Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Contacts: John Holland
Vicki Tobin

AQHA Official Celebrates Pending Slaughter of Quarter Horses

CHICAGO, (EWA) – In the aftermath of Montana Governor Schweitzer’s non-action, HB 418, a bill that bars Montana’s citizens from taking court action against the building of a horse slaughter plant, became law. This action has left many Montana legislators and citizens shocked that their state might soon be known as the new “home of horse slaughter”. Montana has enacted a probably unconstitutional statute that denies due process under the United States Constitution.

Horse slaughter will tarnish the “Big Sky” brand and everything it stands for from cattle to tourism. History has shown that such plants bring nothing but pollution and controversy. Montana law makers failed to ask themselves why Texas and Illinois, and now Saskatchewan Canada, have rid themselves of the industry. Who is to gain?

The Equine Welfare Alliance has obtained a document that answers this question. The mass e-mail was from Stan Weaver, president of the Montana Quarter Horse Association (MQHA) and is titled “HB 418 Final Comments – Success!!!!. Rejoicing in the news that Montana may be home to a horse killing plant, the MQHA president boasts that the MQHA was the driving force behind the passage of the law.

Weaver praises members for pushing the legislation while bragging about the haste with which it was put together. Weaver describes how the MQHA and the bill’s sponsor, Representative Ed Butcher, had come up with the idea for the bill just weeks before it was introduced. After that introduction, the bill was ridiculed widely as the “Montana Butcher Bill.”

Indeed, this is cause to rejoice for the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), the organization leading the effort to continue the slaughter of American horses for foreign firm’s profit. This magnificent breed, touted as the most versatile of all horses, is being sent to slaughter in record numbers. In fact, half of all horses sent to slaughter each year are American Quarter Horses.

Meanwhile, the AQHA continues to promote indiscriminate breeding.

Weaver is apparently so enamored at the prospect of a slaughter plant to butcher Montana’s Quarter Horses that he ponders writing a book that will contain all the emails and letters in support of horse killing.

Last year, when other businesses were reducing production, AQHA management and its member breeders continued their mad quest to grow revenues by registering 140,000 new foals, an increase of 5,000 more horses over 2007.

In his speech before the 2008 annual convention, Bill Brewer, the AQHA’s then executive vice-president said, “Our challenge becomes looking at ways to introduce an equine economic stimulus package that will boost registration numbers.” Apparently, that package includes killing off existing Quarter Horses to make room for more.

The AQHA and its allies have promoted unfounded stories that the nation is being flooded with tens of thousands of abandoned horses. It was a salient point made by supporters of “The Butcher Bill” and was picked up by the Montana media and repeated without question, even though county officials reported a total of only fourteen abandoned horses in 2008.

Yet the group and its apologists fail to mention the indiscriminate breeding encouraged by the AQHA and ranchers such as Weaver. Weaver’s ranch alone produces and registers 100 horses per year and helps fill the AQHA treasury with registration fees.

According to Weaver, the next major AQHA effort will be to try to defeat the federal legislation that will end the slaughter of American horses; HR 503, The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009.

In their zealous quest to defeat HR 503, EWA expects more of the elaborate disinformation campaign from the AQHA and its lobbyists.

EWA wholeheartedly supports humane and responsible animal agriculture and is prepared to respond.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Horse slaughter dream a financial nightmare

Horse slaughter gut piles at Natural Valley Farms, Canada
Equine Welfare Alliance EWI
Contacts: John Holland
Vicki Tobin

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’


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: http://nebraska200.horsereunions.com/.

Donations are still needed to help cover the cost of medical care. Credit card donations can be made online at http://www.habitatforhorses.org/getinvolved/donatenow.html. 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 http://www.habitatforhorses.org/