Hundreds of Caribbean Horses in Peril after Multiple Hurricanes

Source: Thoroughbred Daily News

“Regardless of our views on horse racing we cannot turn a blind eye on these equines at risk, it is our calling!” ~ R.T.


In Saturday’s TDN we reported on the situation at Camarero Racetrack due to Hurricane Maria (click here to view the story). Shelley Blodgett, founder of the Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare Inc., wrote the following response to the TDN to further explain the severity of the situation and ask for help from the industry. Blodgett also sent all of the photos and graphics included.

I am Shelley Blodgett, co-founder of Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare Inc, a non-profit (501c3) that helps Thoroughbreds racing in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. I think there is a story that needs to get out.

There are 864 U.S. Thoroughbreds (all Jockey Club registered) stabled at Hipodromo Camarero Racetrack in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico. The racetrack, including the barns, was heavily damaged during Hurricane Maria. Further, the horses cannot leave their stalls due to debris, downed fencing and flooding. They are standing in water, and there is NO clean water or hay. I was told that they are giving them some grain (presumably without water). No horses died during the storm, but some needed stitches and such.

I learned this from a brief phone call from CTA co-founder, Kelley Stobie (the call was disconnected). She is at the track seven days a week, working as an equine therapist. She toured the track and spoke with the backstretch supervisor, some owners, trainer and vets. She told me the situation is dire and there is no way to get needed water, hay and medical supplies right now.

There is more to the story, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I’ve attached some photos I managed to get from the La Escuelita Hípica (the Jockey School at the track); they help with the track horses and posted this and have commented on the situation. Kelley also has photos, but cannot get them to me.

More than half of the Thoroughbreds in Puerto Rico were bred in the States. I have a line graph of numbers for both Puerto Rican-bred and U.S.-bred. There are some good horses there, including 2012 GI Belmont S. runner and 2013 Maxxam Gold Cup winner Unstoppable U, as well as Arch Traveler (who was also on the Triple Crown trail early in his career) and Becky’s Kitten. We gathered data and determined that 1,500 people have a stake in the racing industry in Puerto Rico (see pie chart). Thus, these horses are essential to the well being of many people in Puerto Rico.

I do not believe that there has been any formal request by the Puerto Rican government to help the horses at that time, but I have been working to rattle the bushes and get things moving. I have spoken with a veterinarian, who is an equine disaster response specialist and on the National Veterinary Response Team, but they cannot help until there is an official request to FEMA from the Puerto Rican government official. Also, I’ve spoken with the Secretary of Agriculture for U.S.V.I., Carlos Robles, but he has not been able to make contact with his counterpart in Puerto Rico, though I know he has sent him an email.

There are about 200 Thoroughbreds in St. Croix, including race horses and breeding farms, and there are 40 Thoroughbreds racing in St. Thomas and many OTTBs in rescue/aftercare as well. Mr. Robles is assessing the situation in U.S.V.I. and trying to initiate needed federal help down there. I have tried calling all of the CTA board members, which include a prominent breeder, an equine veterinarian and an attorney, but all cell service is out. Further, I’ve called the Racetrack Administrator, Jose Maymo, but his cell phone isn’t in service.

We really need the racing industry and other equine organizations in the States to help urgently as there is little time to waste. These horses survived the storm, but are facing dehydration, starvation and risk of secondary health issues (e.g., colic, infection) due to the environmental hazards and lack of basic needs. These are U.S. horses. They do their jobs faithfully as racehorses and deserve better. They support the livelihood of many in the islands. Thank You.

https://www.facebook.com/horserescue/

Zinke’s Plan to Slaughter Wild Horses and Burros Now Expanded to Sage Grouse and Beyond

Unedited Story from Western Values Project

Secretary Zinke’s proposed changes would be devastating, it would harm the $1 billion outdoor recreation economy on sage-grouse habitat and endanger not just the sage-grouse, but the other iconic species like mule deer, elk, and pronghorn that depend on a health sagebrush ecosystem.

Two years ago today, history was made when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the greater sage-grouse did not warrant a listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to the finalization of strong, science-based Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land management plans.

