Letter to the editor: Oregon State University should focus more on ways to benefit lives of horses

written by Charlotte Roe and published on OSU’s Daily Barometer

“Livestock outnumber wild horses and burros by at least 37 to 1 on federal lands.”

I am saddened that OSU, a pioneer in environmental sciences, would become involved in unethical, highly controversial experiments on protected wild horses. This issue has already brought unfavorable publicity to a great University. We can all do better.

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Daily Barometer’s April 18 article on Wild Horse Sterilization Research stated that “BLM first contacted OSU and the School of Veterinary Medicine and asked them to examine three potential sterilization methods as a third party researcher and determine which one is the most safe and effective, according to VP Clark.” BLM cannot pre-pick its research partners. OSU competed for and won a grant of its own design to participate in these experiments.

The proposed sterilization experiments would be performed on 225 wild mares and young fillies in a non-sterile outdoor pen without pre-operative or post-operative standard care . Invasive and highly risky surgeries using “inferior” veterinary methodologies would be performed on these already highly stressed animals. Many will die, according to the BLM’s own estimates. The subjects of these brutish experiments, if they survive, would no longer be wild by nature.

The experiments violate the guidelines of AAALAC, which accredits OSU’s animal research activities. They would also violate the law. The Bureau of Land Management has no statutory authority to conduct invasive experimentation on protected wild horses.

Assistant Professor Dawn Sherwood asserted that wild horses are overpopulating, ruining the range and competing with other species. This is an old canard. Wild mustangs have long been accused of ruining the rangelands by commercial interests that treat federal lands as their private domain. Yet BLM statistics count 47,329 wild horses on federal lands totaling 31.6 million acres in 2015. On average, that amounts to 667.6 acres per horse — hardly an overpopulation. Dr. Gus Cothran, the leading U.S. specialist on equine genetics, maintains that the majority of BLM-managed wild horse herd areas are far below the population levels required for genetic viability.

Livestock outnumber wild horses and burros by at least 37 to 1 on federal lands. Cattle typically congregate around water holes; predator-wary wild horses drink and move on. Cattle and sheep, having no upper teeth, use their palates to rip the grass and often uproot forage. Equines’ teeth clip the grass down. Unlike cattle, horses do not digest grass seeds but distribute them like “seed farmers.” They coexist with livestock and with many wild species.

The Administration maintains that by simply observing and evaluating the proposed experiments, OSU will distance itself from the outcomes. Yet by enabling research that abuses protected animals, the University’s good name and the credibility of its students will be badly compromised.

There’s time for a reset: reject this bogus research, and instead examine ways to better the lives of wild horses and burros through humane management practices by perfecting reversible methods of fertility control and by improving the range ecology for all species.

Sincerely,

Charlotte Roe

http://m.orangemedianetwork.com/daily_barometer/letter-to-the-editor-oregon-state-university-should-focus-more/article_bae9973c-0da6-11e6-a673-03802c1dd20e.html?mode=jqm

Jail Sentence Expected to Buoy Horse Slaughter Fight

By as published on Off Track Thoroughbreds

“Way to go ‘Kudo”, keep up the good fight, we love ya man!” ~ R.T.

“This is the first time in the history of the state (Florida) that … a person has been sentenced to prison for torturing animals,”

Richard Couto, founder of the Animal Recovery Mission, helped convict a Florida man to a 1-year jail term for animal cruelty this week. Couto spent six months gathering evidence to help bring the conviction.

Richard Couto, founder of the Animal Recovery Mission, helped convict a Florida man to a 1-year jail term for animal cruelty this week. Couto spent six months gathering evidence to help bring the conviction.

An animal advocacy group seeking to shut down illegal horse slaughterhouses and other illegal butcheries received a shot in the arm this week when a Florida rancher, targeted in an undercover sting, was sentenced to a year in jail.

Following the sentencing of Jorge Luis Garcia, 48, of Ranchos Garcia Farm to a year behind bars without possibility of probation, animal-rights activist Richard “Kudo” Couto declared the sentence a “groundbreaking” decision, one that should help other prosecution efforts of illegal slaughterhouses.

“We’ve investigated 137 cases, but this is the first one involving the treatment of farm animals that has gone to trial,” says Couto, founder and president of the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM). Prior to Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer’s sentencing of Garcia to 364 days in a county jail on Tuesday, the Animal Recovery Mission had yet to have one of its cases result in this stiff a sentence, Couto says.

“This is the first time in the history of the state that … a person has been sentenced to prison for torturing animals,” Couto says, noting that Garcia was charged with two misdemeanor counts of torturing goats to death.

The sentencing came months after Couto and other ARM investigators investigated the 4-acre farm in Loxahatchee, which borders the fabled Wellington show grounds.

In October, local and national law enforcement agents who acted on the evidence amassed by Couto and ARM investigators shut down Rancho Garcia Farm in a large-scale sting. Rancho Garcia, along with the G.A. Paso Fino and Medina farms, was shut down, and arrests were made. Please see an earlier article: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2015/10/16/cuoto-illegal-butchers-killed-show-horses-too/.

Although Couto suspected horses were slaughtered on the farm, and law enforcement recovered horsemeat from farm freezers, no remains of horses were found. And this particular case centered on the treatment of livestock instead, he says.

Noting that he was both surprised and thrilled by the sentence, Couto says the decision establishes case law, which can be used going forward to prosecute other slaughterhouses. “We have several investigations going on right now, and when we conclude them, we’ll use this sentence to show prosecutors that cases against animals can result in jail time,” he says.

Couto is a retired real estate agent who devoted his life, beginning in 2008, to saving horses and investigating illegal slaughterhouses. While volunteering with the South Florida SPCA, Couto helped rescue off-track Thoroughbred Freedom’s Flight from the knife blade of a backyard butcher. The flashy chestnut was tethered tightly to a tree awaiting his death when he was rescued by the Miami-Dade Police. After that incident, Couto adopted the gelding and made it his mission to shut down slaughterhouses. Please see earlier story: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2015/04/08/liberated-from-illegal-butcher-a-horse-inspires-2/.

After documenting the activities taking place for years in backyard butchers and illegal slaughterhouses, Couto says the sentence this week renews his faith that slaughterhouses will eventually be shut down in Florida.

“Cases involving farm animals are usually overlooked,” Couto told the SunSentinel newspaper. “This is an extremely important case that will help us with our investigations moving forward.”

http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2016/04/28/jail-sentence-expected-to-buoy-slaughter-fight/