Horse News

Judge blocks slaughter of horse named ‘Lady’ ensnared in roundup, but horse’s fate unknown

by , Reno Gazette Journal

Residents of Nevada’s Palomino Valley who lost horses and burros during a multi-day roundup coordinated by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe filed suit in federal court Wednesday to order the animals returned.

Workers use a helicopter and motorcycle to herd horses in Palomino Valley. Horse advocates say the roundup by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe wrongly trespassed on tribal land and wasn’t properly noticed. (Photo: Maureen Daane/Contributed to RGJ)

A horse named ‘Lady,’ thought to be ensnared during a roundup should be saved from slaughter, a federal judge in Reno ruled on Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge Miranda Du authorized a temporary restraining order that directed defendants in a lawsuit by wild horse advocates to refrain from slaughtering the horse, which belongs to Sparks resident Colleen Westlake.

“This order will issue without notice because time is of the essence – Defendants plan to slaughter or take to slaughter Plaintiff’s horse Lady in the immediate future,” Du wrote.

But Westlake fears it may be too late and Lady may have already been shipped off.

“Maybe this will make them give her to me,” Westlake said. “I pray they have her somewhere … I don’t know.”

Residents of Nevada’s Palomino Valley who lost horses and burros during a multi-day roundup coordinated by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe filed suit in federal court Wednesday to order the animals returned.

In their complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Reno, residents say the roundup wrongly swept privately owned animals from private property.

Some of the animals, two burros, were turned loose when roundup workers learned they were privately owned. But the burros are now loose on the range.

Another animal, Lady, still hasn’t been returned to the woman who adopted her through the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Westlake fears Lady is being shipped off for slaughter.

“I just want my horse back,” Westlake wrote in a declaration filed with the complaint. “I love my horse, she means everything to me. No amount of money could replace Lady, and I would be devastated if she were slaughtered.”

In a separate declaration Thomas Baker, owner of the burros, said on consecutive days workers trespassed on his private property and, in one instance, used a helicopter to herd his animals away.

“My burros were herded along with the horses until another neighbor informed tribal members that those burros were owned by me and told them they had better let them go,” Baker wrote in his declaration. “They were cut loose and have been wandering around the valley since that time.”

The roundup began Jan. 4 and lasted several days. Officials from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, which owns land on the other side of the Pah Rah Range from Palomino Valley, said the roundup was part of a broader plan to restore the range on the tribe’s reservation which has been devastated by fire in recent years.

The tribe owns horses that roam freely on and off the reservation that officials say the range can no longer sustainably support.

While tribal officials declined comment on the lawsuit, they say the roundup was legal and necessary.

“We are just following through with this management plan to protect the natural resources,” Vice Chairman Alan Mandell said.

“We weren’t stealing anything, we were just recovering property, that’s all,” said Tribal Councilman John Gurrero.

But the lawsuit by Westlake and American Wild Horse Campaign claims otherwise.

The plaintiffs argue that workers from the tribe and Cattoor Livestock Roundup of Nephi, Utah, a private contractor, trespassed on private property took horses without proper authorization.

The lawsuit also identifies as defendants the Nevada Department of Agriculture, ag department officials Chris Miller and Doug Farris, and Zena Quillan of Churchill County, who the complaint says contracted to purchase the horses from roundup.

The suit seeks the return of the animals plus damages for the loss of Lady, which are “incapable of being measured,” and “general damages for pain and suffering for the loss of her beloved animal and the anxiety and worry it has caused; and damages for Nevada citizens for destruction of feral horse groups that have been on this property for years and upon which citizens enjoy viewing, studying and photographing these wild horses.”

In the lawsuit advocates say ownership of the horses was wrongly attributed to the tribe and that the animals were actually feral livestock.

As such, residents should have been notified in advance of the proposed roundup and had a chance to claim the horses.

The suit also alleges Farris, Miller and the Department of Agriculture failed in their duty to conduct a proper brand inspection of all the horses rounded up to verify ownership.

Sue Cattoor of Cattoor Wild Horse Roundups and officials from the Nevada Department of Agriculture declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The RGJ could not reach Quillan.

18 replies »

  1. These round ups are wrong on every level. The wild mustangs are part of your heritage and were around long before you came interfering. Cattle farmers and greed are what have taken over. Using a helicopter is appalling, running these animals to the point of exhaustion. Shame on you.


  2. CRITICAL CORRECTION to the RGJ story. Documents turned over to AWHC showed that the horses actually went to Dennis Chavez in Las Lunas, NM, not Quillan. (I’m looking at the brand inspection certificate right now.) I’m not a fan of Quillan but the record needs to be accurate.