Those plans were the product of collaboration amongst stakeholders including ranchers, governors, conservationists, sportsmen and sportswomen, local elected officials, and industry officials. They were a promise to work together in keeping with the tradition of working the land, by maintaining responsible and sustainable methods to keep the sage-grouse from needing a listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Two years later, the future of the plans is now unknown. In an attempt to dismantle the plans, Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Department of the Interior (DOI) have decided that the West does not know what’s best and therefore have intervened to inject their own agenda is these already established plans. Their agenda pushes the interests of the oil and gas industry, and a few select members of Congress who are determined to have energy development dominate our public lands.

Secretary Zinke’s proposed changes would be devastating, it would harm the $1 billion outdoor recreation economy on sage-grouse habitat and endanger not just the sage-grouse, but the other iconic species like mule deer, elk, and pronghorn that depend on a health sagebrush ecosystem.

Instead of ignoring years of hard work and collaboration, Secretary Zinke should recognize the stakeholders who worked for years on these plans, not ignore them in favor of oil and gas lobbyists. Rehashing existing plans and starting from zero is another half ditch attempt by Washington to overstep its bounds. Secretary Zinke and DOI are even ignoring the advice of western wildlife managers and scientist, who have made clear that the plans do not need major changes.

But Secretary Zinke is only focused on serving himself and corporate special interests.

As Westerners celebrate this two-year anniversary, their message to Secretary Zinke is loud and clear: stop attempting to destroy years of hard work, instead support the plans.

http://westernvaluesproject.org/two-years-in-zinke-scraps-sage-grouse-plans-for-special-interests/

Wild Horse & Burro Crisis – Your Action Is Urgently Needed

Support from our good friends at Equine Advocates

Wild Horse Crisis!

Survival of America’s Wild Horses & Burros Threatened!

Horse Slaughter Crisis!

This Repulsive and Un-American Practice Could Return to U.S. Soil for the First Time Since 2007!

Both of these vital equine issues are now hanging like large clouds over our country where the vast majority of Americans disagree with what some politicians are trying to pull off to satisfy special interests in the ranching, oil & gas, mining and horse industries. The history of both issues are long and complicated.

For right now, however, we have a RED ALERT, so please take action now:

The House Appropriations Committee recently passed the Stewart Amendment which would allow for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Department of Interior to kill 92,000 healthy Wild Horses and Burros. Most will end up being slaughtered. This is not only outrageous and barbaric, but goes directly against the will of 80% of the American People who want them preserved and protected. The Senate Interior Appropriations Committee can do the right thing and decide to prevent the killing of these animals when they hold a hearing on this matter during the week of September 18th.

  1. Please take the time to call your two U.S. Senators. You can reach them at this number: (202) 224-3121 which is the switchboard for the U.S. Senate.
  2. Please identify yourself, providing your name and address.
  3. Tell them that you want the protections of Wild Horses and Burros in the 2018 Spending Bill for the Department of the Interior to remain and prohibit the killing and slaughter of our Wild Horses and Burros.
  4. Also call the two leaders of the Interior Appropriations Sub-Committee, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Tom Udall (D-NM) and express the same sentiments to them.

There is no time to waste!  Please act now!   Thank you!

After you act, please read on:

  • What we do know is that Americans do not want Wild and Domestic Equines slaughtered for food. We want a law banning horse slaughter and horse slaughterhouses from operating in the U.S. as well as banning the transport of any live equines from the U.S. across our borders into Mexico and Canada for slaughter or to any other country for that purpose.
  • We want our Wild Horses and Burros preserved and protected. We want the round-ups to stop and we want the Wild Mustangs and Burros being held captive in holding facilities “managed” by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) turned back out on the range. We want the BLM dismantled and a new agency with real experts who can get together on ways to humanely manage and preserve these animals on the range to take over with a new approach that honors the will and sentiment of the vast majority of the American People on this issue.

However, right now, there exists a political climate in this country unlike anything we have seen in more than a decade.  There are more horse slaughter proponents in the current administration assuming positions of power than ever before, including two Cabinet members, Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue.

In addition, Forrest Lucas, billionaire oilman (Lucas Oil; Lucas Oil Stadium), rancher, horse slaughter proponent, and founder of the anti-animal lobbying group, Protect the Harvest, has been given access to the executive branch and has used his influence to add horse slaughter proponents and those committed to the destruction of our Wild Horses and Burros to this administration.  These are just three of many horse slaughter supporters, including Members of Congress, Governors and other elected and appointed officials working to take this country backwards and return horse slaughter to U.S. soil.

