Horse News

NM Horse Slaughter Wanna-Be Accuses USDA of IRS Tactics

Sources: Multiple

Slaughter Plant Owner Continues to Point Accusatory Finger at Everyone other than Himself
Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he plans to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)

Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he plans to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.  — A southeastern New Mexico company’s plans to convert a cattle plant into a horse slaughterhouse has hit another roadblock, this time over an environmental dispute that the company’s attorney blames on the Obama administration putting politics over policy.

Blair Dunn, who represents Valley Meat Co. of Roswell in its more than yearlong effort to get approval to slaughter horses, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture keeps changing the rules because it opposes horse slaughter.

USDA officials referred questions to the Justice Department, which did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Valley Meat’s application to resume domestic horse slaughter has ignited an emotional, national debate over whether horses are livestock or domestic companions. The company wants to ship horse meat to countries where it is consumed by humans and sold for things like zoo food.

The issue has divided horse rescue and animal welfare groups, ranchers, politicians and Indian tribes about what is the most humane way to deal with the country’s horse overpopulation and the rising number of neglected and starving horses as the West deals with persistent drought.

Since the company passed its inspection in late April, officials have been dragging their feet on giving the plant final approval to open by questioning whether it needs a permit under the federal Clean Water Act for discharging waste into water, Dunn said. The plant, he said, doesn’t discharge anything into water, and such a permit was never needed during the 20 years the plant slaughtered cattle.

“If these were not requirements for a cattle facility, they cannot now suddenly become requirements for a horse facility,” Dunn said in an email to David Glass, who is one of the attorneys representing the USDA against a lawsuit by Valley Meat over delays in approving its application.

Dunn compared the process to that of the Internal Revenue Service, which has been accused of subjecting conservative political groups to extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.

“Should somebody be looking into whether or not there is direction from the White House to use/abuse USDA/EPA authority with regard to Valley Meat because they are on the other side of a political issue from the president?” Dunn said he wrote to Glass.

Dunn says Glass has not replied in writing but has left two voicemails saying the issue with the permit involves questions over whether the company needs the discharge permit as mandated by the Clean Water Act.

Glass, like the USDA, referred questions to the Justice Department’s communications office, which did not immediately return phone calls.

The state Environment Department confirmed Valley Meat has a closed lagoon type system for its waste, and said to its knowledge the slaughterhouse has never had or needed the federal water discharge permit. Its current state permit for the lagoon is up for renewal.

The issue of whether the plant needs the federal permit was first raised by some of the groups opposed to congressional action in 2011 that restored USDA funding for horse slaughter inspections, essentially legalizing the practice that had been banned in 2006 when Congress cut the funding.

Front Range Equine Rescue and the Humane Society of the United States have filed notice of their intent to sue the USDA if it lets Valley Meat begin horse slaughter without the proper permits.

Department of Agriculture officials did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Dunn’s allegations. But shortly after the latest inspection of the plant in April, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told The Associated Press the plant will open, unless Congress restores the ban on horse slaughter.

Dunn says the USDA is acting in bad faith, dragging its feet while it actively lobbies Congress to reinstate a ban.

The Obama administration’s most recent budget proposal eliminates funding for inspections of horse slaughterhouses, which would effectively reinstate a ban on the industry.

Proponents of a return to domestic horse slaughter point to a 2011 report from the federal Government Accountability Office that shows horse abuse and abandonment have been increasing since slaughter was banned in 2006. They say it is better to slaughter the animals in humane, federally regulated facilities than have them abandoned to starve across the drought-stricken West or shipped to inhumane facilities in Mexico.

The number of U.S. horses sent to other countries for slaughter has nearly tripled since 2006. And many humane groups agree that some of the worst abuse occurs in the slaughter pipeline. Many are pushing for a both a ban on domestic slaughter as well as a ban on shipping horses to Mexico and Canada.

34 replies »

  1. Rick De Los “Satin” hasn’t figured out yet the only person getting rich over this whole mess is his lawyer. He’ll never be free from harassment if he should open. He’ll have to sleep with one eye open and I’m sure once the USDA inspects the first meat produced and finds it laced with Bute…the fat lady will be singing.

