Bail Revoked over ‘Bizarre’ Slaughter of Miniature Horses

Source: abc.net.au

Australian builder who used a butcher’s knife to kill six miniature horses in South Australia as revenge on clients who owed him money has had his bail revoked.

Michael O'Connell (L) has been taken into custody over the killings of six miniature horses.

Michael O’Connell (L) has been taken into custody over the killings of six miniature horses.

Michael Martin John O’Connell, 50, who owns Middleton Developments south of Adelaide, was taken into custody ahead of sentencing next month.

Clients Melvyn and Julie Jackson owed O’Connell a $37,000 final payment for about $200,000 worth of renovations carried out by his company.

Prosecutor Peter Cannell said after getting drunk at a Christmas party last year for his employees and subcontractors, O’Connell drove about an hour to the Jacksons’ horse stud at Clayton Bay and slit the throats of six miniature horses.

“The accused has entered through a locked gate … and then proceeded to one by one cut the throats of those six miniature horses,” Mr Cannell said.

“The horses were discovered deceased the following day by an employee.

“His intention was to make the victim Julie Jackson pay … get the victim somewhere where it would hurt.”

O’Connell later disposed of the butcher’s knife and blood-stained seat covers from his car at sea.

The court heard O’Connell made frank admissions about his actions when police spoke to him about the crime a week later.

A civil damages settlement had since been reached between O’Connell and the Jackson family worth about $60,000.

Ms Jackson read a victim impact statement in court, in which she said the “blood-fuelled massacre” had sent her family’s life into turmoil.

“I have lost more than six miniature horses, I have lost myself,” Ms Jackson said.

“I wish everyday for a different outcome for my babies.

“How could anyone expect a house renovation to result in the death of six horses.

“How could a builder plot and plan such a callous attack and carry it out?

“This has not just tortured me, it has tortured my family.

“My life is forever impacted and my heart forever broken.”

Mr Jackson told the court when he arrived at the stables he was confronted by blood-splattered walls.

“It was a scene that filled me with horror and heartbreak,” Mr Jackson said.

“They were part of our family in the same way that our children are.

“They can never be replaced. We have not used those stables since that night.”

Court heard O’Connell snapped

Surviving PonyO’Connell’s lawyer Nick Healy said his client had since lost about $2 million worth of contracts and was horrified by his actions.

“He simply snapped and he and the victim have been paying for this ever since,” Mr Healy said.

“At no time did my client try to excuse his conduct.”

Mr Healy described the married father of four as a respected member of the local community whose actions were bizarre.

He said at the time of the crime he had building contracts worth about $4 million.

He said about half of his staff had also left and a custodial sentence would see his business collapse.

But Judge Paul Cuthbertson questioned whether it was already too late for O’Connell’s business.

“I would have thought his business is gone already, who would want to deal with him?” Judge Cuthbertson said.

O’Connell pleaded guilty to aggravated serious criminal trespass, which carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.

He also admitted to property damage for killing the horses, which attracts a term of up to 10 years.

O’Connell’s lawyer urged the judge to suspend any prison sentence.

But the prosecution called for a custodial sentence because of the seriousness of the offending.

ADVOCATES ASK FEDERAL COURT TO DISMISS UTAH RANCHERS’ ANTI-MUSTANG LAWSUIT

“Their lawsuit is an attempt to elevate ranchers’ private interests in grazing livestock on public lands above the public’s interest in preserving wild horses and the government’s mandatory duty to protect them.”

Last month's destruction of Wyoming's Adobe Town herd by the BLM ~ photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Last month’s destruction of Wyoming’s Adobe Town herd by the BLM ~ photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (October 22, 2014)…. Today, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, Utah photographer John Steele and wild horse advocate and adopter Lisa Friday filed a motion requesting the federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Western Rangeland Conservation Association and Utah ranchers against the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the U.S. District Court in Utah. In August, the court granted the advocates’ motion to intervene in the lawsuit, which seeks to compel the government to remove wild horses from public and private lands.

“This lawsuit was filed by livestock owners that view wild horses as competition for below-market, taxpayer-subsidized grazing on public lands,” said Caitlin Zittkowski, attorney for Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal, the firm representing the advocates. “Their lawsuit is an attempt to elevate ranchers’ private interests in grazing livestock on public lands above the public’s interest in preserving wild horses and the government’s mandatory duty to protect them.”

