NH Boy Joins Fight to Save America’s Horses

By Joey Cresta as posted on SeaCoastOnline.com

Declan Gregg Joins EWA‘s Children’s Letter Writing Campaign

Declan Gregg, 9, of Greenland pets Barney Thursday afternoon at the N.H. SPCA in Stratham. Gregg will be going to Washington, D.C., next month to testify before lawmakers. ~ photo by Ioanna Raptis

GREENLAND, NH — A shy, soft-spoken local boy is raising his voice to tell his representatives in Concord and Washington that horse slaughter is cruel and inhumane.

Nine-year-old Declan Gregg has already testified in front of the N.H. House Environment and Agriculture Committee and next month will travel with his mother, Stacie Gregg, to Washington, D.C., to present letters to Congress as part of the Million Horse March children’s letter-writing campaign to stop horse slaughter.

Horse slaughter is a controversial topic in the United States. Though horse meat is not typically consumed in this country, it is considered a delicacy in places like France, Belgium and Japan, according to Joanne Bourbeau, northeastern regional director for the Humane Society of the United States.

Teresa Paradis, executive director of Live and Let Live Farm agricultural animal rescue in Chichester, said meat from horses raised in the United States is poisonous and not fit for human consumption. That is because horses are regularly given Butozone, a pain killer and anti-inflammatory, and other drugs that humans should not ingest, Paradis said.

Joan Ganotis, a North Hampton resident and member of the N.H. Horse Council, said the horse slaughter controversy is multifaceted. She is not a proponent of horse slaughter, but said there are many horses starving to death in their owners’ yards.

“To me, a humane slaughter is much kinder to the animal than letting him starve to death in your back yard,” she said.

Ganotis said people who want to own a horse often do not consider the significant costs. A horse will go through a $5 bale of hay in a day or two, eat a $12 bag of grain every two weeks, need hoof trimmings every six to eight weeks for $25 to $35 and horseshoes that cost $100 or more. Beyond that, horses need shots every spring at $200 to $300, teeth care, supplements and vitamins and other checkups, she said.

“They’re not like a bicycle,” she said. “Even in the winter when you’re not riding them you’ve still got to feed them. You’ve still got to take care of them.”

She and Paradis both recommended measures to promote responsible horse breeding. Ganotis said those in the thoroughbred industry often breed horses to excess and that there should be a breed registry with limits on the number of horses that can be registered in a year.

Bourbeau said that many people who give up their horses to auction do not realize that someone in the slaughter business has a good chance of buying them. She said the responsibility is on the owner to euthanize a horse rather than give it up for auction.

“More than 92 percent of those that go to slaughter are actually in good condition and could be re-homed,” she said.

According to Jerry Finch of habitatforhorses.org, proponents of slaughter argue that it is done humanely, provides disposal for unwanted horses for poor people and that only sick, old and injured horses are sent to slaughter.

However, the Web site states undercover films reveal horses led to slaughter are often subjected to prolonged suffering. Panicked horses are often prodded and beaten off a truck and onto a “kill-chute,” and improper use of stunning equipment means horses sometimes endure repeated blows and remain conscious during the process, which includes throat slitting.

“There is no way to humanely slaughter a horse,” Bourbeau said. “They’re a very different animal than (those typical of the slaughter industry). It’s just horrific, horrific deaths for these animals.”

The descriptions of slaughtering disgusted Stacie Gregg, who volunteers at the N.H. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Stratham. She said she was researching the issue when her son became curious and asked if he could do anything to help.

“I could tell she was working really hard on something,” he said. “I personally didn’t think (horse slaughter) was right. I thought it was inhumane.”

So Declan, who enjoys spending time with horses such as Barney and Betty at the SPCA, got to work. He created a blog that he updates regularly at www.children4horses.blogspot.com. He also went to Concord last month to testify about House Bill 1446, a bill relative to the meat inspection program that would except equine meat from inspection, processing and sale.

