Journalism in the Public Interest

Buyer of Wild Horses Under Investigation by State, Feds

Colorado officials are considering whether to prosecute Tom Davis, who has bought more than 1,700 wild horses from the federal government since 2008, for violating laws meant to deter livestock theft.

Colorado officials are considering whether to prosecute Tom Davis, who has bought more than 1,700 wild horses from the federal government since 2008, for violating laws meant to deter livestock theft. (Dave Philipps)

May 9, 2013: This article has been updated.

This story was co-published with the Colorado Springs Gazette.

A southern Colorado man under investigation for his handling of protected wild horses has admitted to state regulators that he shipped animals out of Colorado in violation of brand inspection laws, officials said.

Officials with the Colorado Department of Agriculture's Brand Inspection Division have turned the case involving Tom Davis over to the district attorney in Alamosa for prosecution.

"The brand laws are some of the oldest laws in the state. They are there to prevent livestock theft and we take them very seriously," Brand Commissioner Chris Whitney said.

Davis, 64, a livestock hauler and proponent of the horse meat industry who lives in La Jara, 15 miles southwest of Alamosa, has purchased more than 1,700 wild horses from the federal Bureau of Land Management since 2008 — roughly 70 percent of all horses sold by the agency.

Davis signed agreements with the BLM, which is charged with managing and protecting wild horses, promising not to sell any to slaughter.

As detailed in an investigation published by ProPublica in September, Davis has brand inspections documents for 765 horses, which say he shipped these animals to Texas towns near the Mexican border.

There is no information about disposition of the other horses he purchased from the BLM. In an interview this spring, Davis said he found the horses good homes, but declined to provide records showing what happened to them. Reached by phone at his home this week, he said again that he has lived up to his sale contracts with the BLM.

Animal welfare advocates fear the mustangs purchased by Davis were exported to Mexican slaughter plants.

An estimated 37,000 wild horses, descended from escaped Spanish steeds and Indian ponies, as well as ranch strays, roam public lands in the West, where they have been protected by law for decades. Selling them for slaughter is illegal.

The ProPublica account caught the attention of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, which requires all livestock in Colorado to be inspected by the state when shipped over state lines to prevent livestock theft.

Whitney interviewed Davis at his house Nov. 6 and said Davis was "very candid" in acknowledging that he had illegally shipped horses out of the state without the required inspections. Whitney declined to give details of the conversation, but said it was enough for him to recommend prosecution.

"Sometimes we issue a ticket, but this is a serious violation," said Whitney.

Davis acknowledged he had spoken to Whitney, but said he was not aware he could face prosecution.

The brand office is turning over the case to Colorado's 12th Judicial District Attorney, David Mahoney, Whitney said.

If convicted, penalties range from a small fine to prison time, depending on whether the violations, which records suggest span years and many truckloads of horses, are charged as one infraction or hundreds.

"That is up to the prosecuting attorney," Whitney said.

The district attorney could not be reached for comment.

Davis is also the subject of a federal investigation. The probe was opened in June by the BLM's law enforcement division, but is now being handled by the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Inspector General, according to Interior spokesman Blake Androff. Often the inspector general takes over cases in which there is a potential conflict or involvement by the agency.

"By law and in practice, the IG's office is independent from the Office of the Secretary," Androff said.

The inspector general's office did not respond to questions about the subject and scope of its inquiry.

Wild horse advocates welcomed the news of the potential prosecution, but said any investigation would be incomplete until it includes the actions of the Bureau of Land Management and its parent agency, the Department of Interior.

"Let's get real. There is no way the BLM could think someone was buying that many unadoptable horses for anything but slaughter," said Laura Leigh, director of the Nevada-based advocacy group Wild Horse Education. "The people who sold those horses are just as culpable. This is a breach of public trust and there needs to be some accountability."

