Horse News

December Full of Christmas Cheer for American Horses

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Quietly, while most Americans made plans for holiday festivities several major milestones occurred this month that will enhance the safety and security of American equines during the upcoming new year. The activities of salvation seemed to occur unnoticed but we at SFTHH and WHFF want you to be well informed and perhaps even celebrate a bit over what has occurred.

First, Congress passed the Omnibus Bill on December 13th. The bill is a package that includes parts of the fiscal year 2015 appropriations bills and will fund most government agencies and programs until the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30, 2015.

The legislation included language that prohibits the USDA from using any funds to provide inspectors at meat processing facilities that slaughter horses, continuing an effective block that has been in place since 2005, except for a brief period in 2012-13.

No horse slaughter facilities are operating in the United States, and the bill will prevent any such facility from opening until Sept. 30, 2015.

The language was included in the omnibus bill because both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees adopted amendments that prohibited funding for inspectors at horse slaughter facilities when they debated and approved their respective versions of the 2015 USDA appropriations bill. Many thanks to those who lobby on behalf of our horses in Washington D.C..

As a bonus the bill also contains a provision that would prohibit the Bureau of Land Management from euthanizing healthy wild horses in its care or from selling wild horses or burros that result in their being processed into commercial products. Small step forward for the wild ones but a move forward none the less.

Secondly, and this may be the final death blow to the predatory business of horse slaughter, the European Commission has suspended the import of horsemeat from Mexico to the European Union (EU) due to food safety concerns. We equine advocates have tried to stay focused on the issue of food safety for years and it appears that such perseverance has finally paid off.

Effective Jan. 15, the commission has suspended a residue monitoring plan that tests for the presence of horse meat in other imported meat products, according to Aikaterini Apostola, press officer for health for the European Commission, during a recent published interview.

“Such suspension results in a ban of the import of horse meat, meat preparations, and meat products from Mexico,” Apostola stated in an email. “The measure has been taken after repeated negative outcomes of the audits carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office of the Commission’s Health and Consumers Directorate General in Mexico, the last of them in June 2014. This last audit also showed that many of the corrective actions that Mexico committed to take following previous audits were not yet taken.”

A key issue for the 28-member commission was inhumane treatment of the horses being shipped from the United States to Mexican slaughterhouses.

Michael Scannell, director of the Food and Veterinary Office, addressed the issue Nov. 30 at a European Parliament Intergroup meeting in Brussels by stating;

“In general, the worst contraventions we know are in relation to transport,” Scannell said. “By way of example, we will publish a report in the next number of weeks in relation to Mexico where we saw animals which arrived dead from the United States or non-ambulatory, i.e., they weren’t even able to stand.”

The transportation problem is also expected to affect slaughter operations in Canada, according to Scannell, who added the commission is close to imposing a “six-month” rule for Canada.

“So, in both cases, this will make it a lot more difficult — impossible in the case of Mexico, difficult in the case of Canada — to continue importing horses from the United States for subsequent export of horse meat to the European Union,” Scannell said.

So as you can see, American equine advocates truly do have something to celebrate this holiday season and we can look forward to the new year with vigor and anticipation as we push towards resolution the outstanding issues which still plague our American horses, both domestic and wild.

By “keeping the faith” we are trotting into a new era for our horses and donkeys…keep up the great works and take a moment to bask in the afterglow of these two great victories.

Thanks to all who work so hard for those who cannot speak for themselves.  You are very special, indeed.


28 replies »

  1. Thanks to the dedicated advocates of protecting our Wild Horses, there is a step forward, in preventing horses slaughter, etc. A huge thanks to the politicians, who do care about our Wild Horses, wildlife, for their support.
    Extra appreciation to R. T. & Terry….


  2. Thank you very much for the upbeat progress report, R.T.!

    I hate to rain on your parade, but I have to ask … when they say “horse meat” and “horse slaughter” does this include burros and mules? I hope hope hope it does?


