Guilty Plea in Double Deck Case Results in $5000.00 in Fines! - January 24, 2006
Lafayette Hills, PA District Justice Deborah Lukens imposed fines and court costs of $5000.00 against Three Hills Rodeo owner David Morehead, 50, and employee Matthew Delarm, 26, both of Bernard, Iowa who pled guilty in Lafayette Hills District Court this week to 36 counts of horse cruelty in the Pennsylvania Horse Transport Law case involving 36 horses that were being transported in two separate double deck cattle trailers from the Liberty Pro Rodeo in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania on Sunday September 18, 2005. Both men were the drivers of the Three Hill Rodeo double deck trailers carrying the 36 horses.
Whitemarsh Police Department, WPD, made the arrests under Pennsylvania Horse Transport Law, Title 18, 5511(e.1) passed in July 2001. The first double deck cattle trailer had 17 horses and an undetermined number of bulls and the second double deck trailer had a total of 19 horses on with four horses in the nose deck, eleven on the top deck, and four more horses in the rear of the trailer, known as the `doghouse'. The bulls were on the bottom deck of the trailer.
Whitemarsh Police Department made the arrests after receiving information from the Pennsylvania State Police that two double deck trailers owned by Three Hills Rodeo,
were transporting horses on double deck trailers in violation of the Pennsylvania Horse Transport Law. When Whitemarsh Police pulled the two trailers over and informed Three Hills of the violations. Morehead stated, “He had never heard of such a thing”. The rodeo promoter incorrectly stated that the Pennsylvania Horse Transport Law only applies to slaughter horses “who are crouched down” in double deck trailers, and “not these horses” gesturing at the rodeo horses on the top deck of the double deck trailer.
Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Aliena Gerhard stated, “The law is clear. The prohibitions are clear. Subsection e1 of the animal cruelty law (found at 18 Pa.C.S.A. 5511) otherwise known as the "double decker" law, is one of
's strongest criminal laws. Its language is definitive. Further, the statute ensures that violators are charged for each and every equine animal they illegally transport.” A second conviction under this section is a misdemeanor which would result in a permanent criminal record for anyone convicted of violating the PA Horse Transport Law a second time. Gerhard stated, “The escalating penalty for a subsequent violation means violators face up to one year in prison for each count charged. People do not get to choose which laws should apply to them. Violators caught in
will be prosecuted and may go to prison.”
The fine is the highest dollar amount ever imposed since the Pennsylvania Horse Transport Law went into effect in August 2001.The fine is the second highest dollar amount in the history of double deck laws in New York and Pennsylvania, the highest fine of $11,100 imposed by Essex County, NY Judge Strothenke in 1994 against David Carper a driver for his father Frank Carper a New Jersey horse dealer who deals in slaughter horses.
The Equine Protection Network’s Christine Berry is elated at the outcome. “Whitemarsh Police Department and Lieutenant Bowers did an excellent job enforcing the law. Everybody involved did their part; the citizen who witnessed the trucks and made the call, the Pennsylvania State Police investigation, ADA Gerhard’s efforts and Judge Lukens sentencing. The guilty plea in this case proves that
law can be enforced by law enforcement personnel that have no training or familiarity with horses, no horse industry experts are needed, law enforcement does not need to take the horses, and the law applies to all horses no matter what their final destination. For five years the Equine Protection Network refused to compromise on the language of this bill banning double deck trailers to transport any horse no matter what its final destination. The outcome in this case proves that the Equine Protection Network was justified in standing our ground for specific language that police and prosecutors could take to court and win convictions.
The arrest and conviction of the Three Hills Rodeo drivers never would have happened if it were not for an alert motorist who knew that the double deck trailers were illegal in
. The Equine Protection Network, EPN, received a call from an alert horse owner who knowing that double deck trailers were illegal in
to transport horses did exactly what we are asking people to do. She looked inside the double deck trailers that were headed eastbound on the PA Turnpike. "This citizen knew to obtain the license plate and the name on the trucks. Without her information this violation would have gone unpunished", stated Christine Berry of the EPN. The EPN was able to determine who owned the double deck trailers and their likely destination. The EPN provided the information to the PA State Police whose investigation led to the Liberty Pro Rodeo being held in Plymouth Meeting.