A BLM helicopter rounds up horses in the Stone Cabin Valley of Nevada in the winter of 2012. (Dave Philipps)To keep the wild horse population on the range at target levels, the BLM rounds up thousands of horses each year and encourages the public to adopt them. Most horses, however, are not adopted and instead go into a government-funded system of feedlots and pastures that hold more than 47,000 animals — 10,000 more than are in the wild.

The system is at capacity and accounts for most of the BLM's wild horse budget.

BLM spokesman Tom Gorey described the agency as being "in a real bind."

Emails among BLM staff obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show the BLM turned to Davis as a way to get horses out of government care. BLM employees would contact Davis, encouraging him to buy dozens of mustangs at a time, sight unseen.

Davis was vague in communications with the agency about his plans for the hundreds of untamed horses, according to BLM documents, saying he was going to use them as movie extras or sell them to graze on oil fields.

Davis is a vocal proponent of the horse slaughter industry and has tried to open his own plant.

"Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever eat is a fat yearling colt," he said in an interview in May. "What is wrong with taking all those BLM horses they got all fat and shiny and setting up a kill plant?"

The BLM did not attempt to verify his claims about where the horses went. When concerns were raised by horse advocates, the sale program director who approved Davis' purchases assured them that the buyer in question had a long relationship with the BLM and was "above reproach," according to an email Sandra Longley, one of the advocates who had misgivings about Davis, sent to other advocates.

In the past, the BLM has arrested wild horse buyers for attempting to ship horses to Texas to sell for slaughter.

In 2011, the agency arrested two Utah men, Robert Capson and Dennis Kunz, with a truckload of 64 wild horses bound for Texas, where, according to a federal indictment, they planned to sell the animals to an exporter for slaughter. The two were charged with wire fraud and making false statements, both felonies. Capson pleaded guilty this summer. Kunz is awaiting trial.

The North Carolina-based American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign is calling for a congressional oversight hearing on the BLM's management of the wild horse program.

"We are pleased the state of Colorado is acting immediately to hold Davis accountable," said Suzanne Roy, the group's director. "But what about the BLM? They need to be held accountable too."

Update, Nov. 13, 2012:  As reported first by Politico, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar threatened to “punch out” reporter Dave Philipps when Philipps asked him questions about the wild horse program and Tom Davis at an Election Day event.  The Colorado Springs Gazette has posted audio of the incident on its web site. In a statement issued today, a spokesman for the Interior Department said “the secretary regrets the exchange.” 

Update, May 9, 2013: Last week, after months of false starts, Colorado authorities opened a formal criminal investigation into Tom Davis, a southern Colorado wild horse buyer who admitted to breaking state laws while shipping hundreds of federally protected wild horses to an unknown fate out of state. The Conejos County Sheriff's Office will handle the probe.

Well I for one am very ticked not only at Tom Davis but BLM officials who let this occur in the first place. Tom should have. Even aware of the brand inspection laws as he is a life stock hauler. Being ignorant of the law in this case doesn’t wash with me. And BLM just turned a VERY BLIND EYE to all the dirty double dealing they were involved in.

BLM keeps touting about how they don’t sale horses and burros for slaughter. Tis case sure points out some very ugly gray shades of what may or may not be the truth. I believe it’s way past time to remove the wild horses and burros from the clutches of greedy cattleboys who’s biggest dream is to clear the range for their beloved moo moo cows.

I think Congressman Grivajla might be a great candidate or possibly Jim Moran for DOI. Let’s face it BLM is stocked piled with pro slaughter advocates. It’s past time to dismantle this agency, get the horses back out on the range, past laws that fully protect the horses and burros and get advocates to help watch out for the horses.

Those responsible for this fiasco I hope if they don’t get prosecuted—I hope they live with the nightmares of the horses screams while being stabbed to death and hung up to have their throats slit.

