Abusive Rancher Buys Back 60 to 70 Horses

Article by Jan Falstad of the Billings Gazette

Leachman Allowed 829 Horses to Starve then Bought Back a Bunch

Potential buyers look over 10 pens of horses formerly owned by James Leachman that were confiscated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for trespassing on Crow Tribal lands. Leachman on Wednesday presented a check at the BIA office in Crow Agency to buy back 60 to 70 of the horses ~ photo by Casey Riffe

Jim Leachman of Billings presented a check Wednesday at the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Crow Agency to buy back 60 to 70 of the 829 horses he is accused of starving.

His son, Seth Leachman, bought the quarter horses during last weekend’s BIA auction at the Home Place Ranch 16 miles east of Billings.

“He (Jim Leachman) came in and paid with a cashier’s check for the amount that he owed,” BIA Crow Agency Superintendent Vianna Stewart said.

Stewart said she didn’t know the exact amount of the check because she was traveling Wednesday and all the agency employees who knew the total were attending a Thursday afternoon meeting about the pending federal government shutdown.

Yellowstone County Sheriff Lt. Kent O’Donnell said he heard the check was for $35,000.

The Leachman Cattle Co. lost the ranch to a neighboring family during a federal foreclosure sale last July.

In January, a local veterinarian declared that hundreds of Leachman horses left on the ranch were starving. The Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office has had charges filed against Leachman for 14 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office and Northern International Livestock Exposition fed the horses donated hay through the winter.

Last month, the BIA confiscated 829 horses for trespassing on tribal lands and sold them in a two-day sale Saturday and Sunday.

Jim Leachman still has about 800 acres of Crow Tribal lands under lease on the Home Place Ranch, Stewart said. Theoretically, he could turn the horses loose on the ranch again.

“Seth bought them (the horses). Seth has no leases, so we couldn’t put any conditions on him,” Stewart said.

EWA Answers “United Horsemen” Anti-Rodeo Propaganda

Update from Vicki Tobin of the Equine Welfare Alliance

Pro-Slaughter Group Leaks Misinformation to Press, Again!

Horse Tripping in Sacramento - photo by Karen Tapia-Andsersen

The first reading of the horse tripping was held yesterday and went well. Several of our advocates have been working hard and I want to send a special thanks to Willis Lamm, Eric Mills, Carrol Abel, Beverly McGrath and especially to ASPCA for sponsoring the bill. My apologies if I missed anyone but I don’t have the names of everyone that has been working this. Our opponents are still trying to pull the HSUS rhetoric and did so at the meeting and were corrected. No doubt, they’ll continue to say HSUS is behind this and out to ban rodeos.

Willis sent a spectacular email to coxtv.com correcting an inaccurate AP story that someone must have fed to them. He has given me permission to share it with you. Below his email is information on what you can do to help to ensure passage of this legislation and notes from the meeting.

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I usually don’t quarrel with news stories however a story that appears on your site, Animal Activists Going After Rodeo Horse Events, is grossly incorrect.  The one true fact in the story is that the Legislature is considering a state wide ban on horse tripping.  However the charrerias (Mexican rodeos) outlawed horse tripping in the US many years ago.  In researching this issue for the Animal Services Advisory Board, Mr. Ramiro Rodriguez , President of the ACA, wrote me, “The charros in the US do not trip the horses when they do manganas in any competition, whoever trips a horse (intentionally) is suspended for a whole year.”

Horse tripping is not a recognized event in any form of sanctioned rodeo.  It is a shadow sport similar to dog fighting.  So the issue has absolutely no relationship to rodeos.

Two counties, Clark and Lyon, currently have bans on horse tripping and Washoe has such an ordinance under consideration.  The Lyon County ordinance was passed in 2008 after the Sheriff’s Dept. raised concerns about some incidents that took place.   After passage the world didn’t end and legitimate charrerias were not affected whatsoever.

This issue has absolutely nothing to do with rodeos nor is it some back door attempt to attack rodeo and livestock events.  I’m one of the first to tout Nevada‘s safety record when it comes to sanctioned rodeos and livestock events, but I certainly testified in favor of this bill.

My grave concern about this story, and it is grave, is that it discredits everyone involved.  The advocates, humane organizations and governmental entities involved are characterized as “animal rights activists” who appear to want to shut down rodeo activities.  The bill was actually advanced by the ASPCA with support of humane associations and animal services agencies.  The story’s characterizations make our legitimate rodeos look bad which is unfortunate since our rodeo associations take safety of animals and participants very seriously.

Finally, and worst of all, the story suggests that the Mexican charrerias in the United States conduct horse tripping events, something that only fuels prejudice and ethnic mistrust based on a completely false premise.  So let’s have a new reason for people to hate a specific ethnic segment of our population.

