In the Race for the Presidency, America’s Horses Could be the Biggest Losers

by Susan Wagner, President & Founder, Equine Advocates

“Both major Presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have announced some disturbing appointments…”

All of the progress that has been made since the last horse slaughterhouse operating in the U.S. closed in 2007 is in danger of being reversed. This is why we are now urgently and respectfully calling on President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to end horse slaughter before they leave office with a special action, i.e. an executive order or a federal policy change that would accomplish that goal. We are asking you to “sign our petition” in order to reach them and have your voices heard.

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Both major Presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have announced some disturbing appointments. Secretary Clinton has had an excellent voting record on animal issues over the years and is on the record as opposing horse slaughter which is why her choice of former Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar to head her Transition Team is mystifying. Salazar is ranked by many as one of the worst Interior Secretaries in American History (along with Albert Fall, James Watt and Gail Norton). He was a huge proponent of horse slaughter long before he was appointed to that post in 2009. In 2013, he resigned as Interior Secretary under questionable circumstances. It was revealed that under Salazar’s watch, Tom Davis, a known horse dealer and rancher, bought 1,794 Wild BLM Mustangs for just $10 apiece and sold them for slaughter in Mexico. We believe having Ken Salazar in any position of power would be a continued threat to the safety and protection of America’s wild and domestic equines. Please read this article that appeared in the Washington Times:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/24/blm-illegally-sold-thousands-wild-horses-slaughter/

In addition, Salazar’s agenda to “industrialize” the West and America’s Public Lands amplifies the threat to America’s remaining wild horse and burro herds. We believe the damage he did while he was in office continues to have detrimental and dangerous effects on the wildlife and the land. We implore Secretary Clinton to please reconsider her appointment of Ken Salazar to her administration if she wins the election.

Donald Trump has no voting record as he has never held office before. However, his choice of proposed individuals to serve on his “Agricultural Advisory Committee,” if elected, reads like a  Who’s Who of horse slaughter supporters.  The list is so disturbing that there would be no doubt that the return of horse slaughter to the U.S. would just be a matter of time. It includes:

  • Forrest Lucas, oilman (Lucas Oil) and rancher – His political action committee (PAC), Protect the Harvest is, in our opinion, the most dangerous anti-horse/anti-animal/pro-puppy mill PAC in the nation. He said of his PAC, “…we’re out here organized…” and “…we need to get horse slaughter back.” Lucas was also named to Trump’s short list for Interior Secretary which would be a complete disaster for this country:

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/forrest-lucas-trump-interior-secretary-228364

  • Mary Fallin, Governor of Oklahoma had signed a bill to legalize horse slaughter in her state.
  • Bob Goodlatte, Congressman from Virginia and former chair of the House Agriculture Committee, has been a major force in blocking legislation to ban horse slaughter for years and a supporter in bringing it back to the U.S.

For a complete list of Trump’s proposed Agricultural Advisory Committee members, click here:
https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/trump-campaign-announces-agricultural-advisory-committee

In addition, Trump has former Georgia Congressman, Jack Kingston as one of his advisers and also as a media spokesperson. Kingston was a member of the infamous 2011 Congressional Conference Committee that voted 3-1 (along with Senator Ray Blunt and former Senator Herb Kohl) to return horse slaughter to the U.S. They based their votes on the special interest-driven Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report #11-228 on Horse Slaughter. John Holland, President of the Equine Welfare Alliance successfully proved that the GAO Report was, in fact, fraudulent:

http://www.equinewelfarealliance.org/uploads/How_the_GAO_Deceived_Congress-final.pdf

Clearly, most Americans want to see an end to horse slaughter, but these candidates have selected individuals who we believe, if given the opportunity, would move to slaughter horses with no regard or consideration for the will of the vast majority of Americans on this issue.

The dangerous agendas of some lawmakers to quickly rebuild horse slaughterhouses in this country to satisfy special interests in the horse and ranching industries is a real threat. This goes hand-in-hand with how the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is now operating. At the most recent BLM Advisory Board Meeting, the the majority of its members voted to exterminate the 44,000 captured Wild Horses and Burros being held in long-term holding facilities. As outrageous and horrific as this sounds, we need to keep in mind that the Advisory Board has no power in the final decision. However, it is also probable that their votes reflect the desired agenda of the BLM with respect to these horses.

John Holland, President of the Equine Welfare Alliance said, “We believed right from the beginning that the use of all that stimulus money to gather so many horses was the BLM intentionally creating a crisis so they could force this decision later!”

Update: The news of how this Advisory Board voted sparked a tremendous public outcry and as a result, the BLM has since decided not to follow the advice of the majority of its members and will not kill these 44,000 wild equines. It should be noted that the one lone vote on the BLM Advisory Board against killing them was Ginger Kathrens, the Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation.

Unless we move forward and truly bring an end to horse slaughter, it is likely to return to our soil. The vast majority of Americans want it banned just as they also want our wild horse and burro herds preserved, protected and humanely managed.

Many horse advocates are supporting the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, better known as The S.A.F.E. Act (S1214/H.R. 1942). This bill needs to be amended before we can support it. There are no effective enforcement provisions in it.

The S.A.F.E. Act, if it becomes law, could easily be circumvented based on some of the language in it including the phrase, “…the knowing sale or transport of equines…” Killer buyers and those sending equines to slaughter are unlikely to admit their true intentions. Why give them an out if they get caught to say that they did not know? We would like to know who wrote this bill and why they chose to write it this way. Decide for yourself. Here is the language for The S.A.F.E. Act:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1942/text?resultIndex=1

We actually have all the ammunition we need to win the horse slaughter war.  A ground-breaking study published in Elsevier in 2010 clearly documented the dangerous health risks for people who eat the meat of horses that have been treated with the common drug, Phenylbutazone (or “Bute,” for short). This is proof that all of us can present to our lawmakers and the media as strong arguments to stop the return of horse slaughter to the U.S. Bute was important to use in this study because unlike some other drugs, it never leaves the body of the animal. Bute puts those consuming it at risk for a variety of cancers and blood diseases.