The BLM is just as guilty as Davis, if not more so.  The BLM is suppose to protect our wild lands and all the creatures on it.  Instead they have stolen OUR wild horses and sent them to man who is not only known as a pro-horse slaughter activist, but openly states that his is pro-slaughter.  Davis makes his living off of sending horses to slaughter.  These are NOT sick, elderly horses, these are young, healthy horses that go to slaughter so that rich Europeans can eat them. 

Taking BLM horses to slaughter is a crime and all should be prosecuted.  BLM employees obviously need more education on “wild life management”!!

sandra longley

Nov. 11, 2012, 4:38 p.m.

I am more than willing to testify and give first hand evidence concerning this buyer, and Sally Spencers approval for his purchase of ALL Adobe Town SA wild horses at Canon City Colo in 2011..I had conversations with her on this subject which I learned of in my purchase of Grey Beard..and those conversations led me to purchase a semiload of old stallions and mares to save them..I only wish I could have done more..It will be some justice to see ALL those involved pay the price

Someone needs to check Davis’ tax records, and see if he paid any tax at all on the sale of 1700 horses.  I think I can guess the answer to that question. 

There was no doubt that Davis would end up in the news. Scum rises.

Investigation into Davis’ purchase of 70% of all wild horses sold —handled by the U.S. Department of Interior. And who’s investigating BLM, part of the Dept. of Interior?

Marybeth Devlin

Nov. 11, 2012, 7:54 p.m.

Independent fact-checking shows there are fewer than 13,000 mustangs left on the range—around 25,000 fewer than BLM persists in declaring, year after year, no matter how many thousands it removes.  Within herd management areas, the actual stocking density comes to approximately one wild horse per four square miles.

The agency’s equid cleansing policy has been effective, yet its disinformation campaign continues.  BLM’s data typically consists of estimates ... based on extrapolations ... employing assumptions ... according to projections ... derived from Monte Carlo simulations.  BLM’s population estimates even include unborn foals.  Obvious computational errors, when called to their attention, are not corrected.  Preposterous, biologically-impossible birth rates are treated as if they were facts. 

BLM’s phony figures have resulted in unnecessary removals, costly holding, and impaired relations between grazing permit-holders (who become alarmed by BLM’s reports of a mustang population explosion) and wild-horse advocates (who know the numbers are bogus and who have suspected all along that BLM must be selling the horses into slaughter).

where does most of the butchered horse meat end up? somebody above says it goes on the dinner plates of rich europeans. does most of it get exported to europe?

Margaret Southwell

Nov. 11, 2012, 11:16 p.m.

Thank you Colorado. At least some justice for a great injustice, the plight of America’s Wild Horse at the hands of BLM management, is being persued.

I can only hope that someone is finally going to get to the bottom of this and that with this investigation will see that they too will see how the BLM consider themselves above the law, never being held accountable to their actions….We can only hope

Well, I think we should all call mr. Whitney on Tuesday and ask him if he for sure sent this matter for prosecution. You know these good ol boys will tell anybody anything.  sorry to say but this article really has no fact and is sort of a regurgitation of the last one.

There will be no justice until the BLM officials who knowingly sold our horses to a kill buyer are prosecuted.

This has been going on for years and no one would listen to the people who have been on the front lines of these roundups video-taping the inhumane treatment of these animals, documenting (as best they could when the BLM officials tried to keep them miles away so they couldn’t document the animals being run down with a helicopter (often young foals that were separated from their mothers, or their hooves were not fully hardened yet and were torn apart trying to keep up - then declared “deformed” and killed!  Or separating stallions, mares, and babies into different pens - and stallions trying so desperately to escape that they broke legs or necks and were destroyed!) and paying the helicopter companies $100,000+ for their participation!  This year’s cost has been estimated at $78 MILLION of our tax dollars being spent on the worst example of cruelty to animals in this country!  By our government employees!  It’s definitely time that WE THE PEOPLE step up and stop this insanity once and for all!

sandra longley

Nov. 12, 2012, 2:18 p.m.