  3. Great news all around!

    I’m curious to know more about this part of the article:

    “As a bonus the bill also contains a provision that would prohibit the Bureau of Land Management from euthanizing healthy wild horses in its care or from selling wild horses or burros that result in their being processed into commercial products”

    Does this mean that the BLM will now be held accountable for horses that are RESOLD into slaughter, as has happened in the past without any consequences? Does this provision have any teeth in it so if evidence arises this has happened penalties will be enforced? For example, in the case of those horses rounded up in WY and shipped to Canada the same day this summer, would that now lead to legal action?

    More info on this please!


    • Icy I’m not a lawyer but here’s what I think it means. If anyone has more info please chime in.

      We know many horses have gone rendering in Reno. Maybe this is–you can’t ship to render and then get back money or by products. The government and its employees should never be allowed to benefit from such doings.

      When roundups happen we have it straight from the contractor’s lips that “same as, same same”. We also know from another advocate that they came across a huge pit of dead horses. One doesn’t have to think to hard where those are coming from. And that there’s no accounting for them.

      If those horses in turn are sent to render ABSOLUTELY NO ONE should benefit.

      As I said I’m not a lawyer but I think there’s been a lot of nefarious doings behind the scenes.


    • And Icy 4 foals were rescued off the truck with the WY 41. The lady that works (owns?)the auction stood up and said NO. If it wasn’t for her we wouldn’t have the Dry Creek Quartet. They live with Dr. Lisa who has taken marvelous care of them.

      And 14 managed to get to safety before that final trip.

      That WHOLE thing just infuriates me.

      So 18 horses were saved but they NEVER should’ve been put in jeopardy in the first place.


      • Margaret, agreed! I’m not following your “same as, same same” comment though, and the pit of dead horses, were those identifiable as wild horses?

        However, (I don’t recall the exact number just now) at least some of those horses were sold the same day, and somebody was paid to haul them, and somebody cashed the check when they were sold. As we know, the BLM already is forbidden to sell any horses/burros directly to slaughter; this new provision may just be reiterating that but it sounds like it might be something stronger, with penalties involved. That is what prompted my question – is this something new or just a rephrasing of the existing laws? If it’s a stronger new law, then terrific!


  4. Ive attempted to post these updates and share articles repeatedly regarding these great changes and other deterimental issues however someones been removing these posts. It seems that when proslaughter doesnt like the truth to be spread they do vain attempts at stopping it from leaking out!. I love this update RT we Will NOT stop fighting Slaughter! We will Never relent! Now once again we are rolling up on New Years Eve and I asked last year that everyone do an improptu lighting of candles for luck for the horses for the New Year. Rememberance of those lost and to Light the way for the Souls we are Destined to save from Slaughter. So If you will join us on New Years Eve for the 2nd year in a Row kicking off the New Year….lighting candles for the Equine of the World and send a light to those we have all loved who have passed to Greener heavenly pastures. Thank you!


  5. ” What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the Life we lead” -Nelson Mandela-
    Even though our hearts get broken, our gut gets wrenched, our temper flares, we know the truth so we keep going.
    My heart skips a little and my spirit sings for joy, we are making a difference.


  6. From what I understand the EU is going to stop all horse meat from the South American countries as well as Mexico for the same reasons. Also there are horse slaughter plants in Canada that are now only slaughtering cattle, no horses, I believe this is because all of them think the EU will stop them shipping horse meat so thinking of their bottom lines they shut it down themselves. Also the 6 month rule I doubt will work either because if the horses have to be fed for 6 months and their weight kept up and treat any ailments they might turn up with its not good business as far as making money. The slaughter plants will lose money unless the companies that are ordering the meat decide to pay the slaughter plants more for the horse meat than they did before which I doubt they will do. And If the EU decides to pull the plug on the Canadian slaughter plants anytime within that 6 month period thinking they can dry out the horses given Bute and other drugs they might change their mind if they don’t think its going to work. That will leave the slaughter plants stuck with the cost of feeding the horses all that time which means no profit. Keep in mind these slaughter plants are a business that is geared to make money.