The Equine Protection Network is urging people to become familiar with the various Horse Transport Laws and then keep their eyes open for double deck trailers in
. All four states strictly prohibit the use of double deck trailers to transport horses, no matter what their final destination. Remember that police depend on complaints by citizens; the public has eyes more places than the police. Be on the lookout for doubles transporting horses in the vicinity of low end horse auctions, low end horse dealers, and rodeos. It is vital that you obtain a license plate or the name on the truck for police to be able to locate and identify the truck. If you see a double deck trailer look inside for horses’ ears and tails. CALL 911 to report the violation, humane agents and animal welfare organizations can NOT make traffic stops, the police must be called. Police are on duty 24/7. If possible take a picture of the truck and trailer.
The Equine Protection Network is urging people to visit our website, www.equineprotectionnetwork.com and download free postcard size Horse Transport Law Cards for
. All three states have Horse Transport Laws that prohibit the use of double deck trailers to transport any horse, no matter what its final destination. Pennsylvania Horse Transport Cards are also available on the Large Animal Protection Society’s website, www.largeanimalprotectionsociety.org and at various events where LAPS has a table. The Equine Protection Network will have cards available at Booth 819 at Horse World Expo in
Gerhard sums it up best,
“The Commonwealth does not tolerate violations of the animal cruelty law in
, and the police did an excellent job in enforcing this law.”
Double Deck Arrest in Plymouth Meeting, PA - September 18, 2005
Plymouth Meeting, PA -On Sunday September 18, 2005 the Whitemarsh Police Department, WPD, stopped two double deck cattle trailers belonging to Three Hills Rodeo, Bernard, Iowa for violating the PA Horse Transport Law, Title 18, 5511(e.1). The first double deck cattle trailer had 17 horses and an undetermined number of bulls and the second double deck trailer had four horses in the nose deck, eleven on the top deck, and four more horses in the rear of the trailer, known as the `doghouse'. The bulls were on the bottom deck of the trailer. David Morehead, 50, and Matthew Delarm, 26, both of Bernard, Iowa were issued one citation each that carries a minimum fine of $50.00 and a maximum fine of $750.00, ninety days in jail, and or forfeiture of the horses involved. A second conviction under this section is a misdemeanor which would result in a permanent criminal record for anyone convicted of violating the PA Horse Transport Law a second time.
The Equine Protection Network, EPN, received a call from an alert horse owner who knowing that double deck trailers were illegal in Pennsylvania to transport horses did exactly what we are asking people to do. She looked inside the double deck trailers that were headed eastbound on the PA Turnpike. "This citizen knew to obtain the license plate and the name on the trucks. Without her information this violation would have gone unpunished", stated Christine Berry of the EPN. The EPN was able to determine who owned the double deck trailers and their likely destination. The EPN provided the information to the PA State Police and the Whitemarsh Police Department, Lafayette Hills, PA made the arrests on September 18, 2005.
The EPN has since been advised by a citizen who filed a complaint in 2004 that horses were being loaded onto double deck trailers at this very same location a year ago with no action being taken against the violator(s) to the best of their knowledge. In February the EPN, and the Large Animal Protection Society, LAPS, partnered to distribute PA Horse Transport Law cards to the public. The EPN is expanding our program of transport law cards to include, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia in an effort to increase awareness and enforcement of these states' laws prohibiting the use of double deck trailers to transport any horse, no matter what its final destination. Organizations and individuals interested can participate in the Horse Transport Law Card distribution by simply creating a link to the cards on the EPN's website:
"The first step was passing the law, now we need to make sure the law is enforced ", stated Christine Berry of the Equine Protection Network."Law enforcement depends on citizen complaints of criminal activity. By providing the public with these cards to be carried in their cars we are providing people with a copy of the law and what to do if they see a double decker in Pennsylvania carrying horses.