one semiload(40 ave. horses per load) cost Mr Davis 400 dollars to purchase..that same load of horses would bring @ 600 a head at slaughter -a profit of 26,600..Mr Davis took approx..minimum..6-7 loads..netting him a profit of between $141,600-$165,200..thats just in one transaction at Canon City…on top of that..we the taxpayer PAID to have the BLM ship those horses to the mexico border..or where ever he sent them..The adobe horses are large and fat coming off the range..they would bring more than an average price at on the other hand..we the taxpayer paid millions to round up , process vacdinate and geld these wild horses that we sold to this kill buyer..OF COURSE..there is an incentive built into to this flawed system..for someone to buy them for slaughter

Follow the money. Let’s get real - the BLM officials SURELY MADE lots of MONEY off this deal, too.
OBAMA - you need to respond to this, prosecute these officials and get people who care in those positions.

I only hope this investigation and the eventual prosecution of Mr. Davis doesn’t act as a diversion of guilt by the BLM.

Indian ponies? I thought all horses came from Europe and all domestic horses in North America had become extinct during the ice ages?

Marybeth Devlin

Nov. 12, 2012, 6:52 p.m.


Interior Secretary threatens to “punch out” Colorado Springs reporter

Cloud Foundation Director snubbed by Salazar

Colorado Springs, Colo. (November 12, 2012) –- On Election Day, at an enthusiastic gathering of Obama supporters in Fountain, Colorado; Dave Philipps, a reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, had just finished an interview with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar about his controversial policies for managing America’s wild horse populations. Just after Secretary Salazar answered final questions about the future safety of wild horses and he turned to leave the interview, he unexpectedly approached Philipps and told him, “If you set me up like this again, I’ll punch you out.” Standing nearby was Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation, a Colorado-based wild horse advocacy organization. “I was stunned by the Secretary’s rude and clearly hostile comment toward Dave,” said Kathrens.

Kathrens, who had had been granted permission by an Interior law enforcement official to take pictures at the rally added, “ Salazar walked past me, refused to shake my hand, and told me, ‘You know, you should never do that.” It was unclear to Kathrens what he meant. “These threats would have been inappropriate coming from anyone, but the fact that it came out of the mouth of the Secretary of the Interior is alarming,” stated Kathrens. “I can’t believe that a top official in Obama’s cabinet could be so defensive.”

Philipps’ interview with Salazar was a follow-up to a story he had written in September about the sale of wild horses to Tom Davis, a Colorado killer buyer who purchased over 1,700 wild horses from government holding facilities. The horses ended up in south Texas and it is believed they were trucked over the border to Mexican slaughterhouses. Secretary Salazar acknowledged that an investigation of Davis’ activities is currently underway.

Salazar’s anti-wild horse stance came to light in 2004 during his successful run for the U.S. Senate. After a town hall meeting in Greeley, Colorado, wild horse advocate Barbara Flores asked him what he thought about our wild horses. Candidate Salazar responded, “They don’t belong on public lands.” Salazar vacated his Senate seat in 2008 to take his current position as Secretary of the Interior.

The BLM removes far more horses from their legally designated home ranges than can be adopted out to the public. The massive roundups have resulted in the stockpiling of animals in government facilities and privately contracted ranches. Nearly twice as many wild horses are housed in these costly holding operations than currently roam free, leaving most wild herds under populated and vulnerable to inbreeding and die-off due to a lack of genetic diversity.

“You know, this isn’t just about wild horses,” explains Kathrens. “America needs leaders in Washington, and the President needs cabinet members who respect citizens, respect the laws, value discussion and working toward mutual solutions. Ken Salazar displayed none of this on Tuesday.”

@Jim:  i thought the same thing:  Why do the Spanish have steeds and the Indians ponies.  Snort.  Indian ponies grew up eventually right?

Have you ignorant Americans never tried horse meat, it is delicious. No wonder you cannot balance the checkbook when you let the best meat in the world go to waste!

