastings (R - Wash.) to narrow the Bill and omit provisions relating to fertility control, adoption and range expansion, was soundly rejected by a vote of 348 to 74. Meanwhile, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R - OH) took the floor to denounce the bill as an "insult" to the American people in time of economic crisis. Apparently, Representative Boehner believes that considering an animal protection bill in times of economic crisis is un-American. Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that Representative Boehner has opposed every single animal protection measure, regardless of the economic status of the nation, including efforts to ban cockfighting and dogfighting, halt the trophy hunting of polar bears, and the trade of exotic pets.

In its present form, the Bill provides that any person who processes, transports for processing, or permits to be processed into commercial products a live or dead wild free-roaming horse or burro, will be subject to a maximum fine of $2,000 and/or up to one year in jail. The Bill further prohibits the Secretary of the Interior from destroying, or authorizing the destruction of wild horses or burros unless the animal is terminally ill, and to relocate the animals if their health or safety is threatened. The Bill also authorizes the Secretary to provide financial incentives for people to adopt animals who have been rounded up.

The Bill was received by the US Senate on July 17th and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Bill will cost $200M over the 2010-2014 period, with the cost rising to $700M if the Bureau is required to acquire new land for the animals.

For more info: Text as passed by the House and as referred to Senate Committee:; Congressional Budget Office financial estimates:

Author: Jean-Pierre Ruiz
Jean-Pierre Ruiz is an Examiner from Seattle. You can see Jean-Pierre's articles on Jean-Pierre's Home Page.