For 20 years double deck trailers rolled out of the New Holland and Middleburg, PA horse auctions headed into New York on their way to Canada. Untold thousands of horses were forced with electric cattle prods and whips into the bowels of possum belly double deck trailers in full view of people at these sales and nothing was done to inform the New York State Police, NYSP, of the weekly violations. "When I saw those double deck trailers at New Holland I refused to stand by and allow the law to be violated", stated Christine Berry, "I contacted the NYSP and provided the information on when these trucks were coming into New York and the violators were arrested and successfully prosecuted. We can successfully enforce our Horse Transport Laws, we just need the public to keep their eyes open and call the police when they see a violation." "I don't ever want to hear another double being loaded. In the darkness you may not be able to see what is happening, but you can sure hear it. The sounds of terrified horses being forced into the black interior of the trailer are not easily forgotten. You can hear them crashing, falling, and scrambling up or down the steep interior ramps and then the sounds of horses fighting for position and balance in a trailer with metal floors and ceiling heights so low that when the panicked horses raise their heads they are slammed into the 3" metal I beams supporting the top deck. You can hear their frightened whinnies."
"I loaded enough horses when I worked for a leading commercial horse transportation company to know when a horse is in trouble. What I don't understand is why so many people for 20 years never did anything to enforce the laws that were, and still are on the books making these trailers illegal." Every year horse publications have a trailer issue with articles on horse trailers, their selection, maintenance, use and methods to safely transport your horse. Trailer manufacturers are heavily advertised in these special trailer issues. In the thirty-five plus years I have been in the horse industry I have never seen a double deck trailer described or advertised to transport horses in horse publications or at any horse industry trade shows.
What the Public Can Do
In states where double deck trailers are illegal, the EPN is urging people to be alert for double deck trailers and to download a copy of the PA Horse Transport Law card from our website and carry it in your car and keep another one in your wallet. The cards provide a copy of the law and instructions on what to do if you observe a double deck trailer. If you see a double deck trailer, look inside for horse's ears or tails. It is vital to obtain the license plate of the trailer and then call police to report the violation. The location of the truck and direction it is traveling are important to provide to law enforcement. Carry a disposable camera in your car so you can photograph the truck and the trailer. The EPN is maintaining a record of sightings of double deck trailers in addition to
maintaining arrests and convictions involving this illegal transport
of horses.PA Transport Cards are available for download on the EPN website,
PA's Horse Transport Law, Title 18, 5511(e1) signed into law by Governor Tom Ridge in June of 2001and went into effect in August 2001. It is the strongest law in the United States prohibiting the transport of any horse in a vehicle with more than one level stacked on top of each other. It is often mistakenly reported that PA law is a transportation of horses to slaughter law, or is related to horse slaughter. "Not so," says Berry of the EPN. "PA law applies to all horses, no matter what their final destination." The EPN refused to allow legislation referring to 'slaughter' to pass because as Berry puts it, "there was no way the EPN was going to legitimize horse slaughter by putting legislation on the books that referred to the transport of horses to slaughter." This law is non-discriminatory - it applies to all horses. The language is simple and straightforward making it easy for law enforcement, even those unfamiliar with horses, to enforce the law. We refused to concede and allow vague and unenforceable language such as, "hold their head in a normal upright manner above their withers". Vague language requires expert testimony and invites dueling experts in court resulting in difficulty prosecuting offenders. Shortly after the law was passed in 2001 Sugarcreek Livestock and New Holland Sales Stables were both convicted on 31 counts under the PA Horse Transport Law.
The EPN sponsored the Horse Transport Bill and provided
testimony, video and photographic evidence demonstrating the continued
use of inhumane double deck cattle trailers to transport horses from
PA horse auctions to slaughter for human consumption. The EPN also
provided written support from PA and national horse
organizations for our efforts to pass this legislation. Thousands of
individuals also sent written support of the EPN's efforts to the PA
legislature. The EPN pressed for a law that applied
to ALL horses, not just slaughter bound, ensuring the successful prosecution
of offenders. The EPN supported language that was engineering based,
(specific) instead of performance based language,
According to the United States Department of Agriculture,
USDA, horses frequently sustain injuries due to the steep inclines of
double deck loading ramps and the USDA does not believe
that equines can be safely and humanely transported in trailers with
two levels stacked on top of each other.
Victory in the
House of Representatives! House Votes to Save
Horses, On to the Senate!