@KD, Ponies can be a a type of horse which is small even as an adult. The interesting thing is the author acts like horses or ponies are native t north america when they are not. Instead of being called “wild” horses they should be called “feral” horses. They are an invasive species.

Why are there so many attorneys sitting by silently? There must be many in this economy that have plenty of time to litigate this what-should-be-highly public story, yet no one even hears about the possible illegal sale of protected horses on government land.  How do these stories go unnoticed and why is the government selling protected horses? Get the Colorado elected officials involved, perhaps they could make a name for themselves by finding some government money that shouldn’t be sent on the person illegally selling protected ponies on government land!!!!! Perhaps if these people in the government stopped selling protected ponies, they could help to document the actions of our military serving in our wars since Vietnam.  Seems there has been little or no documentation of our active duty soldiers (although someone is supposed to be recording the military duty reports) some serving our country to their death, while some government officials get to sell protected ponies on government land?  Something stinks and I think we have a few attorneys in the USA and state of Colorado that could be looking into the many government inadequacies that keep popping up!!  Protected ponies should be protected and accounted for. Our men and women serving our country deserve to be accounted for through documentation that will allow for proper military benefits once their service is complete!!!  Stop wasteful government activities now!!!!  WE THE PEOPLE need to use our voices and demand inquiries and have government employees and people we elect to serve our states become accountable!!  To hear the corporate owned media, the only news that is worthy to give and repeat every 30 minutes from 4 to 6pm is traffic, weather, car chases and entertainment, oh and political news only if it involves sex or negative mudslinging!!!

Think of the millions this man has saved the government by getting these horses off of welfare.  I don’t think the deal was as profitable as some have indicated.  Since Mr. Obama has taken office the market for unwanted horses has fallen because the requirements to get them slaughtered have been increased.  I have been to sales where horses of this size will sell for about $125 to $175/head.  There are days when they can not give a young away.  What would you rather they spend your money on, feeding a horse that no one will ever see, until he dies in 25 years at $4/day or on our military to maintain our safety?

I hope everyone complaining about horse slaughter is vegetarian. Meat free entire adult life.

This man hasn’t saved anybody millions, but has lined his pockets with the blood money of our Wild Horses.  Our tax dollars are spent for the BLM to round up wild horses for slaughter to the tune of 47 million dollars a year.  (Helicopters are expensive)  Tom Davis hauls of to slaughter.  What a scary bunch of ‘humans.’

sandra longley

Nov. 15, 2012, 2:04 p.m.

Salazars latest comment..Salazar told Philipps. “To tell the truth, the wild horse issue has been the most difficult issue we have dealt with. We’ve had hundreds of meetings on it and there are still a lot of problems.”
Really, the gulf spill was not a “difficult issue, the loss of life, jobs, the economic catastrophe, environmental catastrophe for years to come..was not considered a bigger issue?? Salazar has lost touch with his obsession to rid federally protected mustangs from their legal lands..These mustangs are the only federally protect species permently protected on public lands, and the only thing that stands between industrialization of public lands..there is a reason for this genocide that america needs to wake up to

Horses are a non-native invasive species and should be eliminated like other invasive species. They are not “wild” they are “feral”.

Jim..update your information and perhaps your sense of humanity also.. Not so recent findings have shown that the ancestors of these very horses were indeed native to these areas in the West.  They are indeed wild.  I don’t know if you are a plant from the Hunting Industry, Oil/Gas Lobby, or the BLM, themselves, but using accurate data certainly will make your point more impressive.  This is certainly not the first time this inaccurate information as been posted.

Cows are invasive species on public lands… they do not have a place on our lands.  Why do we lease our public lands out cheaply to ranchers for cows yet charge taxpayers ridiculous amounts of money to round up mustangs, store the horses on lots, and line someone’s pockets when he sells for illegal slaughter??