“The ranchers’ lawsuit lacks legal merit, and we are asking the court to reject its claims without delay,” Zittkowski concluded.

The case was filed by ranchers who graze livestock on public lands in southwestern Utah. It seeks removal of hundreds of wild horses from the Frisco, Four Mile, Bible Springs, Sulphur, Muddy Creek, and North Hills Herd Management Areas (HMAs) and the Blawn Wash Herd Are (HA). In response, the government has informed the court that wild horses are not damaging rangelands in this area and that it has made no determination that “excess” wild horses exist in the HMAs and HA in question.

The lawsuit is part of a broader push from anti-wild horse private, commercial ranching interests to compel the BLM to remove an increasing number of wild horses from public lands and sell captured wild horses for slaughter. Ranchers in Nevada and Wyoming have also recently sued the BLM, and the agency has a history of quickly capitulating to their demands, regardless of the legal merits of the cases. In Wyoming, the government just completed a massive roundup of more than 1,200 wild horses as part of a settlement of a lawsuit that the Interior Department itself invited ranchers to file against the agency.

In Utah, under pressure from ranchers, the BLM rounded up 173 wild horses from the Blawn Wash HA in July. Utah ranchers put forward the false claim that wild horses are overpopulating the range, despite the fact that livestock graze on 22 million acres of land in the state, while wild horses are restricted to just 2.1 million acres. There are fewer than 4,000 wild horses on BLM land in Utah, compared to hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep.

National opinion polls indicate that 72 percent of the public supports protecting wild horses on public lands, while just 29 percent wants public lands used for livestock grazing.

Therapy Horses a Calming Influence on Veterans

By Brian MacQuarrie | Globe Staff

In Norfolk, female veterans find strength through learning to ride and care for horses

Veteran Eadyie Davis of Marlborough shared a quiet moment with therapy horse Creek. ~ Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Veteran Eadyie Davis of Marlborough shared a quiet moment with therapy horse Creek. ~ Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

NORFOLK — Feet in the stirrups, hands on the reins, Karen Souza closes her eyes as a quarter horse named Rio carries her to a tranquil, peaceful place she has rarely visited.

Souza spent decades walled off emotionally after being sexually abused as a teenage soldier. She never formed a loving relationship, and she spoke only sparingly. But from that dark, bleak world, she has emerged to find a place of trust, and accomplishment, and the simple joy of working with a large, strong, patient animal.

Souza is one of several female veterans who exhale and relax once a week at the BINA Farm Center, where they learn basic horsemanship and riding skills in a hands-on form of therapy. All of them are dealing with physical or emotional challenges.

But little by little, through grooming a horse or sitting in a saddle, anxiety and doubt are being replaced by laughter and confidence.

On this morning, 30 miles southwest of Boston, the veterans have been asked to shut their eyes and enjoy the slow, coordinated movement of their horses. It’s a simple request, but one that needs more than a little courage from women who often have felt vulnerable and abandoned.

“Every time I come here, this flood of emotions comes over me,” says Souza, 52, who lives in Worcester in transitional housing for female veterans. “I just feel cleansed, and you take that feeling with you. It doesn’t go away.”

As more veterans cope with long-term disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder, public awareness about the problems and therapies to treat them has increased. Veterans programs such as the one at BINA Farm have surfaced in Massachusetts and elsewhere in recent years, following a long-held recognition that working with horses has therapeutic benefits for people with special needs.

“I want them to leave with skills and tools they can take out to the world,” says Eileen Polasky, program director at BINA Farm Center, a Natick-based nonprofit, with facilities in Norfolk and Wellesley. “For a lot of people, the horses are a way in.”

The women gain a sense of responsibility that comes from caring for a horse, even for 90 minutes a week. There is a search for the gumption to try something new, perhaps after many years of extreme withdrawal. And there is a sense of growing self-esteem for women who sometimes feel branded as failures.

“There was a time when I wasn’t talking because I didn’t think that anyone would get it,” says Eadyie Davis of Marlborough, a 47-year-old Air Force veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident during her military service. “Horses offer empathy, trust, compassion, and stillness.”

