UPDATE on the 40 rescued horses sold at auction in Utah. ~Declan
Thursday, May 30, 2013
UPDATE on the 40 rescued horses sold at auction in Utah. ~Declan
Regardless of your views on eating meat - If the USDA already can't handle keeping the slaughter of animals we slaughter in this country (more) humane, and they can't ensure the meat we already have is safe, how are they going to add in the horses? How will the USDA EVER be able to regulate horse slaughter? ~Declan
USDA Inspector General: Food Safety and Humane Slaughter Laws Ignored With Impunity
Two weeks ago, the USDA's Office of the Inspector General released a report that, once again, proves that our food system is broken: First, FSIS doesn't meaningfully attempt to stop repeat violations of food safety laws. Second, it has allowed a 15-year-old pilot program with faster slaughter and fewer inspectors to proceed without review. Third, it all but ignores its humane slaughter mandate. Remarkably, unless you read Food Safety News or the agricultural media, you will have missed this extremely damning report.
First, FSIS' food safety oversight system in pig slaughterhouses is completely broken. Out of 44,128 identified violations of food safety laws at 616 slaughterhouses over four years, there were just 28 plant suspensions, all brief. Over these same four years, FSIS didn't reach enforcement stage 5 or 6 even once. OIG offers some stomach-turning examples of illegal activity that warranted but did not receive suspension, including:
At a South Carolina slaughterhouse, FSIS issued more than 800 violations, including fourteen for egregious violations like "fecal contamination on a hog after the final trim," almost 100 "for exposed or possibly adulterated products that had 'grease smears' or 'black colored liquid substance' on processed meat," and 43 for "pest control problems, such as cockroaches on the kill floor." This plant was not suspended even once.
At a Nebraska slaughterhouse, FSIS issued more than 600 violations, which included 50 repeat violations for "contaminated carcasses that included 'fecal material which was yellow [and] fibrous' on the carcass." FSIS never even reached enforcement stage three, notice of intended enforcement, let alone suspension.
At an Illinois slaughterhouse, FSIS issued more than 500 violations, including 26 repeat violations for "fecal matter and running abscesses on carcasses." Yes, FSIS found fecal matter and running abscesses on carcasses 26 times. Nevertheless, FSIS never even got to stage three on its 6-stage plan.
Second, fifteen years ago USDA approved a "pilot program" to speed slaughter lines and reduce inspector numbers in some plants, but it never bothered to see how the program is working. Remarkably, the slaughterhouse with the most violations was such a plant, "with nearly 50 percent more [violations] than the plant with the next highest number." One of these plants doesn't even require manual inspection of viscera, a requirement at the other 615 pig slaughter plants, because "some signs of disease and contamination can be detected only through a manual inspection. Examples include ... parasites within the intestine, and inflamed or degenerated organs that are unusually sticky to the touch or excessively firm."
Third, even top FSIS personnel don't understand what the Humane Slaughter Act requires of them. Decisions are "inconsistent, lenient, and endorsed by district officials." OIG officials visited just 30 plants, each for no more than 30 minutes, and yet they still witnessed multiple instances of animals regaining consciousness after "stunning," for which the inspector-in-charge chose not to issue a report (as was legally required). "If this occurred when our audit team and FSIS officials were present, we are concerned that this might be more prevalent when the plants and inspectors are not being observed." The OIG also reviewed violation reports for these 30 plants and found that of the 158 violations, there were 10 egregious violations that did not result in suspension, as is legally required. As just two examples:
At an Indiana slaughterhouse, a worker shot a pig through the head with a captive bolt, which "lodged in the hog's skull. The hog remained conscious and aware while the plant sent for another gun, which was about 2 minutes away. The second gun also appeared to misfire causing the hog to squeal, but it remained conscious and aware. The hog then managed to dislodge the first gun from its skull. Ultimately, a portable electric stunner had to be used to successfully render the hog unconscious. Following this incident, FSIS cited another violation for a hog regaining consciousness on the rail. The plant was not suspended for either egregious incident."
At a Pennsylvania slaughterhouse, "a hog that had been stunned and bled regained consciousness. The hog was able to right its head, make noise, kick, and splash water in reaction to being placed in a scalding tank." Yes, this poor animal was placed, throat slit open but conscious, into scalding hot water. "The inspector only issued an NR. The plant was not suspended."