    • Barbara, some of the plants in Canada are raising horses specifically for slaughter, so the 6 month rule probably won’t matter one bit to their operations. Sadly, the EU closures in Mexico might even boost their business unless the EU prohibits all horse meat imports, regardless of source or drug free periods.


      • Icy Spots
        What the EU was looking at from what I read is the fact of of the cruelty that was going on in the hauling of the horses and their treatment. Its the same mind set of killer buyers hauling horses to Canada or Mexico the same cruelty is going on with hauling horses to both countries. I’m wondering why the EU didn’t pull the plug on Canada like they did Mexico? This seems fishy to me because when the killer buyers that was going to Mexico start heading to Canada with their loads of horses the inspectors at the Canadian border will see dead and injured horses just like the inspectors at the Mexican border did. I know that the plant that ships horses by air to Japan does raise the horses for slaughter. These horses in the pens at this place have no shelter in the winter at all and the pens are junky and nasty from the photos I have seen with no place at all for the animals to lay down except in the mud.
        There probably is not much anyone can do except hope for the best, Canadian Horse Defense is where I got the information about some of the plants having changed to slaughtering cattle.


    Complaint Demands Restoration of Data Quantifying and Qualifying Grazing Effects
    Posted on Dec 22, 2014

    The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has removed key data from a statutorily mandated report measuring how well vast federal rangelands are protected from damaging overgrazing, according to an administrative complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The group is pressing BLM to restore data contained in previous annual reports tracking whether overgrazing or other factors are degrading the condition of 150 million acres of federal rangelands across a 13-state area covering most of the West.

    The BLM’s 2013 Rangeland Inventory, Monitoring, and Evaluation (RIME) report, released on November 4, 2014, differs substantially from previous reports by removing the following data:

    The number and land area of grazing allotments meeting and failing rangeland health standards;
    Information distinguishing between failures of the standards due to livestock and other causes; and
    Whether land conditions are improving or declining or whether BLM is taking any management steps to restore degraded rangeland.

    PEER today filed a complaint under the Data Quality Act which requires federal reports, especially those statistical in nature, to be complete, unbiased and of the highest accuracy and utility. The complaint demands that BLM retract the 2013 RIME report and reissue it with the full scope of data. Under its rules BLM has 60 days to comply or to reject the complaint, in which case PEER can appeal that denial.
    “By law, BLM cannot seek to reduce the sum total of human knowledge,” added Stade, noting that BLM is playing statistical games to mask deteriorating range conditions, which is addressed in another part of the PEER complaint. “Last year, BLM claimed that it could not track grazing impacts due, incredibly enough, to insufficient data. This year it is trying to bury the data it claimed not to possess.”


  8. I am sitting here, in front of the computer, attempting to come up with a ‘Feel Good Sunday’ story that will help in recharging our batteries and lighten our spirits for another week of being the voice for those who are voiceless AND I cannot top this story and this news with anything that even comes close to being uplifting. This info stands for Sunday…thanks for all that all of you do, you are very special lights in the fabric of the universe and I am blessed by knowing you. Happy Holidays!


    • A Huge Thank You RT. The only thing that can top this story is the Full Return of the Wild Mustangs to the Place where they have always belonged and that is THE RANGE Running FREE…..Protected and Preserved by the LAW !!!!! This is the goal of 2015. as it was deemed unamimously by the Congress of 1971………………….and as it will be again !!!!! Through the Perservierence dedication ,and devotion taught to us by the very Wild Mustangs we defend so wholeheartedly………………………………………….


  9. I have been off line for the past two days trying to create brochures, write an article, and prepare a grant proposal. TMR is closing out its 2014 books for accounting, so we are busy. I just wanted to check in to see if there was any urgent e-mail I needed to attend to and here was this story. Merry Christmas and happy New Year, R. T. and Terry. I hope this includes language that protects long ears too.


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