The bill would protect horses from one passed last year to establish a state meat inspection system. That bill, HB 339, was intended to help farmers who would like to send livestock to a slaughterhouse but inadvertently applied the provisions to horses as well, advocates said.

“The good news in New Hampshire is I’m sure they were not intending for horse slaughter to come here commercially,” said Suzanne Bryant, barn manager at the SPCA.

Gregg will travel to Washington, D.C., next month for a three-day trip. The intent is to deliver letters to Congress showing lawmakers how many people care about the issue. There is a bill in Congress, HR 2966, known as the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011, that would prohibit horse slaughter in the United States and make illegal the shipping of horses to other countries for slaughter. Horses today are sent to Canada and Mexico, where they can be legally slaughtered.

Gregg’s goal is to get 115 letters before his trip, “but I think I’ll get a lot more than that,” he said.

The SPCA is assisting his effort by sponsoring a letter-writing party at its Portsmouth Avenue facility March 18.

Bourbeau, who saw Gregg’s testimony before the N.H. House Environment and Agriculture Committee, said she was impressed with how genuinely he spoke to the issue.

“He obviously feels very passionately about this issue and it shows,” she said. “It’s very intimidating the first time you do that. I thought it was really brave of him.”

Stacie Gregg said she is glad her son is learning to speak up for what he believes in. “He just wants to be able to tell his government that he thinks it’s inhumane and cruel,” she said. “It’s been great to see him find his voice. He’s kind of a quiet kid. This is really coming out of his shell for him.”

Help Declan reach and even surpass his goal of 115 letters!!  You can send children’s letters and drawings about horses to Declan at: C/O Children 4 Horses, PO Box 614, Greenland, NH 03840 for him to bring to Washington DC with him or directly to the letter writing campaign.  Jo-Claire from the EWA (Equine Welfare Alliance) knows he’s collecting all the letters he can and we will get them to her in time – no worries!!  If you send them directly to the campaign, can you reference Declan on an attached note, so we can keep track of the count for his goal  🙂  He would course LOVE to see the letters over-flowing in his PO Box!!  Thank you again for all your help in supporting our children find their voices and stand up for what they believe in!!

To Comment at SeaCoastOnline.com Click (HERE)
To Learn More about Equine Welfare Alliance Children’s Letter Writing Campaign Click (HERE)

11 comments on “NH Boy Joins Fight to Save America’s Horses

  1. Power to the kids ! Thank you Declan !! Your compassion is contagious and I hope your actions will inspire many others across this nation – you show great leadership and that is what makes you special – dealing with a complex issue that needs exposure and the truth to come out against a profit-driven propaganda where of course animals are exploited once again: horse slaughter, a most predatory, brutal industry. Keep up the good fight and send this to other kids’ groups, 4H groups, riding clubs… because most do not know.

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    • Monika, Thank you so much for your encouragement of Declan. I know I am biased since I’m his mom, but Declan truly is an amazing kid with a HUGE heart for all the animals 🙂 PLEASE comment on the newspaper article to let the local media know that horse slaughter is an important issue that cannot continue to be ignored! The reporter Joey, who interviewed Declan was VERY interested in what is going on and I really think that if they get enough hits, there will be a follow up story which we really need as HB 1446 was just shot down in NH and our horses are NOT protected from slaughter. Of course, we will invite Joey to cover the Children 4 Horses Letter Writing Party Declan is hosting at the NHSPCA on March 18th, but we really need the adults to get involved!!