Additionally, OIG interviewed 39 inspectors at the 30 plants they visited; one-third said they would not even issue a noncompliance report if they witnessed a conscious animal on the bleed rail (which legally requires suspension). OIG noted that similar inspector confusion regarding their basic legal obligations was clear in reports from GAO and OIG in 2010 and 2008, yet nothing has been done to rectify the situation.
Every year according to the CDC, there are tens of millions of cases of food poisoning, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths. The agency charged with reducing these numbers is doing, according to its Office of the Inspector General, a pathetically bad job.
Every year, roughly 150 million cattle and pigs are slaughtered in our nation's slaughterhouses, and the one measly law that attempts to ensure some small decrease in their abuse is all-but-ignored by the agency charged with enforcing it. Even their top personnel don't understand what it says.
Want to stop eating contaminated food and take a stand for compassion at the same time? Please consider eliminating meat from your diet.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
This is so frustrating to me when there are obviously people out there who want to save these horses from slaughter and give them a second chance at life. ~Declan
Neglected horses may go to slaughter at public auction
By Lorraine Jackson, ksl.com Contributor
May 29th, 2013 @ 1:32pm
As posted on KSL.com
SPANISH FORK — Huddled closely together at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds, 40 horses that survived a record-breaking winter and several months of neglect will have to face one more hurdle Wednesday: buyers for foreign slaughterhouses.
Multiple volunteers and horse rescue organizations have confirmed that "kill buyers" will be attending Wednesday's public sale of the neglected horses owned by mother and son Rory and Trudy Childs of Smokey Mountain Ranch. Fourth District Judge Fred Howard ordered that the horses be sold to pay a lien to the Utah County Sheriff's Office, which cared for the horses after they were discovered near starvation in mid-February of this year.
Buyers may purchase the horses, transport them to Canada or Mexico, and resell them to slaughterhouses for processing. While regulations have recently changed on the matter of domestic horse slaughter, there are currently no U.S. slaughterhouses open for business.
Alex Anderson of the Equine Pavilion in Park City, along with the owners and ranch hands of Blue Sky Ranch, plan to be at the auction to try and outbid buyers for the slaughterhouses on as many horses as possible. They have been donating and volunteering since February, and don't want to see the horses go to slaughter. They will be wearing white shirts to identify themselves as being there to outbid the other buyers.
"They are really beautiful horses, and because we've been feeding them all spring, they are healthy and ready to go to work," Anderson said. "We got there the first day thinking we would be there to volunteer for a couple of hours, and ended up spending all day buying water troughs, supplements, and as much hay as we could find in the area. Almost four months later, we're still there."
Nine purebred quarter horse foals and 31 mares and geldings ranging in age and experience will be auctioned. According to Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff's Office, it is unlikely that the horses will be sold with their papers. "It's my understanding that these are very well bred animals. There's just no paperwork from the owners for hardly any of them."
The Equine Pavilion and Blue Sky Ranch hope to take as many horses as they can afford, but auctions are unpredictable, and they are unsure of how much it will cost to outbid those seeking them for the slaughterhouses.
According to americanhorsemeat.com, buyers for slaughterhouses can't afford to spend more than around 20-25 cents per pound and still make a profit. With fully grown horses ranging between 800-1,000 pounds, to outbid the middle men, bidders will need to pay $160-$250. The nine weanlings would potentially go for less.
Anderson has secured board for the horses near her facility and hopes to find homes for them in the next several months.
"We're going to take as many as we can, and then just hope that a lot of great, normal horse people show up with trailers who want to take home a great prospect," says Anderson. "We didn't feed and nurse these horses back to health just so they could go for more per pound."
The auction takes place Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds.
Statement from Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibiters' Association President, Tracy Boyd, in support of humane legislation - H.R.1518 the PAST Act (Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2013).
Posted on TWHBEA
A Statement from TWHBEA President Tracy Boyd
This past weekend, I made perhaps the toughest decision of my life. A decision that carries potential ramifications for many of my friends. It carries potential ramifications for immediate family members as well. I, along with six other members of the Executive Committee, voted to support H.R. 1518, better known as the Whitfield Amendment. That was on Saturday morning. Before lunch, our vote was not ratified by the TWHBEA Board of Directors. Presently, TWHBEA has taken no official stance on the proposed legislation.
Let me be clear… I love all facets of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. I support the performance division. How then, you say, can I support this legislation? As president of TWHBEA, I represent the oldest and largest membership driven organization in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. TWHBEA, being an international organization, is also the most widely recognized “brand” representing the Tennessee Walking Horse.