    The underlying issues here are that local property owners will attest that the tribe DENIED ownership of the horses when they trespassed on private lands. Then property owners reported tribal members trespassing on private lands to chase these same horses that the tribe denied owning back onto tribal property for a roundup. Those activities also resulted in privately owned animals getting loose from their pastures in the chaos..

    Instead of being returned to their owners after being run through fences, some branded animals (i.e., the burros) were just kicked loose, are out somewhere on the range and have yet to be recovered.

    The animals that the tribe drove off of people’s private properties had no brands or identification showing that they actually belonged to the tribe, and this was NOT a case of tribal members following their stock off tribal lands. These horses had habituated off tribal property for years. Under NRS 569.010 they legally then are property of the Nevada Department of Agriculture until their ownership can be proven by :”legal title,” for which in this case there is none.

    NRS 569.040 makes it illegal to feed or take up estrays or feral livestock.

    NRS 569.045 stipulates that if an owner intends to gather his/her own stray livestock outside the animals’ officially permitted grazing areas, they must publish notice at least once a week for at least four weeks describing the gather, its location, date and time, and also publish where owners of missing livestock can inspect the animals gathered in order to reclaim their property.

    Absconding with range horses and retaining possession (which includes sale or transfer) is defined as grand larceny in Nevada. However the Nevada Department of Agriculture not only signed-off on this load that combined legitimate tribal horses with estrays (state property) and privately owned horses, but they followed up by threatening some of the residents who lodged complaints.

    It’s time for the Sisolak administration to clean house.


    • This is heartbreaking… Dennis Chavez is the bloody criminal killbuyer- owner of Southwest slaughter horse ‘feedlots’ in Los Lunas, NM.
      He has been investigated for horrible abuses and hauled into court but always manages to get off with little retribution. This ‘man’ is notorious and in collusion with people like Tom Davis of Colorado, who shipped over 250 wild horses to the Chavez monster’s lots in Los Luna’s FROM the BLM in the not too distant past.
      No surprise that the Cattoors are involved in this latest unimaginable horror.
      The wild ones along with many other lost ones are probably already gone across the border, but it could be worth following up to see….. it would have to be asap.

      Liked by 1 person

      • For WHFF, the law firm in Nevada, and all involved in seeing justice done on this:

        Please contact Michelle Lujan Grisham / New Mexico Governor

        @ office of the Governor/ 505-476-2200/ Santa Fe, NM

        Ms. Lujan Grisham is very anti-horse slaughter and was a co-author of HR-113/SAFE ACT (to
        prohibit the transport of all American equines across borders for slaughter for human consumption)

        I know that she would be very interested in this case that is linked with the notorius Chavez! The local Sheriff and the Border Patrol will do nothing, and could be all twisted up with Chavez also. ?

        (Yes, I’m losing sleep over this too.:((


    • BLM contractors unpaid, but animals are fine — for now
      Scott Streater, E&E News reporter

      Greenwire: Thursday, January 17, 2019

      J.R. Simplot Co., the large agribusiness firm based in Boise, Idaho, oversees about 1,600 federally protected wild horses in a holding facility on about 100 acres of company-owned land in Bruneau, in southwest Idaho.

      “We did not see a payment [from BLM] in December,” said Josh Jordan, a spokesman for J.R. Simplot.


  3. Please watch this TED talk by Allan Savory on mistakes made in Africa when they removed massive numbers of elephants and other grazing animals from the wilderness and found that the land suffered more. He personally ordered 40,000 elephants to be killed only to find that the desertification became worse rather than better. He found that the dense population of herds of animals moving through grass lands, overgrazing, trampling and evacuating on the land returns it to a fertile habitat with appropriate runoff. He shows compelling evidence of his theory. This will make you question what we are doing in the management of public lands more that you already are. I hope some of the people here can take this information and spread it.


    • Savory’s work is well known, and well trialed, but it has its critics, mostly that it is difficult to scale down, and can’t be a “one size fits all” prescription for grasslands, especially in the American West according to some critics.

      History shows us our American grasslands provided American settlers to take hold, but at great cost to natural resilience, and much of what is happening today is the result of thresholds crossed long ago that cannot be rewound.

      I find Savory particularly compelling because he was a trained ecologist who thought what he was doing was correct (as did the many others he consulted) but he had the courage to change his mind and his actions in the light of results his own handiwork provided. He has said many times killing all those elephants (which was then the “right” thing to do per the experts) is his most painful lifelong regret.

      We can all benefit from his courage and wisdom.