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  2. Here we go again. De Los Santos shouldn’t be allowed an inspection grant/permit for this plant, period. The man is a twice-convicted felon who had multiple violations from his previous cattle slaughter operation which included improper disposal of waste materials and environmental damage/concerns. He is proposing to use a modified and unapproved captive bold gun on an animal he has no experience stunning. This is one of the main concerns of violating the humane slaughter act especially when there is so much prior documentation disclosing the problems concerning this issue in horse slaughter plants already in operation. This is a disaster in the making. And with little to no market and his responses for where and how he is going to acquire and market his products, we should all be very suspicious and concerned about the legality and safety/compliance of such.

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    • So, this guy wants to receive bogus “non-profit” status? What a joke. This is one instance where the a governmental agency – the USDA – is trying to protect the public from a felon who has already demonstrated that he is a scuff law concerning environmental laws. His application should have been denied a long time ago.

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      • His app should have been filed under g for garbage !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Does he think hes going to strong arm them >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..

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    • De Los Santos probably has a variety of misdemeanor violations that started as felonies & were pled down – this info can be discovered about as easily as the felonies were. As everyone here knows, horses have twice as much blood as cows do, & any runoff, whether on ground or into water has great potential to contaminate both soil & water tables below the soil. Dunn’s argument is invalid, since Valley Meats should have had a clean water permit when they slaughtered cows – not having a permit then doesn’t negate the necessity for one now.

      What happens when the US gets sued by foreign & domestic plaintiffs for the medical problems people get from eating the adulterated meat – the government should be considering this possibility.

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  3. Valley Meat, DeLaSantos and Dunn, take your “Cold War Tactics” and push on; get the hell out! The only reason the idiot is close to killing horses against the will of the citizens of the United States is, the trickery of a few crooked Congressmen that change wording in a Bill, without a VOTE! Why is the Department of Justice not investigating the back door dealings of Congress, BLM and the DOI under the direction of the Cattle Rancher, Salazar. As for Obama, he hasn’t done a thing to protect wildlife, animals and HORSES since he took office. To blame him, is comical. There are many Senators that are continuing to ignore constituents wishes regarding horse slaughter because of the money being thrown at them from the BEEF, Oil & Gas and numerous others that would permanently ruin a town, public lands and our children’s future for the sake of money. I’m glad to be part of the people who are not giving in and continue to fight for our nations wildlife and companion animals, who have no voice but ours.

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    • Debbie, you are so politically correct. It really pisses me off how these people are getting away with their horse slaughtering agenda. I just hope that horse slaughter comes to a hault right away. No more shipping horses to Canada or Mexico. Closed down all of the horse slaughter plants in Cananda and Mexico. No more horse slaughter! Make it a felon when someone kills a horse.

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  4. This is a disaster in the making. De Los Santos should never be allowed or granted a permit for inspection of this hell hole. He is a twice convicted felon with many prior violations from his previous debacle which included inhumane treatment issues as well as improper disposal of waste products and environmental damage. He wants to use a modified captive bolt gun for stunning which has not been approved for use as such and with the concerns over violating the humane slaughter act already an issue in plants currently operating, I see this as another potential disaster. He has no experience slaughtering horses and where and how he has proposed he is going to get the horses and market the products are certainly issues of concern and legality. This plant needs to stay as it is and should remain……closed.

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    • Susan….agree’d……. AMEN!!!!!….I’ve been saying all of this about…. ol’ De Los Santos for awhile now……………….The thought of this guy opening is beyond words………….. considering his violations and being a felon and “the Sociopath next door”…..This can’t happen…………………..

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      • There is not a Sociopath next door to Valley Meat. there is a Veterinarian who owns a Kentucky Derby Winner, named Mine That Bird. His practice track is just over the fence from Valley Meat’s back door. You know, where the carcasses and offal were rotting in the sun for years, right along-side the dairy silage pits, 200 yards from the South Springs River. I’m sure he never smelled a thing.