"If given the chance tomorrow, Americans would overwhelmingly vote to outlaw horse slaughter. On June 8th, 2005 the United States House of Representatives gave Americans their voice when they overwhelmingly voted 269-158 to prohibit the use of public money for horse slaughter", stated Christine Berry of the Equine Protection Network
The Sweeney-Spratt amendment will remove federal funding for the inspection of horsemeat at the 3
horse slaughterhouses and inspection at the border for horses being exported to
for slaughter. Passage of a companion bill by the Senate and then President Bush's signature would effectively shut down horse slaughter in the United States for one year starting October 1, 2005 the beginning of the fiscal year, until H.R. 503, the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act can be passed.
Congressman Whitfield from
stated, "Today the horse slaughter issue was finally considered in the open, not behind closed doors. The vote was a major victory and shows the overwhelming support in Congress to end this brutal practice. The amazing outpouring of public support helped to make this possible and I thank everyone who supported our efforts today."
The links to the Congressional Record of the House debate can be read on the EPN website.
Thank you to all who have made calls to your Congressman. Now is the time to thank them and urge them to support H.R. 503. Contact your Senators and inform them of your views on horse slaughter. Include the Polls & Facts from our website.
Use our letter as an example to write your own letter:
EPN Letter Urging Support of H.R. 503
You will need Adobe Reader a free plug in that you can download. -
Read the debate to Save Americas Horses on the Floor of the U.S.House from the Congressional Record & learn how your Congressman voted!
The issue of horse slaughter is one of disposal of unwanted horses, just as we do not slaughter unwanted dogs and cats for human consumption, nor should we slaughter American horses for human consumption. The pro slaughter forces often ask, “Who is going to pay for these unwanted horses to be euthanised?” The answer is simple their owners. It is owners’ responsibility to cover the cost of euthanasia and disposal. Just as we cannot use decompression chambers or drowning to dispose of unwanted dogs and cats, it must be illegal to slaughter unwanted horses for human consumption. This issue is not about providing homes for all the unwanted horses, it is about the method of disposal. Slaughter using a 4” nail to the head and throat cutting, versus euthanasia via lethal injection.
• Since 1995 poll after poll show Americans want horse slaughter banned. Horse Slaughter Polls
• As of 5/21/05 33,489 American horses have been slaughtered, including 41 American mustangs. Between 1980 and May 21, 2005, your tax-dollars were used to pay for the USDA inspection of 4,007,645 American horses brutally slaughtered in foreign owned slaughterhouses located in the
. Between 1990 and 2000, 500,000 American horses exported to
for slaughter. Horse Slaughter Stats
• Americans do NOT eat horses. This is a cultural issue and culture shapes our laws.
• Horses are NOT raised, nor are they taxed as food and fiber animals in the U.S. Americans view horses as sport, recreation, and pleasure animals, not their next T-bone steak.
• Products used on our horses have NOT been tested by the FDA for use in horses intended for food. Products used on horses carry the warning label, "Not for use on horses intended for food."
• The largest horse state, & the leading agricultural state in the country,
, made it a felony to slaughter a horse in 1998 when over 60% (5 million) of
voters, ‘Just Said Neigh to Horse Slaughter’. The passage of Prop 6 did NOT change the status of horses from livestock to companion animal, nor did the number of horse abuse cases rise according to Carolyn Stull of UC Davis. Save The Horses Campaign
Disposal options include: Burial, Cremation, Landfill, Rendering, all of which are available to owners in the
. The issue of groundwater contamination is nothing more than a smokescreen thrown up by the pro slaughter forces who want to continue with the Breed 'Em, Trash 'Em, Can 'Em" attitude. As the demand for a service increases, the service industry will rise to meet the demand.
Equine Protection Network and Large Animal Protection Society Team Up to Distribute PA Horse Transport Cards
February 20, 2005
The Equine Protection Network, EPN, and the Large Animal Protection Society, LAPS, have partnered to distribute PA Horse Transport Law cards to the public.
"The first step was passing the law, now we need to make sure the law is enforced ", stated Christine Berry of the Equine Protection Network. "Law enforcement depends on citizen complaints of criminal activity. By providing the public with these cards to be carried in their cars we are providing people with a copy of the law and what to do if they see a double decker in Pennsylvania carrying horses."