I am a vegetarian and have been so all my adult life and don’t condone feed lots.  That said, it is cheaper and more effective to raise cattle on a Florida feed lot, and in fact that is where most beef cattle come from.

I cannot believe the system exposed here.  It is shocking.  I am so thankful to have this resoucre in Pro Publica.  We must get the information out to the public, I believe they will support.


” the ancestors of these very horses were indeed native to these areas in the West.” Not sure if this is true but certainly you have not proved it with that link. Of course early horses at one time lived in North America. However when horses were introduced (they were not here then) to North America they were a complete surprise to the native people living here. The native people quickly used them to kill other native people and completely reorder the demographics of North america. The horse was a more significant military weapon than the introduction of the rifle.  Neither these horses nor their ancestors ever lived in North America. Saying that other earlier versions of horses lived here is irrelevant.

Leave the mustangs where they are on the public land, let them live as they should in the wild.  Too bad if they’re in someone’s way for their own business purpose (gas/oil, cattlemen, etc).  The current treatment of these horses must stop.  The horror of rounding up, holding pens and going to Mexico or elsewhere for slaughter.  Unbelievable.

Geld and provide birth control as necessary, we will still save huge amounts of taxpayer money and sanity compared to the current system.  Who wants the BLM to have silent partners like Tom Davis?  He isn’t doing us any favors, he’s busy making a lot of bloody money.

I hadn’t followed this subject until I read this article, it is eye-opening… how can this system be going on?  I will be following up with my representatives in Colorado.

There are tough times in the wild for a horse no doubt, however that is the humane option for these horses.  They were born there.  And saves money.  Who could argue?

BTW bring back the buffalo to all public lands.  They are native and wild and deserve to be on more public places than Yellowstone. Those against are fighting the same fight.  It’s like 1900 on the range…

sandra longley

Nov. 15, 2012, 4:39 p.m.

there is no excuse for ignorance in the age of google..prehistoric remains were found thruout N. America..remains show that early man hunted them for food before using them to ride and hunt bigger fact such remains were found in Adobe Town WYO on wild horse HMAs. today-.those same adobe town horses have been DNA tested to carry a significant amount of spanish DNA ..your argument dead ends because all species of Equids descend from wild horses..domestics descended from the wild it is ashes of feral not a rational argument-but a means to demean and devalue..the species…if I kept a mountain lion as a pet and then he got loose back into the wild..would he then be a feral cat?

One last post and I am done with this.

Sandra since you clearly do not know the definition of “feral” here it is “A feral organism is one that has changed from being domesticated to being wild or untamed” If you have a wild animal in a cage and let him go he is not feral as it was not domesticated A horse which descended from domesticated stock domesticated now living as a wild animal is “feral”

Shared DNA does mean this are the same horses. We share DNA with frogs. Also I am not aware of any evidence that early people rode horses in north america prior to the arrival of Europeans. Only speculation but since these were different animals it would not be relevant anyway.

Jim.. will not argue science with you.  all animals were wiped out during the ice age in this area.  Scientists consider those that were here before and have returned as native.. Whatever you say… But more important the Congress of the US by 100% vote gave the Wild Horses use of these Federal Lands in 1971.. So the advocates merely work to make the BLM do their job…

Sandra:  You are a true hero.. You are the person who made room in your heart and on your land for some of the horses that would be doomed without your help… We all wish that we could do what you have done, but continue to do the small things that we can through advocacy. 
And to Becky:  We welcome your efforts to change things for the Wild Horses.  There have been dedicated advocates both for the Wild Horses and supporting the Anti-Horse Slaughter Bill which would certainly change the outlook of for the Wild Horses and Burros, but we need more people to speak up and let the Congress and the Presidency know their feelings..  A well known polling firm found that 80% of the American public are against horse slaughter, and we need every single person to speak up . Please spreed this far and wide.  And thank you, thank you, thank you.

sandra longley

Nov. 15, 2012, 7:40 p.m.

many palentologists are in agreement that the “horse” originated in N. America..and migrated over the land bridge to asia/russia , during the ice age-which is the expaination for Prezawskis horse still existing in mongolia..which perhaps is an indication of their skills of survival..they have been given some of the most barren lands to live on here and fenced in..on reservations..and still they survive the worst that we throw at them..Salazar has an unnatural obsession with the eradication of americas wild horse…these existing wild horses have never been domesticated so are not in fact feral

Jackie blaurock

Nov. 16, 2012, 1:32 p.m.