Now, seven sessions into the eight-week program, Davis is talking — a lot. She tests whether visitors know how many bones are in a horse, and how long horses sleep. “Did you know they’re afraid of us?” Davis asks.

Any fear on Davis’s part is not apparent. She pets Creek, helps adjust his bridle and halter, and chirps softly and soothingly to the palomino before nestling into the saddle. As Creek is led around the dirt floor by Pat Sheets, a volunteer from Roslindale, Davis is beaming…(CONTINUED)

Witch’s Brew for Equine Advocates

“Many thanks to Grandma Gregg for sharing this ‘Feel Good Sunday’ piece which sparks several latent memories, for me, from days gone by.  I think I have prepared just such a dish, on several occasions, but consuming copious amounts of Wrangler Iced Tea during it’s preparations has impaired my ability to recall if it really tasted as good as is alluded to, here.  I HATE when that happens!  Keep the faith, my friends” ~ R.T.


Witches brewThis recipe is not original but a variation on an old (perhaps ancient) Southwestern dish. It has also been a favorite of mine and was for many years the staple, the sole staple, of my personal nutritional program. (I am six feet three and weigh 190 pounds, sober.)

I call it Hardcase Survival Pinto Bean Sludge.

1. Take one fifty-pound sack Colorado pinto beans. Remove stones, cockleburs, horseshit, ants, lizards, etc. Wash in clear cold crick water. Soak for twenty-four hours in iron kettle or earthenware cooking pot. (DO NOT USE TEFLON, ALUMINUM OR PYREX CONTAINER. THIS WARNING CANNOT BE OVERSTRESSED.)

2. Place kettle or pot with entire fifty lbs. of pinto beans on low fire and simmer for twenty-four hours. (DO NOT POUR OFF WATER IN WHICH BEANS HAVE BEEN IMMERSED. THIS IS IMPORTANT.) Fire must be of juniper, pinyon pine, mesquite or ironwood; other fuels tend to modify the subtle flavor and delicate aroma of Pinto Bean Sludge.

3. DO NOT BOIL.

4. STIR VIGOROUSLY FROM TIME TO TIME WITH WOODEN SPOON OR IRON LADLE. (Do not disregard these instructions.)

5. After simmering on low fire for twenty-four hours, add one gallon green chile peppers. Stir vigorously. Add one quart natural (non-iodized) pure sea salt. Add black pepper. Stir some more and throw in additional flavoring materials, as desired, such as old bacon rinds, corncobs, salt pork, hog jowls, kidney stones, ham hocks, sowbelly, saddle blankets, jungle boots, worn-out tennis shoes, cinch straps, whatnot, use your own judgment. Simmer an additional twenty-four hours.

6. Now ladle as many servings as desired from pot but do not remove pot from fire. Allow to simmer continuously for hours, days or weeks if necessary, until all contents have been thoroughly consumed. Continue to stir vigorously, whenever in vicinity or whenever you think of it.

7. Serve Pinto Bean Sludge on large flat stones or on any convenient fairly level surface. Garnish liberally with parsley flakes. Slather generously with raw ketchup. Sprinkle with endive, anchovy crumbs and boiled cruets and eat hearty.

8. One potful Pinto Bean Sludge, as above specified, will feed one poet for two full weeks at a cost of about $11.45 at current prices. Annual costs less than $300.

9. The philosopher Pythagoras found flatulence incompatible with meditation and therefore urged his followers not to eat beans. I have found, however, that custom and thorough cooking will alleviate this problem.

Author Unknown

Biologists Criticize Science In BLM Plans To Help Sage Grouse

“Granted, this story is not about Wild Horses and Burros BUT it does speak to the BLM’s poor math, lack of science and inconstancy in properly managing any form of wildlife on our public lands.  It’s all the same and scientists are screaming at them to get their facts right, just as we have been doing for years.  Good read!” ~ R.T.

“Unfortunately, the protections vary a lot from plan to plan, and most of those are not based in science as they are cherry picking pieces of science to make things easy,”

Sage GrouseIn late 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether to list the Greater Sage Grouse as an endangered or threatened species.  In preparation for this decision, another federal agency, the Bureau of Land Management, is coordinating a set of plans aimed at protecting the bird and keeping it off the endangered species list.