  4. This is so wrong on many levels! The Government and BLM Should leave the wild horses and burros alone. And screw the welfare ranchers. They all have blood on their hands.


    • OK, so everyone is on the same page here, this is NOT a BLM issue. It involves horses that may have well originally at one time been Pyramid Paiute horses that took up residence on private lands over many months, even years. As such, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Cattoor was contracted by the tribe to conduct the roundup and when they learned what was really happening from discussions with Maureen Daane, they quit the job. Good on them for that.

      In Nevada you have the right to track your livestock that gets loose or recover your branded livestock out on the open range, but you don’t have the right to go out after unbranded horses scattered over private lands, then trespass onto those private lands, chase the horses onto your own property (in this case tribal property,) and then claim that the horses are now your property without any documentation to that effect.

      My personal weapon in this case is that the Department of Agriculture (and I have to say “allegedly”) acted illegally in allowing these horses to pass brand inspections after the department was aware that there were issues involving ownership, and that under the law the horses were state property and could not legally be cleared for shipment until proper evidence of ownership was produced or the procedures required under NRS 569.075 were followed. There is nothing in the law that permits a brand inspector to just decide that a bunch animals taken up on multiple private properties belong to someone without being provided some degree of evidence. The laws were written to prevent just this kind of fiasco. If the horses had all been on tribal lands, that would have been a different issue. In this case they were chased off private lands by (alleged) trespassers on motor vehicles which raises a host of legal issues that Judge Miranda Du rightfully considered.

      This particular high ranking brand inspector has a checkered history. Last year he signed one of my organization’s horses to a private party without authorization and we had to get an attorney to get the horse back. Time to do some serous housecleaning over at the NV Dept, of Agriculture.


      • Wildhorseguy… the Catoors recognize a deep hole when they see one apparently. “Good on them”-???
        They do not want to lose those million+ big $ contracts with the feds of course because of the lack of proper protocol on the part of the Paiute tribe. They certainly do not want a bright light on their own sadistic enterprise through a legal investigation.
        What people do not realize is what an immense and convoluted network the “slaughter for big $$$ profit” actually is, and there are many players in this horrific scam.
        One horse is worth $700. to $800. per weight at 1500 lb.s… so multiply that per hundreds. See what I mean? This is what all these scum are all over our wild horses for, and have no scruples whatsoever… they would throw their own mothers in that stock trailer bound for a murderous filthy slaughter in Mexico for that kind of dinero, believe it.
        I have sincere empathy and hope that Ms. Westlake and the others involved can track their loved ones through this maze of corruption, and encourage them to not give up! This kind of thing has happened too many times in the past, and the litigation could set a formal precedent as well.
        It is very important to expose these criminal kill buyers, and call out this secretive network that is capitalizing so greatly on the suffering of our beloved horses, each and every one.


      • Point of clarification: are you saying Catoor’s quit the job, or the tribe did? Who actually ended up doing the roundup work, where did they take these animals, then who shipped them (and to where) from there. Or are they still in holding somewhere?


  5. The Catoors are literally a crime family. I would relish their demise and would love to see them go down in flames for all the cruelty and suffering they have inflicted on our wild horses and burros for years and years. And being paid millions to do it!
    Would that someone, somehow could bring about a major suit and take them to task!!! The only thing they should be ’rounding up’ is tumbleweeds.


  6. Whistleblower lawsuit against Mantech could be the first of its kind

    A recently unsealed lawsuit against Mantech, a large government contractor, shows the potential of the False Claims Act to enforce employment protections designed to prevent modern-day indentured servitude.

    The “qui tam” (whistleblower lawsuit) was filed by five mechanics who were employed by Mantech in Kuwait.


  7. Thanks for this info LC…
    The way these creeps (Cattoors) represent themselves as a ‘humane and efficient’ bunch of kindly ol’ cowboys and expert helicopter pilots couldn’t be further from the unholy truth. Running horses and burros to fatal injuries, hitting them with runner blades, kicking them to death,babies with broken legs and mares aborting while being run to death,taking horses illegally from private property,transporting to kill buyers (who probably are in cahoots…big $$$), and it goes on….SICK!
    Think there is a special place in the lowest hell…..?


  8. Icyspots… It was stated that some of the horses and burros were wrangled by helicopter, so the Cattoors were on the job and obviously quit when they smelled legal trouble. And the lowest scum of the earth Dennis Chavez was reportedly waiting with stock trailers to load ’em up right there to abscound to his Los Lunas,New Mexico slaughter horse ‘feedlots’. Sooo, it was all lined up… it will be a miracle if they are found intact. “No evidence, no accountability.”


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