As indicated above seems like the BLM doesn’t want anything to happen to this man , he is solving the problem of excess horses for them ....

Well, Jim . . .

Horses were native to this land mass and did indeed die off.  Humans were NOT native to this land mass and immigrated here via Bering Strait Land Bridge. 

Are humans an invasive species?  How about all the privately owned for profit cattle that range the public lands - are they native?

This argument is specious. 

The facts are that while the wild horse population does need to be monitored, it is NOT the cause of all the problems laid at it’s hooves - not unless you objectively look at the privately owned cattle grazed on public lands.  Also - we passed into law some things governing the use of these horses once rounded up - to prevent some of the incredible cruelty that was “OK” in the past.

Tom Davis broke not only the Brand Inspection laws which he would be well aware of as a livestock transporter, but he broke the legal contract he made with the BLM when he adopted the horses.  He did all this for a profit - and we the people paid to have the horses round up, paid to have them transported to centers, paid for the food, vaccinations, vet care, farrier care, labor costs to tend to the now captive horses.  We the people ALSO paid to have them transported to him.  He then took them to the Tex-Mex border where he sold them into slaughter and made his buck. 

He’ll never pay for the horror of that trip south and the killing there, but at least he should pay back We the People for the costs related to handing him the horses - all the costs per horse.  He should pay for breaking the Brand Inspection laws.  He should pay for breaking the legal agreement with the BLM (who own the horses for 1 year after the adoption - they are NOT his to sell for one year!)

And the BLM individuals who signed over to him the truckloads of horses - they should pay as well.  The aren’t stupid people and knew something was wrong at the very least.

I think we do need to have facilities that slaughter horses here in the USA - the reason they were closed is that they refused to do it humanely.  Most people who have horses understand that this is an unfortunate neccessity and the refusal to have a regulated and humane slaughter of horses here has lead to terrible abuses to the south (and north) of our borders.

Leave the damned horses where they are - won’t cost the taxpayers a penny.

Horses cannot be slaughtered humanely.  There is no need for slaughter in the US.  Less than 1% of American Horses are sent to slaughter each year, and as breeding curtails because of a slow market that will lessen so that rescues and humane euthanasia will take care of of any horses that can’t be cared for by their owner. And American horses will not be approved for shipment to Europe as meat because they are given drugs such as wormers, bute, and do not have the required passport that follows them from birth to slaughter (or natural death), stating what drugs have been given to the horse.  This passport will be required by June 2013. These facts are often not known by people such as Kathleen. And it will soon be against the law to transport any US horse to slaughter, at home or abroad.

Paula - no I did not know that there is a “passport” being proposed.

This is what I do know - the numbers of horses sold to killers who put them in cattle cars (not designed for the physiology of a high headed horse), driven to the borders to sit until they cross over (most of the time without water/food/care if they go down), and then killed in not anyone’s idea of humane, numbers in the 10’s of thousands - 150,000?  1% sounds small but 100,000 horses and ponies is not, is it?

Full disclosure:  I have horses and am an advocate.  I rescued privately a horse out of a bad situation, I have adopted a mustang from the BLM, I have helped horses get into rescue organizations, and have worked with the authorities to get after neglect situations.  I, personally, think that horses should be humanly euthanized if they can no longer be cared for.