No Wild or Domestic Equine has been legally slaughtered in this country since 2007.  There also have been many Scientific Studies and White Papers released since 2010 to further support the many reasons why horses should not be slaughtered for food. One is the 2010 landmark study on the serious health risks for people who eat the meat of equines treated with the common drug Phenylbutazone or “Bute” for short. Click here to read that study.

Another is the 2015 Chapman University Study documenting the presence of horse meat in some chopped meat products in the American food supply.  Click here for this study.

On August 1, 2017, the Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) issued a White Paper, the result of years of research. It exposes the corruption within the BLM and its shocking and deadly agenda for America’s Wild Horses and Burros.

The WHFF documents vast discrepancies in BLM records, including the numbers of horses in certain BLM holding facilities, the numbers captured, the ones that disappeared, as well as many discrepancies pertaining to financial matters, including the misappropriation of funds.

Please take the time to read this important WHFF White Paper and the Exhibits (exhibits are on a separate tab at the bottom of the page).

What More You Can Do:

  • Please use these important documents and take them to your elected officials to illustrate why horse slaughter should be banned entirely and not allowed to return to the U.S. and why Wild Horses and Burros should be preserved and protected – and not destroyed which is the government’s agenda right now.
  • Please use Equine Advocates’ Horse Slaughter Fact Sheet 2016 as a guide as well.
  • It is imperative that you contact your members of Congress in the House of Representatives (we all have just one) and your two U.S. Senators as soon as possible (preferably during this month of September 2017) and let them know that you oppose the return of horse slaughter and that you want protections of Wild Horses and Burros restored and their sale to slaughter banned.

Please stay tuned as we provide updates and new developments about these two vital issues facing America’s horses.  To receive our online alerts, please click here:

Time is of the essence!

Thank you!

 

 Hayden & Nelson, rescued Wild American Mustangs residing at Equine Advocates Rescue & Sanctuary in Chatham, NY.  Photo by Kara Heniges.

Feel Good Sunday Video: A Horse Lover’s Prayer

“It’s time to pause, dismount, loosen the cinch, pull off the headstall and bit, let your trail-buddy graze while you pull up a cool spot under a tree and sip on one of my homemade Wrangler Iced Teas…yes, it’s been a tough battle and the war is far from being won. 

This next week is going to be a rough one so take a few minutes to sit back, reflect and recharge on why we do what we do.  Whether you are lucky enough to live with equines or not, this video will give you pause and bring a tear to your eye. 

I raise my drink in honor of all those I stand shoulder to shoulder with; we will win, we will save them, each and every one of them.  May God bless you all!  Cheers!” ~ R.T.

Public Records Sought on EPA, Beef Lobby Collusion to Weaken Water Protections

Press Release from: Biological Diversity.org

Livestock operations have polluted 35,000 miles of U.S. rivers and contaminated groundwater in 17 states. Each year American beef production creates 489 billion pounds of manure.

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a Freedom of Information Act request today seeking communications between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and beef-lobbying groups. The filing seeks information about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s participation in a promotional video for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in which he urges ranchers to flood the agency with comments in favor of repealing the Clean Water Rule.

“It’s bizarre and appalling that our nation’s chief environmental official starred in a beef-industry infomercial attacking protections for our water supplies,” said Jennifer Molidor, a Center senior food campaigner. “Americans deserve to know why Pruitt would support the private interests of this incredibly polluting industry.”

Livestock operations have polluted 35,000 miles of U.S. rivers and contaminated groundwater in 17 states. Each year American beef production creates 489 billion pounds of manure. Improperly stored manure creates toxic byproducts that frequently leak into rivers, lakes and streams. In addition 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of fertilizer used to grow animal feed leak into waterways.

The Clean Water Rule, a clarification of the Clean Water Act ordered by the Obama administration, prohibited the dumping of waste in “navigable waters” without a permit. The rule exempts most agricultural drainage ditches.

As the attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt sued to halt the rule. Industry groups filed similar lawsuits. In all cases the rule was ultimately upheld.