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  5. Not to mention that the Louse, oh excuse me De Los is an ex felon. With two new ones on the books… Now why hasn’t anything been done about that?.. Why is HE still standing?

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  6. USDA I hope is aware that if horses were to be slaughtered (God Forbid) that blood so toxic, where ever it goes containing the chemicals that cause cancer and other illnesses, would eventually enter onto land, our waters, farmlands, and our food. The Health Department, too, I hope has taken this thought seriously enough to prevent such illnesses.

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  7. If the plant was for cattle, it should stay for cattle and not try to slaughter American horses ! Horses are not to be slaughtered for food…they have helped this Country become what it is today…

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  8. dum dum dunn, valley meats was in Clean Water Act violation (among other violations) the years they slaughtered cattle. why a national debate over horses being livestock or companion animals, when FDA already recognizes them as companion animals? santos is a felon and his attorney is a liar.

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    • Think they have selective memory about their previous fine/violation history

      Regardless, my heart is bleeding peanut butter and jelly to a tune of tiny violins over their plight

      That pic of him needs to show all the blood that would be in that room if this blight on America were to happen…..anyone do photoshop?

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  9. Rick, you’re a maggot-infested piece of sh*$. I hope the law changes and mandates the only way you can slaughter cows or horses is if you can only do it with your two bare hands. I hope you’ve taken a million kicks to your groin from your victims. You scrawny loser..standing there with your butchering knife like it’s your pride and joy. Hope your fingers slip one day. It will ALL come back to you.

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  10. If horse slaughter continues, and if slaughterhouses that slaughter horses re-open in the United States, and to PREVENT taxpayers from paying even ONE PENNY for inspections by the USDA, here is a list of requirements I put together that would close a lot of loopholes for people in the slaughter business so they would NOT be able to continue to operate unethically and illegally. Might be difficult to enforce, however, if we taxpayers demand that they be followed, perhaps with our majority numbers we could either shut down the horse slaughter industry here in the US (because quite frankly, as a business owner myself, I’m beyond tired of horse slaughter dealers ALWAYS operating outside the law in terms of business licensing, maintaining commercial insurance, getting finger printed and background checked like I have to do, etc–NO MORE FREE RIDES FOR THESE LOSERS!) or we can force them to spend money in order to operate legally and not have we taxpayers be forced to pay for their businesses.

    These rules and regulations would also protect horse owners who would never in a million years ship a horse to their horrific death by slaughter from from being forced to abide by the same rules as proposed by the NAIS and other restrictive and controlling agencies our government is trying to force down the throats of ANY horse owners, including those of us who are completely ANTI-HORSE SLAUGHTER, for food chain animals as those who deal directly or indirectly in horse slaughter and are horse slaughter dealers:

    1. Anyone who deals in horse slaughter, be it a breeder, a kill buyer, an owner, a rancher, a transporter, a slaughterhouse owner, a trainer, etc, will have to secure and pay for a Dealer’s License, complete with background checks, finger printing, fee’s, etc.
    Seriously, when I sold 3 cars and a horse trailer in a month, I was contacted by entities (the county I live in regarding a business license and the taxation board) that said I needed to get a Dealer’s license even though I really was a private party seller. Why shouldn’t people dealing and making a living with horse slaughter have to secure a Dealer’s license, complete with an IRS filing, and have all of their own rules, regulations and requirements separate from the rest of us horse people who don’t deal in slaughter?
    Also, MANY people involved in horse slaughter are convicted felons, are often on parole, have warrants out on them, have issues with their drivers licenses (suspended, revoked, need an SR-22 filing, etc), so many people will NOT get finger printed and/or have background checks performed because they are afraid they will end up in jail.
    2. Anyone dealing in horse slaughter will be required to carry COMMERCIAL liability business insurance with at least 1 million dollar liability limits, AND will also be required to pay for and carry COMMERCIAL vehicle insurance with the higher limits.
    MOST of the people involved in slaughter use their regular stock trailers for towing horses around locally (before the horse is shipped to a slaughter facility and usually transported with 10 or more horses), however, if an at-fault accident occurs and their insurance carrier finds out the accident occurred while their vehicles were being used for business/commercial purposes, any claims will be denied/declined by the claims adjuster.
    I know this because my husband was an insurance broker for 30 years and just buying a horse at the kill sale which will be shipped to slaughter and driving them home in the smaller stock trailer is considered by the insurance company to be business/commercial use of the vehicle if it is investigated and found to be a business the individual is operating using statutory vehicle insurance instead of commercial insurance (rates are A LOT higher for commercial), then the claim will be denied.
    3. because the stakes are a bit higher when it comes to horse slaughter and shipping possibly tainted horse meat and sickening and/or killing people, anyone dealing in horse slaughter will have to carry General Liability Insurance to cover possible claims, and also prosecution for dealing in tainted horse meat.
    4. For the breeders (and this includes the ranch breeding programs of which we are seeing 100’s of pregnant mares, open broodmares, young stock, and old ranch horses who can’t “do” anymore sold directly to the feedlot we have been doing weekly rescues from and it is heart breaking and disgusting because we are only offered a few to rescue and the rest ship to slaughter), who regularly “breed and dump” horses at the kill sales and/or ship directly to slaughter, they will be required to microchip and/or freeze or hot brand their horses to be able to identify them when they go to slaughter. When one of their horses goes through, the horse will be held, the breeder will be contacted and will be required to provide an entire record from birth of the horses vaccination records, drug records, dewormer and supplements records, other “additives” records, etc. Every person that has owned that horse between the breeder and when they end up at the slaughterhouse will also be required to provide documentation/records on the horse as well. If these records are not provided, the horse cannot be slaughtered and must be humanely euthanized and disposed of at the sellers’ expense.
    5. Also for the breeders, they will have a quota of the number of horses they can produce every year (like what they have in many European countries, where they breed higher quality horses because they are breeding for quality instead of quantity) and if they go over their quota, they will be taxed/fined for every horse over the quota.
    6. Anyone dealing in slaughter horses will have their own required Bill of Sale stating that the horse is either free of drugs, vaccines, dewormers, additives, etc, or they are not, and they will be required to sign with copies going to their State, the Buyer, one for them, and a copy goes to the Federal government. This will enable a horses ownership, drug, and additive record to be more precisely traced. And although I do know people are always yapping about “less government”, I’ve also noticed that these same people always want less government when it doesn’t benefit them, but more government when it does. This slaughter Bill of Sale will also differentiate the people who deal in horse slaughter from other horse people who do not, and will keep the anti-horse slaughter people from being subjected to rules, laws and regulations like the NAIS that not only cost us money, but also infringe on our private non-business/non-slaughter ownership of horses when we are not putting any horses into the food chain with drugs and other additives in their systems. Those of us who are in fact anti-horse slaughter should never be targeted just because other horse people choose to deal in horse slaughter.
    7. The seller of the horse going to slaughter will also pay an inspection fee at the slaughterhouse so that we taxpayers don’t have to;
    8. Anyone sending a horse to slaughter will be required that THEY pay for a blood test to test for drugs and other “additives” in the horses system, and the horse will be held until the results of the blood test come back. If the horse is found to have drugs or other additives in their system and paperwork has been signed saying they were clean, not only will the seller have to pay for humane euthanasia and disposal of the horses body AT the facility they are at, than the person performing the fraudulent actions will be: *First time offense-fined, *Second offense-fined and suspended from selling horses to slaughter for 1 year, *Third offense-prosecuted as a repeat offender in fraudulent activities, possibly jailed, and their licensing is permanently revoked as a Dealer.

    In closing however, if all anti-horse slaughter people banded together and without going on witch hunts began systematically finding out who the SUPPLIERS are that are selling horses by the trailer loads at kill sales, directly to feedlots, and often taking the horses directly to the slaughterhouse (which will happen a lot if horse slaughter houses are re-opened in the United States) and PUBLICIZE who the CHEATERS are who use horse slaughter as their very own FREE disposal system, then the OPPORTUNISTS like De Los Santos would NOT have nearly enough horses to slaughter and make a profit from.