But the reality is that the Rescue places are full - overfull.  There is NO hay - and what there is, is very expensive due to drought and diesel costs.  I, and we, are seeing domestic horses let loose because people can’t/won’t take responsibility.  It costs money to have a horse euthanized and disposed of and people send them to auction to the killers because they can’t or won’t pay the money, or they just starve them.

Rescue organizations and people humanely euthanizing their horses will not be the reality of a lot of horses, be that 1%, or 100,000.

It is from that reality that I say, I would prefer to have someplace that will “humanely” kill horses.  Not from personal desire of such places - I am a vegetarian largely because I do not wish to support factory farms and the killing industry - but because the alternative is horrifyingly abusive for horses.  The reality of what is occurring now.  I can’t rescue them all.  I take good care of mine and they will never end up at a sale being picked up by a killer.

If you, or the Humane Society or AVMA, can put a stop to the slaughter - great!  Seriously.  But the reality is that the horse industries, and people, do not always put the horse first.  And horses will pay. I see it now.  Animals always pay when they get between humans and money.  Any species.

As far as the medications - I agree - there are a lot of meds in domestic horses and that should preclude them from human consumption, but not the “meat by-products” industry and that means a lot of pet food - for our cats/dogs. They don’t list “horsemeat” but it is included under “meat by-products”.

I would love to see our companion animals not be subjected to the kill industries.  I would also like more monitoring of the industries that kill our “meat” animals for violations.  I would REALLY like to see more people become aware of just how horrid it is for horses these days shipped off to killing places in Mexico (and Canada to a slightly lesser degree) and maybe this cause involving the BLM and Davis will allow that information to get more publicly dispersed.

I know that you believe the things that you have posted, and obviously you are a kind and caring person.  First, Horse meat cannot go into pet food.  It was completely banned from dog food (and I don’t think was ever allowed in cat food) in the 1970’s.  Dogs died after being fed horse meat, particularly collies and other similar breeds and collie cross breeds.  So it was completely eliminated.  so it is not included in meat-by-products.
As far as transportation, it is dismal, but a law went into effect in 2010, I believe, that prevents horses from being transported in double decker cattle trailers.  The horses can only be transported in single deck trailers that allow the horses to stand naturally with their head raised.
Canada tried to build “humane” horse slaughter facilities, but it just has not worked.. Youtube has several horrible instances, and there have been problems with the inspections. Judge this for yourself, but most just don’t think that horse slaughter can ever be humane because of the flight nature of horses. 
And the Passport problem is true, and I believe is going to prevent the investment that would be required to build something that would fit requirements and be profitable for the Europeans that build and run them…Please there are so many better informed advocates than me. 
And here is my email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Please send me an email, and I will return the names and addresses of some of the most knowledgeable people in the fight to ban horse slaughter for all American Horses here and abroad.  If it is not an option, groups like the AQHA which promote breeding will be forced to change their structure, which will be good.  Over 90% of horses that are sent to slaughter are between the age 2-9. healthy, and the majority are QH or similar breed.    Killer buyers don’t buy skinny or sick horses, because the slaughter plants do not accept them.  And there are bills in the Senate and the House that will ban horse slaughter in the US and transport to slaughter outside the US… We can certainly use help to get these laws passed.  I hope that you are not offended, but honestly, what you thought about slaughter is textbook what the proslaughter groups like AQHA promote.


No offense taken - I emailed you. 

My upset-ness about the horse situation and expressed desire for American kill places has to do with what seems to me an inevitability (given people involved) and my desire to reduce some of the horror and suffering of the horses - at least the road trip and Mexican kill plants.  I’ve seen some of the clips of the Canadian plants and know that aren’t much better.  You are correct about the fear response of horses.  I believe that humane slaughter is an oxymoron but don’t know what else to come up with given what I have dealt with (on an individual level) and see on-going.

That said - I followed your link and I am so impressed by what you accomplished.  I may be seeing what is happening before the horses end up with kill buyers but you and your community dealt with the other end.  How horrible. My sincere congratulations to you and your community.

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