It is important to note that Bute is just one among numerous injectable, oral and topical drugs given to equines that has the disclaimer on the packaging, “Not intended for horses bred for human consumption.

NO EQUINE is bred for human consumption in this country!

Here is a link to that important landmark study:

http://www.equinewelfarealliance.org/uploads/Food_and_Chemical_Toxicology_FINAL.pdf

Further evidence is documented in the hundreds of articles and lawsuits that resulted from the shocking Horse Meat Food Fraud Scandal that gripped Europe in 2013 and now appears to be a threat once again. In addition, there is the 2015 Chapman University Study (also published by Elsevier) proving the unsavory discovery of horse meat and additional meats other than beef present in some chopped meat products in the American food supply. Given the lack of DNA species testing in this country, the presence of horse meat in our food supply may be more prevalent than believed.

Here is a link to the 2015 Chapman University Study:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713514004666

In December of 2014, the European Union (EU) banned the import of horse meat products from Mexico because most of the equines slaughtered there came from the U.S. and therefore are not safe for human consumption. (NOTE: The same U.S.-bred equines make up the majority of equines slaughtered in Canada for export to Europe and Japan, but inexplicably no such ban was placed on horse meat from Canada by the EU.) However, investigations indicate that there has been little to no decrease in the number of U.S.-bred equines being slaughtered in Mexico since the European ban took effect in January of 2015.

Where is all of this horse meat ending up if it’s not going to Europe or other identified markets? Investigators believe that some horse meat from Mexico is making its way into the American food supply. Food fraud is rampant all over the world. This country is not exempt.

Why is the slaughter of America’s equines tolerated? Ultimately, we are talking about morals and ethics. Horse slaughter is primarily used by special interests as a garbage disposal for those too greedy, callous and indifferent to take responsibility for the equines under their care.  How can we justify sending tens of thousands of equines across our borders into Mexico and Canada every year for people in other countries to eat knowing their meat is unfit for human consumption? The answer is simple:  There is no justification!

One reason I haven’t mentioned the extreme cruelty involved in horse slaughter is because of some sage comments made by philanthropist and horsewoman, Victoria McCullough, whom we honored in 2014:

“I believe that science is what will win for horses on the Hill – not cruelty. We’re inundated and desensitized to it. Cruelty is running over America – in our children, in our animals, in our education system – We are not accountable! But I learned that in order to win with the government it has to be intellectual and scientific.  I have to leave my emotions behind completely. I can’t take them with me. But they live with me every day.”

Thanks to Victoria’s efforts, Vice President Joe Biden attached language to the $1.1 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 which President Obama signed into law to continue the defunding of horse meat inspectors in the U.S.

“We cannot win the border closure without defund because it’s a pyramid,” she said. “You have to defund horse slaughter in the U.S. first in order to have legality. There’s an issue. What are we really slaughtering and for whom? The arrogance and the lack of accountability are outrageous. And the liability does not disappear.”

Here is more information about the importance of what Vice President Biden accomplished for America’s horses in 2014:

http://www.columbiagreenemedia.com/chatham_courier/news/article_8aebadfe-5189-55c9-a2ba-5ab7c24c968e.html

We believe a remedy exists which would not involve a bill that needs to be passed or Congressional approval. Human Health and Food Safety, as outlined in this piece, are key to a federal ban.

Since both President Obama and Vice President Biden are acutely aware of all the dangers and risks associated with slaughtering horses for food, not to mention the liability factor, it could be a really wonderful and important part of the Obama/Biden legacy to end this unspeakable and un-American practice through a special action to ban horse slaughter and remove equines from the food chain.

Consequently, we need to start respectfully and earnestly imploring President Obama and Vice President Biden to take action before they leave office. Let them know how dire this situation truly is and how years of progress will evaporate if something is not done immediately. They know how most Americans feel about this. They saw the tremendous outcry against killing those 44,000 wild BLM horses and burros. We look to them to save America’s wild and domestic equines from slaughter!

As they say, there is strength in numbers, so please start by taking the time to sign our petition which is an appeal to be sent to both President Obama and Vice President Biden asking them to take action to ban horse slaughter before they leave office. To sign the petition, please see the list of What You Can Do below this article. (Note: Please also take the time to send a hand-written letter to each of them. Their mailing addresses are also provided below.)

If Obama and Biden do not act before the end of their administration, the fate of our horses will be placed in the hands of the next president. Now is the time for all of us to act. It is urgent that we act.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Please sign our petition appealing to both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to take action in banning horse slaughter entirely – both in the U.S., as well as stopping the transport of live equines from the U.S. across our borders into Mexico and Canada for slaughter or to any other country for that purpose. Please be sure to forward the petition and share it far and wide. We need a big and enthusiastic response in order for it to make a difference. We need to gather 100,000 signatures by Election Day to present to them. That number of signatures would ensure that both the President and V.P. would see the petition.
  • Please write a handwritten letter to both President Obama and Vice President Biden asking them to take steps to ban horse slaughter before they leave office. You have plenty of ammunition to use in the way of scientific studies, documentation and good arguments as provided in this article. Please use them, in addition to more abundant data now readily available online to back up any other points you wish to make. Please address separate letters to the President and V.P. Mail your letters to them in care of:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500


This is a shot that is well worth taking. We owe it to our horses to try.

Together we can make a difference!

Thank you!

Susan Wagner, President
Equine Advocates
http://www.equineadvocates.org

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