“Pruitt took office already determined to slash Obama-era safeguards like the Clean Water Rule without concern for the dangerous fallout of losing these protections,” said Molidor. “It’s the EPA’s job to protect our environment from big polluters, not the other way around.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2017/beef-lobby-09-14-2017.php

Wild Horse and Burro Hater Zinke continues to add lobbyists and DC insiders to Interior

Source: Western Values Project.org

Ahead of potential confirmation votes, check out profiles of Interior nominees at https://departmentofinfluence.org/

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is expected to vote on the nominations of Joseph Balash and Ryan Nelson to the Interior Department. Ahead of the vote, Western Values Project has taken a look at how the revolving door continues to spin between special interests, their lobbyists, and Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department.

Both nominees have been well documented on Western Values Project’s website for their lengthy histories of favoring big donors and special interests.

“Secretary Zinke is continuing to fill his cabinet with special interests and Washington insiders. While Interior continues to stack the deck with staff from the oil and gas industry, they seem set on ignoring the outdoor industry that our communities rely on. That explains why sportsmen, hunters and anglers are turning against the Secretary,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project. “Balash and Nelson are merely the latest examples of Zinke’s refusal to keep his promise to preserve public lands and uphold his Montana values. With these nominations, it’s abundantly clear that Secretary Zinke does not value the outdoor heritage and public lands that communities in the West rely on.”

Joseph Balash

Joseph Balash, nominated to be assistant secretary of the Interior, land and minerals management, has a long history of favoring special interests over people in his home state of Alaska. In 2013, Balash was cited as one of the “key players on Gov. Sean Parnell’s bill to lower oil taxes.” In 2014, Balash used his time as the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to claim nearly 20,000 acres of the National Arctic and Wildlife Refuge to be offered for oil and gas leasing. He then approved lowered royalty rates on several leases operated by oil company Caelus Energy.

Ryan Nelson
Ryan Nelson, nominated to be solicitor of the Interior, has a background in using power to silence critics. During the George W. Bush administration, Nelson used his time as deputy attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division to argue against environmental groups and activists. Nelson has since spent his time in the private sector acting as general counsel to the health care product company Melaleuca, Inc. and its CEO Frank VanderSloot. Both Melaleuca and VanderSloot have used lawsuits and other bullying tactics to attack journalists and other critics.

http://westernvaluesproject.org/zinke-continues-to-add-lobbyists-and-dc-insiders-to-interior/

Feel Good Sunday: Tearful Moment As Dying Stable Hand Feeds Horse One Last Time

Source: Mini News

Former stable hand, 87, smiles as he is granted his dying wish to feed a horse one last time just three days before he passed away at a hospice. A pensioner smiled in his hospital bed after he was granted his dying wish to feed a horse for the last time – just three days before he died.

Patrick Saunders, 87, from Braunton, Devon, in the UK had spent most of his adolescence around horses, and began his working life at a stable.

The Big Win in Wyoming

Source: Western Watersheds Project

Welfare Ranchers Get a Boot in the Butt!!!

Western Watersheds Project is not primarily known for its defense of the U.S. Constitution. We tend to focus on federal laws and policies relating to the environment and public lands. But now, thanks to a Tenth Circuit Court win and a successful but protracted battle in Wyoming, you can count us among the defenders of free speech!

It all started when Jonathan Ratner, our dedicated Wyoming Director, started gathering evidence of livestock-caused water pollution on public lands and submitting his data to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). His results of significant fecal coliform contamination were so threatening to the political establishment of the “Cowboy State” that rather than clean up the water, Wyoming ranchers started to seek ways to shut us up.

In 2014, anti-environmental attorney (and potential Trump pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management) Karen Budd-Falen and a group of ranchers claimed Jonathan must have trespassed on their private property in order to gather water quality samples from public lands grazing allotments. She wound up the loser. This frivolous lawsuit was resolved in 2016 through a settlement agreement that ultimately penalized the ranchers through their legal fees, and WWP agreeing to follow the same laws it always follows regarding private lands.

Then, in 2015, the Wyoming DEQ decided not to accept any of WWP’s data: “Any submission submitted by such organizations should not be accepted due to their inherent bias towards one of Wyoming’s leading economic industries.” If an organization cares about water quality and native fish habitat more than cows, the data be damned.