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      • Stacie: You as his mom teach your son the values he can be proud of. Education is the sole tool and young people are the next leaders (or crooks) – so it is imperative we teach them the reality, and influence them with our views. Who is to decide it if is biased ? Those who don’t agree with our impact on their agenda… those who fear us and dismiss us for self-serving purposes. I hope Declan will inspire hundreds more and I urge you to network the following link, and share it with Joey the reporter as well, it is the best source of information on this complex topic.
        http://savingamericashorses.blogspot.com/2012/02/facts-that-refute-7-most-common-myths.html

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  2. Help Declan reach and even surpass his goal of 115 letters!! You can send children’s letters and drawings about horses to Declan at: C/O Children 4 Horses, PO Box 614, Greenland, NH 03840 for him to bring to Washington DC with him or directly to the letter writing campaign. Jo-Claire from the EWA (Equine Welfare Alliance) knows he’s collecting all the letters he can and we will get them to her in time – no worries!! If you send them directly to the campaign, can you reference Declan on an attached note, so we can keep track of the count for his goal 🙂 He would course LOVE to see the letters over-flowing in his PO Box!! Thank you again for all your help in supporting our children find their voices and stand up for what they believe in!!

    Like

      • RT,

        ABSOLUTELY!!! This has been an AMAZING journey for both Declan and I and we have felt very blessed to be supported by so many wonderful people along the way! Declan is also trying to raise funds for his trip to Washington DC as well as for letter writing supplies for the various speaking engagements he has been invited to already. He also will be making a contribution from proceeds to the NHSPCA’s SOS fund for the horses which will be used for things like hay and feed for local horses in need and extra vet bills for the horses at the NHSPCA.

        Declan has been invited to speak to two local Girl Scout troops as well the KIND club(s) and during vacation week camp(s) at the NHSPCA and his blog was already used as a lesson at a local public school. We have also reached out to my grade school in IL and they are not only going to post information on their FB page, but have taken the issue to the student council and are encouraging the kids to participate in any way they can above and beyond the letter writing campaign.

        The lesson for adults is to never underestimate the power of a child. You have posted several pieces on what kids have done and continue to do to fight for our horses. I for one, am truly inspired to never give up by children’s endless efforts to be a voice for the voiceless.

        Thank you for posting the article to your blog!!

        ~Stacie

        Like

  3. Declan…you are truly an inspiration! I truly hope that your voice and message resonates throughout Washington D.C. like no others before you. As R.T. would say, “May the Force of the Horse be with You”.

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  4. Declan, I’m going to tell my nine-year-old nephew in Georgia about this. He will surely want to help you, huge animal-lover that he is.

    Are you any relation to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judd_Gregg ???

    If so, I hope that smooths your entry into Concord and Washington, D.C.!

    If not, your name (wonderful first name, familiar last name) will STILL help the cause. Hey, whatever works — whatever is legal and moral, that is — we can use on behalf of America’s horses (and burros, too!).

    I second Terry’s good wishes: “May the Force of the Horse be with You.”

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  5. Declan. What an amazing child you are. I know when you speak your concerns will show in your voice and will be sincere. You are an inspiration for all children to follow. Our four legged equines cannot speak for themselves and to have one so young speak for them is truly a love that cannot be measured by any means. All of us that love these animals will be with you when you are in Washington D.C. and we will remain committed as you are to save all of these beautiful animals. May God go with you and help you to win the fight for our beautiful horses and burros. And as tzfitch said above, “May the Force of the Horse be with You”. Just imagine Barney is by your side and you are trying to protect and see that he has the life, love, and comfort he deserves and I’m sure there will be tears by those that are listening to you. God Bless you for what you are doing and we will be the victor for these beautiful animals. And, Stacie, I know how proud you are of Declan and you have the right to be proud. He is an unusual young man to be so concerned for these animals.

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  6. So very proud of this young man and his parental guidance! To learn now that his voice counts is an important lesson in life and ensures he will continue to make a difference in righting the wrongs of our Nation. Hats off to this family and to Dedan! I have no doubt you will accomplish great things in your life time! May God always walk beside you Dedan!

    There should be no question of our politicians to accept that 80% of the citizens, not to include the children, are opposed to horse slaughter. Time to kick the dirty boys that we pay to be corrupt out of DC!

    Like

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