I have always said, “The future of the padded show horse is in the hands of two groups… the trainers who train it and the owners who own it.” Unlike the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), for example, who controls all aspects of the Quarter Horse industry, our industry is not set up that way… primarily due to the regulatory issues involving enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA).
TWHBEA has no say over the padded show horse. TWHBEA has no control over the padded show horse. TWHBEA has no authority over the padded show horse. TWHBEA, does however, bear the brunt of the criticism aimed at the padded show horse. Our membership numbers are directly affected by the controversy. The group with the least input takes the hardest hit. Why? Because as the breed registry and the largest membership driven organization, we are the face of the breed and are perceived as its ultimate authority in the world equine community.
For many years, the padded show horse drove the market and TWHBEA benefited. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when our industry was breeding 25,000 mares and registering 14,000 foals, it was largely due to the padded market. Breeders were breeding for that $15,000/$20,000 yearling. Horses were selling. New people were coming into the breed. In 1997, TWHBEA hit the 20,000-member mark and in the early 2000s operated under a 5 million dollar budget. We had some 25 or 30 employees. We were the second fastest growing breed in America and the fourth largest breed registry overall.
Today, we have fewer than 10 employees. We’ve gone to a four-day work week and cut our staff’s salaries by 20 percent. We are down to 8,300 members. Breeding production levels are at 1950s numbers. It is clear to me that what our industry is doing is no longer working in today’s world. Times have changed. The world, through technology, gets smaller and smaller every day. We can’t hide any longer. It is clear to me that our past has finally caught up with us and the image currently conveyed by our performance horse is no longer accepted in 2013.
TWHBEA has lost members in droves, and the brutal emails I have received tell me why. It is our reputation. It is soring. It is our image. My responsibility lies with TWHBEA and its 8,300 remaining members who represent all 50 states and many foreign countries.
Sadly, we have no more friends outside our industry. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) no longer supports us. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) no longer supports us. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) will not recognize our padded show horse. The American Horse Council, whom we’ve cultivated a close working relationship with for many years, has turned away from us, declining our annual sponsorship this year. The World Equestrian Games refused our sponsorship and returned it to us. The Kentucky After Christmas Sale had no performance horses this year. Last fall, the University of Tennessee featured a flat-shod horse rather than a padded show horse to perform at its annual homecoming football game. All of this breaks my heart.
I believe our modern-day padded show horses are cleaner than they’ve ever been. The problem is that nobody outside our industry believes it. And when you’ve lost the public you have lost it all… and we have clearly lost the public.
For two years our industry has known that Congress would attempt to take our pads and chains unless we provided an acceptable alternative. How did we know that? Chester Gipson, Deputy Administrator for Animal Care at USDA-APHIS, told us so. He told TWHBEA, he told the Trainers’ Association, he told the Celebration and WHOA. Since that announcement the padded horse leadership’s response has been to paint the chains and implement an ambiguous swabbing program. Now the padded leadership is threatening to suspend the licenses of trainers who show under compliant HIOs. Anything beyond that… “Hell No” was the answer. “No compromises!”
I understand that the Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA) may be working on proposed legislation to the Whitfield Amendment. I first heard this in January and have heard it again recently. I hope so. My understanding is that versions of the Whitfield Amendment will continue to be introduced in Congress year after year until something gets passed. It is not going away. So I applaud PSHA if they are working on an alternative. I hope they come up with something soon.
I want the performance division to survive. I believe in the need for the division. I only know that it can’t and won’t survive as it is currently presented. This to me is obvious. The padded show horse’s survival lies at the feet of the trainers who train it and the owners who own it. If I lose some friendships over my vote then so be it. But I hope and pray that the trainers who train padded horses and the owners who own padded horses will find a way to put a horse in the ring that the public can support. Until then, we will remain alienated from the mainstream equine world. It’s as simple as that.
In order for this industry to grow and attract new people, strong, bold, drastic action is needed. A different direction will be required. I just hope our industry will choose the direction rather than have it chosen for us. We all know that the pads and chains alone do not harm the horse, that is no longer the point.
For most of us, our show industry is more about people and families than it is about winning blue ribbons. It’s about the people, the fellowship, the family fun, the friendly competition. Let’s not lose sight of that.
No matter what happens with the Whitfield Amendment, proposed legislation or future versions… the pads and chains do not define this breed.