A group of sage grouse scientists, however, say those plans lack sound science and fail to adequately protect the grouse.

In a Thursday conference call, Ken Rait, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Western Lands Initiative, said that wildlife biologists believe “there is significant discrepancy between science and the plans.”

In a June letter sent to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, a group of 15 wildlife scientists, 12 of them with doctoral degrees, outlined some of the problems they saw with the draft plans. (Final versions will be released in early 2015, so the BLM may still revise them.)

One problem with the plans, the scientists said, is that they lack consistency, “essentially creating 15 different management approaches to sage-grouse conservation within and across state boundaries.”

While some variations are necessary due to regional differences, the variability in the plans is not based in science, the biologists said. For example, one plan may require a certain buffer distances for oil and gas activity or surface disturbance from a priority conservation area or sage grouse breeding ground, and another plan would have a different requirement.

“Unfortunately, the protections vary a lot from plan to plan, and most of those are not based in science as they are cherry picking pieces of science to make things easy,” said Terry Riley, a wildlife biologist and director of conservation policy at the North American Grouse Partnership.

The other criticism the scientists laid out is that the conservation measures the BLM recommends are not supported by the best available science.

Matt Holloran, a principal and senior ecologist with Wyoming Wildlife Consultants, also criticized the BLM draft plans for failing to come up with a coordinated effort to manage invasive species like cheatgrass and medusahead, which, after wildfire, come in and take over important sagebrush habitat. In fact, in some of the plans, burning sagebrush was considered as a tool in wildlife managers toolboxes, which Holloran said was a bad idea.

“The science is pretty conclusive that fire should not be considered a management option,” he said…(CONTINUED)

BLM Ely Nevada District to Round Up Wild Horses

Unedited Press Release from the BLM

Release Date: 10/16/14

BLM Ely District to Gather Wild Horses

Triple B Horses - BLM

Triple B Horses – BLM

ELY – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Ely District is scheduled in early November 2014 to begin gathering and removing approximately 120 excess wild horses from in and around the Triple B and Silver King Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in eastern Nevada.  Details will be posted on the district website at http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC as they become available. The helicopter gathers are necessary to prevent further damage to private property and provide for public and animal safety.

The District will remove about 70 excess wild horses from the Triple B HMA, located about 30 miles northwest of Ely, that are damaging private property, and harassing and breeding domestic stock resulting in landowner complaints.  Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the Triple B HMA is 215-250 wild horses.  The current population is 1,311 wild horses.

The District will remove up to 50 excess wild horses from in and around the Silver King HMA.  The horses to be gathered are located about 120 miles south of Ely.  They are a safety concern on U.S. Highway 93 and are damaging private property, resulting in property owner complaints.  AML for the Silver King HMA is 60-128 wild horses.  The current population is 452 wild horses.

BLM attempts to keep wild horses away from private property and the highway, including trapping and relocating animals to other portions of the HMAs, have been unsuccessful.

The BLM will utilize the services of gather contractor Cattoor Livestock Roundup, Inc., of Nephi, Utah, which uses a helicopter to locate and herd wild horses toward a set of corrals to be gathered.  The pilot is assisted by a ground crew and a domesticated horse that is trained to guide the horses into the corral.  The use of helicopters, which is authorized by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, has proven to be a safe, effective and practical means by which to gather excess wild horses with minimal anxiety or hardship on the animals.

Wild horses removed from the range will be transported to the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley (PVC), in Reno, Nev., where they will be offered for adoption to qualified individuals.  Wild horses for which there is no adoption demand will be placed in long-term pastures where they will be humanely cared for and retain their “wild” status and protection under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  The BLM does not sell or send any horses to slaughter.

A Wild Horse Gather Information Line has been established at (775) 861-6700.  A recorded message will provide information on daily gather activities and schedules.  The BLM will also post daily gather information on its website at: http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC.

Public lands within the HMAs will be open to the public during gather operations, subject to necessary safety restrictions, and the BLM will make every effort to allow for public viewing opportunities. The BLM has established protocols for visitors to ensure the safety of the horses, the public, and BLM and contract staff. The protocols are available at: http://on.doi.gov/1lGnDYC under Observation Opportunities.