Also that year, the DEQ decided to change the rules about E.coli in 76 percent of the waterways in the state – effectively legalizing the extreme pollution levels that Jonathan had been documenting. The rule change, requested by the livestock industry, went into effect in February 2017 despite broad opposition by non-ranchers, recreational users, and federal land management agencies.

In addition to working against WWP and the public’s interest in healthy waterways, the Wyoming State Legislature decided to take special interests’ right to wreck the environment to another level by passing legislation making it illegal to cross “open land for the purpose of collecting resource data.” WWP and our allies were alarmed by the fact that the laws – dubbed “Jonathan’s Laws” by our staff – would seek specifically to punish people who intend to communicate data to the government; this is a restriction on free speech and targets a specific class of citizens (data collectors) in a way that the U.S. Constitution prohibits.

After the Wyoming legislature modified the laws in 2016, Wyoming had our case in District Court dismissed. But WWP and our co-plaintiffs weren’t fooled by the tweaks in language, and we appealed the case to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s dismissal and concluded that plain reading of the statute demonstrated that Wyoming was seeking to regulate an activity that occurred on public land and that resource data collection is within the definition of the creation of speech – protected under the First Amendment and essential to public participation in numerous federal environmental statutes. The case now goes back to district court.

Wyoming counties have also taken up the charge to block public access in public lands. In Lincoln County, for years the public used a county road to reach the Raymond Mountain Wilderness Study Area on public lands. In 2013, the county sold a strip of land along the road to an Idaho rancher and subsequently made the private portion of the road impassable. According to emails revealed in litigation, this was done specifically to block WWP’s access to a long-troubled grazing allotment.

WWP is enormously grateful to our attorneys at Public Justice and our co-plaintiffs National Press Photographers Association and Natural Resource Defense Council for standing with us on this appeal. We’re also enormously proud of Jonathan Ratner’s work to expose and address the harmful impacts of public lands livestock grazing in the “Cowboy State.”

While we wait for this next round of litigation, we hope that Wyoming’s next move is simply to clean up its act and stop letting the livestock industry foul the state’s precious waters with impunity. 

https://www.westernwatersheds.org/

WATCH: These Texas cowboys are saving pets and livestock after Hurricane Harvey

BY Lora Strum as published on PBS

They started on foot, but as the rains let up, they’re bringing in the cavalry — the horse cavalry, that is.

The Texas Animal Health Commission, a state agency dedicated to protecting livestock and pets from natural disasters and disease, is assisting in Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. They are sending in their official cowboys to wrangle livestock and free trapped pets.

The agency’s cowboy rescuers, known as the Horseback Emergency Response Team, ride horses into disaster areas to aid in animal recovery efforts. Volunteers accompany them, wading into flood waters to rescue strays.

The NewsHour spoke with Thomas Swafford, public information officer for the Austin, Texas-based agency, about what his agency is doing to ensure the safety of pets and livestock amid the intense flooding in the region.

Seventy-four shelters in Texas accept evacuees with pets, while even more animal shelters are evacuating pets to shelters in other states to make room for lost or abandoned pets, according to the agency. For livestock that cannot be moved, the agency recommends owners cut a hole in any fencing to allow animals to seek higher ground. As hard as it may be for owners, these animal rescuers asked they not to stay with their pets in flooding situations, as it increases their chances of being trapped.

Killing Wild Horses & Burros is NOT Enough, Zinke Now Puts Cross-Hairs on U.S. Taxpayers

Press Release from Center for Western Priorities

Zinke stacks the deck against the working American public

DENVER—Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today announced members of a new “Royalty Policy Committee” which will advise the Interior Department on how to “modernize” public land management.

The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:

“Talk about stacking the deck. This committee is hand-picked to give oil, gas, and coal companies what they want while ripping off taxpayers. The committee members from ‘Academia and Public Interest Groups’ don’t represent a single public interest group. The political members of the committee represent Republican governors, while states with Democratic governors don’t get a seat at the table.

“When Secretary Zinke took office, he inherited a department that had already taken large steps toward modernizing America’s oil and gas royalty rates, ensuring taxpayers get their fair share for resources owned by the American people. Under his leadership, the Interior Department has rolled back all of those programs, and replaced it with an advisory group that has collectively dedicated hundreds of years to drilling and mining on public lands and waters without regard for our air and water, or the best interests of taxpayers.”

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