I realize your site merely presented an AP story.  However it is my belief that aside from its inaccuracies it is unreasonably harmful to all the parties involved in the story.  It consists of sensation, not accurate news.  I formally request that you remove the present story and replace it with a locally produced story that is accurate, and that you forward my concerns to AP.  A good start would be by contacting Senator Allison Copening, the bill’s sponsor, or Committee Chair Mark Manendo.

There are just so many ways that this story can create trouble.  If it were accurate then the chips should fall where they may.  Given that it is not accurate, a retraction or corrected tag story should be issued.

Respectfully submitted,

Willis Lamm, Vice Chair

Lyon County Animal Services Advisory Board

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We encourage all of you to write to the committee in Nevada that will be hearing the bill, particularly Chairman Manendo (committee contact info is at the bottom of this email). Feel free to take comments from Willis’ email or the below bullet points summarizing points from the meeting. We want to ensure this legislation passes into law and want to thank everyone that wrote letters for the first reading. They were mentioned at the meeting. As with all correspondence, it is preferred you use your own words so the letters don’t appear to be form letters.

1.  Nobody seems to be willing to say that they support horse tripping.

2.  A ban on tripping will not impact any legitimate sanctioned events.

3.  A state wide ban on tripping will help local agencies police horse events.

4.  A ban on tripping will not affect any other rodeo or equine events.

5.  A ban on tripping will not affect normal ranching, veterinary or training activities.

6.  A ban on tripping will enhance Nevada’s image with respect to the fact that the state strives to run reasonable safe equine and livestock events that would be appropriate for families of all ages to attend.

Here are Willis’ notes from the meeting:

It was an interesting afternoon at the Senate Natural Resources Committee.  The committee didn’t get under way until 4:00 (members were at other meetings that were running late) but the first issue was SB364.

The pro SB364 speakers were organized and brought in relevant supporting documents.  The Lyon County Animal Services Advisory Board was among the organizations and entities officially supporting the bill.

In contrast the anti SB364 speakers drifted all over the map citing all kinds of speculation, some of which the Committee Chair called them down on and made them admit that they had no data or documentation in which to back their claims.  Someone from the Reno Rodeo Association presented a rambling theory about how banning horse tripping was the next step in banning rodeos.  I personally thought that the Reno Rodeo Assn. was more savvy and “together” than that, and the Chairman summed things up by saying that this was a hearing on horse tripping, nothing more, and that nobody can predict what any future legislature is going to so so he’s not going to worry about it.

Even some of the public present for other bills who didn’t really care for a horse tripping ban were demonstrating body language supportive of the ban – rolling their eyes and looking across the room when someone presented a profoundly stupid argument against the bill.

The real show stopper was when one speaker argued that a horse tripping ban would lead to Texas taking away the National Finals Rodeo from Nevada.  The Chair asked the speaker on what data the argument was based?  The speaker had none.  Then the Chair asked how Nevada’s passing a horse tripping ban would affect the NFR.  After the speaker stumbled around expressing some circuitous logic the Chair pointed out that Texas already had a horse tripping ban, so what’s the difference?  The speaker excused himself and sat down.

The charreria folks all explained that their associations had banned horse tripping years ago and so they opposed a law banning horse tripping.  The ethnic card got played.  The Chair asked, “don’t you still have your events even though your own associations have banned horse tripping?”  The answer, of course, had to be “yes.”  Finally the Chair had enough.  He asked the standing room only crowd (including the video link from Las Vegas) for a show of hands.  Who here today actually approves of horse tripping?

“Let the record show that nobody raised their hands, so it looks like we’re all in agreement here.”

The committee moved on to hear SB299.

One complaint expressed by an anti-SB364 speaker was that passing the bill could be perceived by folks that we have a problem here in Nevada and that would project a negative image.  So after the hearing I made some calls and the responses I got was that they felt that SB364 actually shored up Nevada’s image in that the state was serious about events involving animals that are profoundly dangerous.  Some of them may contact the committee and indicate that this bill is a good thing as it reassures parents that equestrian and livestock events in Nevada should be appropriate places to go as families, avoiding the likelihood that young children would be exposed to a horrific activity.

I give Chairman Manendo high marks for liberally allowing public comment but bringing the issue back on focus when necessary.

This was just the first reading.  Hopefully the bill will move forward without interference and the Assembly Committee hearing will be just as rational.

Mark Manendo, Chair – mmanendo@sen.state.nv.us

John Jay Lee – lee@sen.state.nv.us

David Parks – dparks@sen.state.nv.us

Michael Roberson – mroberson@sen.state.nv.us

Dean Rhoads – drhoads@sen.state.nv.us

Owner of Cruel Horse Auction Sits Down With Equine Advocates

Update courtesy of Brandi Turner, Animals’ Angels.org

Animals’ Angels Make Progress at Sugarcreek Auction

Canadian Truck loaded with horses leaving Sugarcreek for slaughterhouses ~ photo courtesy of Animals' Angels

In a meeting Monday April 4th, Sugarcreek auction owner Leroy Baker agreed to make several major changes in his handling that will drastically improve the humane treatment for animals. Local law enforcement has agreed to fully uphold enforcement of humane regulations.