Gather activities in and outside the Triple B HMA were analyzed in the Triple B, Maverick-Medicine and Antelope Valley HMA Gather Plan and Environmental Assessment (EA), signed in May 2011 and available at http://on.doi.gov/1tgdHc6.  Gather activities in and around the Silver King HMA were analyzed in the Ely District Public Safety and Nuisance Gather EA signed in August 2014 and available at http://on.doi.gov/1lx856K.

For more information, contact Chris Hanefeld, BLM Ely District public affairs specialist, at (775) 289-1842 or chanefel@blm.gov.

Silver King Highway Nuisance Wild Horse Gather

Triple B Nuisance Wild Horse Gather

Facebook Helps Save Horse from Being “Eaten by Lions”

Sonja Haller, The Republic | azcentral.com

“They can be food for the cats, and it’s better than putting (the horses) in a landfill,”

Jim Gath, the owner and chief operator at Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary, interacts with his horses daily and makes sure they always have enough attention and human interaction. (Photo: Dominic Valente/The Republic, Dominic Valente/The Republic)

Jim Gath, the owner and chief operator at Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary, interacts with his horses daily and makes sure they always have enough attention and human interaction. (Photo: Dominic Valente/The Republic, Dominic Valente/The Republic)

The headline over the Facebook story could have read: Old, arthritic horse fed to the lions.

The true story, however, has more shades of gray and no-clear cut antagonist. But it did have a happy ending for the hero, a 20-year-old gelding named Spencer.

Spencer was a family horse boarded in Sedona. Once ridden by the family’s children, who had scattered, Spencer had been without a rider for three years. His owner, who lived in Utah, wanted to find him a new home.

“He needed a job. He needed a kid,” said Shelley Woellmer, who worked with the owner to find Spencer a home. Woellmer said the owner is a friend, they board their horses together and together tried for six months to find Spencer a new home. The owner declined to be interviewed.

Looking for someone to adopt him, they tried horse sanctuaries and equine therapy businesses, Woellmer said.

Not everyone who read the Facebook post by non-profit animal-rescue organization AZ Pound Pups knew that. The group put out a call to find a home for Spencer, describing the horse “like a giant dog and will whinny and follow you around anywhere just to be pet/groomed.”

What readers did learn from the Facebook post, shared more than 220 times, was that one fast-approaching option for Spencer was to go to Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde.

Woellmer confirmed the owner had approached the park about its horse donation program, which accepts qualified animals as food for the park’s big cats.

Spencer would be, as one poster, Jim Gath, wrote, “fed to the lions.”

The park is known for its lions, tigers and other large animals. Among its dozens of animal attractions is the “Predator Feed,” which invites the public to watch as “they throw 800 pounds of raw food to eagerly waiting carnivores. Plenty of opportunities to take amazing pictures while bears chow down, hyenas laugh, and lions roar,” according to the park’s website.

This bit of news shook up the people following the Facebook feed.

Some people brought up the circle of life — that lions need to eat, too.

Others commented on whether Spencer was better off euthanized, given his arthritis.

But others countered that arthritic horses, with medication such as Spencer was taking, can continue to live long lives.

Out of Africa Wildlife Park had considered the owner’s request to take Spencer.

Through its horse donation program, people complete a form that reads, in part, “We do not take healthy horses, horses with cancer, or horses on medication.”

The donated animal is used to feed the big cats featured at the park.

“We have refused horses because they are too healthy,” said park spokeswoman Linda Peterson, who processes donation requests. The form asks for a veterinarian’s name and number. The vet is called if the park’s specialist in equine donations believes the horse doesn’t meet “end-of-life” standards.

If a horse is deemed end of life, it is shot, since anesthesia medication would taint the meat.

“They can be food for the cats, and it’s better than putting (the horses) in a landfill,” Peterson said.

Out of Africa said the number of horses it accepts a year is private, but that it keeps records to report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In the end, the park refused Spencer because a video shared on Facebook showed him only days earlier cantering with a rider.

Then, Facebook managed to do what the owner could not….(CONTINUED)