    As long as we have SUPPLIERS of horses into the slaughter pipeline, there will ALWAYS be OPPORTUNISTS to take advantage of the SUPPLY of horses, mules and donkeys that will make their money off of them being slaughtered. If we stop the major supply and flow of horses, mules and donkeys into the slaughter pipeline, then the OPPORTUNISTS would not make enough money to warrant staying in business and they would find opportunities elsewhere.

    MANY of the people that dump horses for FREE at kill sales, feedlots and slaughterhouses DO NOT want anyone to know who they are, where they live, etc, so targeting them for exposure to their friends, family, business associates at their “real jobs” and also business associates in the horse world in horse racing, showing in many events (including high dollar hunter/jumpers AND dressage too), other breeders, trainers, owners, etc, who are anti-horse slaughter and who actually behave responsibly and don’t breed too many and also have the horses that can’t “do” anymore humanely euthanized, etc. would force MANY of them to stop supplying horses into the slaughter pipeline because they REALLY DO NOT WANT people to know who they are and what they are doing (cheating in a horrific way)…..sure, a lot of people have put together lists of who the kill buyers are, however, the kill buyers are OPPORTUNISTS and most simply don’t care if people know they are kill buyers.
    But the SUPPLIERS? MOST of them do NOT want people to know who they are and that they dispose of horses to slaughter for FREE like the cheaters they are……
    THAT would ruin the public image for many of them (the ones who run in the upper class circles who have money and would not want someone to turn to them at a dinner party and say “I hope it’s not true, but I heard you dispose of your horses to slaughter which is very inhumane and cruel, is it really true you do that?” Now THAT would be a priceless series of videos to take and post on YouTube when the suppliers are asked questions like that!)

    If it was actually added up how much the SUPPLIERS are SAVING when they DO NOT pay for humane euthanasia AND disposal of the horses body and instead PAY NOTHING by selling to the feedlots and kill sales and actually are PAID for their horse by-the-pound which varies depending on the area of the country but are still them receiving money, I think that not only would people be astonished by who much these cheaters save, but I KNOW that if the suppliers were exposed and stopped doing what they’re doing instead of getting our government to go along with THEM and force the rest of us horse owners to abide by rules set forth by agencies like the NAIS that have nothing to do with we ANTI-slaughter horse people, there would NOT be enough horses supplied for the opportunists to stay in business.

    Laura Bell
    http://www.thestarlightsanctuary.org
    http://www.starwoodfarm.com

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  11. This man if Im not mistaken stared in the chainsaw massacre movie , looks like him anyway !!!!! HE STUNK IN IT ALSO !!!!! Just what is needed another liar running a horse slaughter plant !!!!!

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  12. First thought…
    Attorney Blair it’s called SEQUESTRATION! There is no money for inspections! And what money there is has to go to inspect food for people IN THIS COUNTRY.

    I honestly don’t know how difficult this is to comprehend. You can’t slaughter and export that meat without inspections. Wastewater etc be damned. And they claim all they want how their water is held on their property.

    Look at the past history. They’ve been shut down for violations in the past concerning cattle slaughter. Attorney Blair I don’t know what is so darn difficult for you to comprehend. I know you have to protect your clients rights buts lets talk money here.

    THERE ISN’T ANY FOR THE INSPECTIONS REQUIRED FOR HORSE SLAUGHTER. THERE IS NO MONEY TO TRAIN INSPECTORS IN THE NEWEST INSPECTION TECHNIQUES.

    It’s time for you and your client to accept that perhaps you guys blew it. Even if you do get your inspections and permits–the EU won’t accept horse. Russia won’t. China maybe. But then they keep sending us poisonous dog food, toys and whatnot. Turnabout here is not the way to manage this.