Animals’ Angels met with Baker and several local authorities at the Surgarcreek Police Station. The almost three-hour meeting was a direct result of public pressure from the thousands of people who flooded area agencies and businesses with calls, faxes and emails, after 4 years of investigations by Animals’ Angels’ revealed no improvements at the auction. Promising to shun contact and commercial interaction with the area, callers insisted that Sugarcreek auction’s cruelty stop. The meeting marks the first time Baker has sat down with any humane organization or agreed to do anything.

In an atmosphere that remained hostile throughout, the meeting was organized to address Animals’ Angels investigations and complaints regarding the handling of horses at the auction, overcrowded pens and the lack of veterinary care. Present at the meeting were Mayor Jeremiah Johnson, City attorney and member of the Economic Development Council Doug Frautschy, Chief of Police Kevin Kaser, Assistant Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Amanda Miller, T.C. Humane Society President Wallick and Humane Officer Steve Busch, Ohio Highway Patrol DOT Specialist SGT Wolfe, Auction Veterinarian Rick Daugherty, Auction Owner Leroy Baker, and Animals Angels Executive Director Sonja Meadows and AA Head of Operations.

In the meeting it was agreed that:

· Baker will have employees stop hitting horses in the face and poking them in the eyes · Baker will replace a specific employee who works directly behind the auction ring

· Baker will have employees immediately segregate aggressive horses

· Baker will quit having horses moved en masse to the sale ring, limiting the number of horses moved at once to 4

· County Humane Officer Busch will attend the auction on a regular basis to ensure compliance with animal protection laws and have the full support and cooperation of the Sugarcreek police

· Sugarcreek police and Officer Busch will respond immediately to cruelty complaints

Mr. Baker complained angrily several times during the meeting, claiming that animal welfare organizations had “almost bankrupted” him. Attempting to justify the way horses are handled at his auction and during transport, he claimed that it was terribly wrong that the transport of blind horses was outlawed since some blind horses would “travel better than horses that are able to see”, and that horses only got trampled because they were sick and weak to begin with, not because of the handling.

Baker admitted that he stopped shipping to Morton, TX for export to Mexico two years ago “after all the trouble” he had. Animals’ Angels investigations regarding transportation issues and Coggins documents resulted in a USDA investigation, the case is still ongoing. Shipping to Canada shortens the transport time for Sugarcreek horses from over 60 hours in transit to approx.14 hours. Information obtained from a recent FOIA request confirms Baker’s statement, as well as recent investigations by Animals’ Angels.

While the response of those at the meeting was helpful overall, Mayor Johnson seemed to find the topic of discussion and Baker’s outbreaks amusing and was observed several times giggling with the auction veterinarian. Apparently either misinformed or lacking information borne out by years of documentation, he stated in the local paper that “most of the horses [at Sugarcreek auction] are either wild or old.” His only concern appeared to be that people called a phone number that is “only for his constituents” and had asked him to make Baker pay the $172,000.00 fine he still owes the federal government.

If you would like to contact Mayor Johnson about something other than the fine, please send an email to MayorJohnson@villageofsugarcreek.com or call him at 330-852-4112. Please refrain from calling 330-852-2271.

Alternatively, Humane Officer Busch’s contributions made the meeting more productive and enhanced the potential for positive outcomes. Though he works full-time and is paid only $500 per month as the county humane officer, he offered to take time off of his regular job every Friday in order to attend the auction, to check for compliance with animal cruelty laws and to check for Baker’s adherence to promised changes.

Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper/Commercial Vehicle Division SGT Wolfe was very interested in several issues AA investigators had observed weekly at the auction, including the large number of out-of state pick up trucks delivering horses to the auction without valid DOT numbers. Despite Baker’s explosive complaints, he agreed to increase inspections on Fridays in Sugarcreek based on our complaints.

According to Animals’ Angels Director and attorney Sonja Meadows, “If the agreed upon changes are implemented, the major problems at Sugarcreek auction will be resolved. That is a huge benefit for the animals.”

Investigators will be present at upcoming auctions to monitor for promised changes. If the agreed upon changes are not implemented, additional measures and a major campaign to elicit the cooperation of Baker and local officials is planned. “This is a very good start but promises must become actions. They are by no means ‘off the hook’,” said Meadows.

Additional Info:

The local newspaper account is a bit confusing , but it did herald that changes are due at Sugarcreek auction. The article may be viewed at

http://www.timesreporter.com/communities/x816846550/Changes-to-be-made-in-horse-auctions