The Tennessee Walking Horse is the greatest breed in the world. We all agree on that. Just imagine the possibilities that exist for us if we could rid ourselves of this black cloud, this stigma once and for all. Forty-three years is long enough.
I’m sorry to those I’ve offended and hope that one day you will forgive me.
Monday, May 27, 2013
It is really cool to see that inmates are allowed to help horses. I hope they will learn some things from these awesome creatures! ~Declan
Inmates Care For Horses At Putnamville Prison
By Amanda Solliday
Posted May 23, 2013 As posted on Indiana Public Media
Photo: Amanda Solliday/WFIU-WTIU News
Putnamville inmates tend to horses inside the main barn at the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm. Each inmate commits 500 or 1000 hours to the program.
Photo: Amanda Solliday/WFIU-WTIU
Gary Moore shows affection for his favorite horse, Love Ya. Each inmate works with the same horse or horses during shifts at the farm.
Photo: Amanda Solliday/WFIU-WTIU News
A horse welcomes visitors to the 100-acre pasture of the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm. Many of the horses will be adopted by competitive riders or as family pets.
Photo: Amanda Solliday/WFIU-WTIU News
Barbara Holcomb, equine vocational instructor at Putnamville Correctional Facility, explains the abuses that some ex-racehorses experience. All of the thoroughbreds at the farm once raced on Indiana tracks.
Photo: Indiana Department of Correction
Two barns shelter the horses at the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm. The inmates built the large barn and renovated the smaller barn from an older structure.
Photo: Amanda Solliday/WFIU-WTIU
Jacob Seyfried (left), Barbara Holcomb and Jody Cordell watch the horses graze in the pasture. Holcomb works with eight inmates at a time.
Thank you veterans and war horses for your sacrifice! ~Declan
Churchill's mission to rescue the war horses and how he made officials bring tens of thousands homeBy Chris Hastings
UPDATED:17:06 EST, 31 December 2011 As posted on MailOnline
Winston Churchill intervened to secure the safe return of tens of thousands of war horses stranded in Europe after the First World War.
The heroism of the million-strong army of horses that served alongside British troops – often in hellish conditions – is celebrated in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster War Horse, which opens in the UK this month.
And now, historic documents uncovered by The Mail on Sunday reveal many of them were to owe their lives to Churchill’s compassion.
Heroes: Churchill was incensed at the treatment of tens of thousands of Britain's war horses in 1919
British military chiefs were heavily dependent on horsepower to carry men, supplies and artillery, and spent more than £36 million during the war to buy up 1.1 million horses from Britain, Canada and the United States.
War Office documents found in the National Archives at Kew show that tens of thousands of the animals were at risk of disease, hunger and even death at the hands of French and Belgian butchers because bungling officials couldn’t get them home when hostilities drew to a close.
Churchill, then aged 44 and Secretary of State for War, reacted with fury when he was informed of their treatment and took a personal interest in their plight after the 1914-1918 war.
Outraged: The leader fired off angry memos to officials to the the Ministry of Shipping who failed to get the horses back promptly
In a strongly worded missive dated February 13, 1919, Churchill told Lieutenant-General Sir Travers Clarke, then Quartermaster-General: ‘If it is so serious, what have you been doing about it? The letter of the Commander-In-Chief discloses a complete failure on the part of the Ministry of Shipping to meet its obligations and scores of thousands of horses will be left in France under extremely disadvantageous conditions.’
Churchill’s intervention led to extra vessels being used for repatriation, and the number of horses being returned rose to 9,000 a week.
Terry Charman, senior historian with the Imperial War Museum, says Churchill was an animal lover and his motivation could have been based purely on animal-welfare concerns.
‘It is quite possible he could have been moved by the plight of the animals,’ he said. ‘He loved everything from cats to canaries. There is a famous story that on one occasion he was unable to carve a goose which had grown up at his home in Chartwell.
Moving: Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his horse Joey are featured in 'War Horse', Spielberg's emotional piece
But other more pressing military concerns would also have played their part. Prime Minister Lloyd George had specifically appointed Churchill to the position of Secretary of State in January 1919 to speed up demobilisation.
Churchill would have been mindful that delays in recovering the horses would have been a serious distraction from the main job at hand.
Spielberg’s War Horse is based on the bestselling 1982 children’s book by Michael Morpurgo and tells the story of one boy’s attempts to be reunited with his horse Joey after the animal is sent to the front lines in France.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
The passport system in Canada to track the medications horses who enter the food chain are being given, isn't working. ~Declan