    So let me ask you a real live question. You can answer or Mr. Santos can. JUST WHO DO YOU PLAN ON SELLING YOUR POISONOUS HORSEMEAT TOO? Unsuspecting school children? Prisoners? Those starving in Africa?

    Muslims have strict Kosher standards. They don’t refer to it as kosher since that is a Hebrew word but it mostly describes the same thing. Animals must butchered in a certain manner. Certain prayers must said. And I believe certain religious leaders must be in attendance during the slaughter.

    The captive bolt does not fit Kosher standards. You have to use an extremely sharp blade, you have to slice through neck in one slice. No sawing back and forth. No second chances. Muslims have stricter guidelines that Jewish in regards to how animals are to be treated before slaughter.

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  13. RT my previous comment is in moderation. Please just let it go off into cyberspace. There are blatant errors in it.

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  14. It’s possible that this comment was not seen by all readers:
    Lorna Moffat says:

    June 4, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    Dear R.T. Finch, It may lighten your heart to know that our newly formed organization is geared to taking legal action to stop horse slaughter http://www.noequineslaughter.org. When Sec. Vilasak issues any permit to open up a horse slaughter facility we will be there with a lawsuit to stop it. Spread the word! Thanks for all you do! Best Lorna Moffat Director

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    • Just tried to donate on the noequineslaughter.org site and could not make it work. Hope they can get that straightened out asap as there will likely be a burst of initial donations. Lawsuits cost money.

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  15. http://www.noequineslaughter.org.

    Citizens Against Equine Slaughter pledge to:
    Stop the practice of equine slaughter and protect equines (wild and domestic) from cruel and harmful practices;

    Monitor the government’s land use and resource management activities, as well as the impacts of agency decisions on equines;

    Inform and educate the public about the decisions and activities of government agencies affecting equines;

    Board of Directors:
    Dr. Lester Friedlander
    BA, DVM, Former USDA Chief Meat Inspector
    Dr. Lester Friedlander boasts immaculate credentials as an expert on the workings of the U.S. meat industry. Having spent countless thousands of hours on the slaughterhouse killing floor, amidst countless thousands of carcasses destined for dinner plates across America, Dr. Friedlander is now a strict vegetarian and an outspoken critic of the U.S. meat industry. Dr. Friedlander saw too many animals cruelly mishandled and tormented at slaughter, too many missteps in the inspection process, and too many slip-ups, sacrificing both human and animal welfare. After revealing the secrets of the USDA’s meat inspection process on national television, the USDA handed him his walking papers. Now he speaks out about the drastic shortcomings in the Federal food inspection system and the inherent problems of commercial horse slaughter, in hopes of enlightening the public and reforming the USDA/FSIS.

    Patience O’Dowd
    [bio]

    Lorna Moffat
    [bio]

    Jo-Claire Corcoran
    Jo-Claire has been an advocate for horses for several years: through her association with Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) as a Subject Matters Expert and currently as a member of the EWA Board of Directors. She has spearheaded the Children’s Letter Writing Campaign and a public awareness campaign to stop horse slaughter, which included a Public Service Announcement that aired in several markets throughout the country. Jo-Claire has spent a lifetime with horses in one capacity or another, working with local law enforcement as a consultant on cruelty investigations, horse owner and advocate. She shares her life with her husband and grandson as well as a rescued Off Track Thoroughbred, Strategic Aim. When she is not advocating for horses she works in medical sales.

    James Kleinert
    [bio]

    Jordan Beckett
    Jordan is an Oregon attorney whose practice is primarily focused on federal public lands management. He uses land management statutes to preserve forests, rivers, and wildlife, and makes sure agencies comply with the law before conducting projects on our public lands. Jordan has a law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law, where he was as an editor of the Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation.

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  16. BLAME BLAME BLAME, maybe if he and DUNN didn’t want to kill horses they wouldn’t have to go through this, oh my what a headache this business has become.. Wow! Really, all the agencies are assisting to stop something that wasn’t already given an actual stamp of approval. He advised his client to go forward and expect that all this would just mysteriously go away and people who have experienced these plants would just quit speaking out against it-he was mistaken.

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