PA's Horse Transport Law, Title 18, 5511(e1) signed into law by Governor Tom Ridge in 2001 is the strongest law in the United States prohibiting the transport of any horse in a vehicle with more than one level stacked on top of each other. It is often mistakenly reported that PA law is a transportation of horses to slaughter law, or is related to horse slaughter. "Not so," says Christine Berry of the EPN. "PA law applies to all horses, no matter what their final destination." The language is simple and straightforward making it easy for law enforcement, even those unfamiliar with horses, to enforce the law. No expert witnesses are needed to testify to what is "in a normal upright manner above their withers". Law enforcement does not need to determine the destination of the horses.
The EPN refused to allow legislation referring to 'slaughter' to pass because as Berry puts it ,"there was no way the EPN was going to legitimize horse slaughter by putting legislation on the books that referred to the transport of horses to slaughter."
JoAnne Mauger of the LAPS stated,"For the law to be successful the public must participate."
"We know double deckers are still being used to transport horses in PA as we have received reports of sightings in various parts of the state. We hope by providing these cards to the public these sightings will no longer go unreported to law enforcement.
Shortly after the law was passed in 2001 Sugarcreek Livestock and New Holland Sales Stables were both convicted on 31 counts under the PA Horse Transport Law.
PA Horse Transport Cards will be available at the EPN's booth at the Horse World Expo held at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA, February 25th through February 27, 2005. PA Horse Transport Cards are also available for download on the EPN website. The EPN recommends using cardstock to print the cards. The cards are double sided.
You will need Adobe Reader a free plug in that you can download.
Bill Introduced to Make Transport of Horse to Slaughter Illegal
February 1, 2005
On February 1, 2005, Rep John Sweeney from NY, co-chair of the Congressional Horse Caucus, introduced HR 503 in the 109th Congress which would prevent the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes. HR 503 amends the Horse Protection Act. The bill has 21 co-sponsors as of 2/10/05, including Congressman Pitts from PA.
HoofPAC's Cathleen Doyle, who ran the successful 1998 Save The Horse's Campaign which resulted in the passage of
's Prop 6, making it a felony to slaughter a
horse, consulted with co-sponsor Ed Whitfield from KY last fall when it became obvious that HR 857 was dead. The current language for the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act is a result of that meeting. HR 503 has been referred to the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.
's Prop 6 was supported by the California State Horsemen's Association, the country's largest and oldest state horse association, the racing industry, law enforcement, and other member of the horse industry and received over 61% of the vote.
is significant in that its number one industry is Agriculture and it has the largest horse population in the country. Prop 6 also set a precedent with the strongest (felony) animal protection penalty on the books in the State of
HR 503, unlike HR 857 does not have any provisions for federal funds for horse rescue operations, a point that was opposed by many in the horse industry.
HR 503 has the support of Thoroughbred Racing, and horse and animal welfare organizations. HR 503 is opposed by many state horse councils, the veterinarian organizations and of course the food producing industry that use the slippery slope argument as their basis for opposing the legislation.
The status of this bill can be monitored .
Horses in the
are not raised for food and fiber, nor are they taxed as such. In many states, including 2 of the largest horse states in the country, products purchased for horses, including feed, are subject to sales tax. Horses do not receive the same tax benefits as other food and fiber producing animals.
Nor have any of the products used on horses been tested for food safety withdrawal times. All products carry the warning, "Not intended for use on horses intended for food."
"No American horse-not even our old, lame, slow, untamed, or unwanted ones-should be so cruelly betrayed for 40 pieces of silver..."
HoofPAC, Save The Horses,
Contact your Congressman and ask them to co-sponsor or support HR 503. Contact information can be found in your phonebook in the Government Section under United States Government or online at: Vote Smart
Bill Introduced to Restore Protection to Wild Horses
January 25, 2005
On January 25, 2005, Congressman Nick Rahall of West Virginia introduced H.R. 297 in the United States House of Representatives that if passed restores the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of America's wild horses and burros. Co-sponsor on H.R. 297 is Congressman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky. Bill was referred to the Committee on Resources.
In his speech to the 109th Congress, Rahall stated, "My legislation is necessary because of 36 lines that were hidden away in the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act that overturned more than 30 years of national policy on the protection and management of wild free-roaming horses and burros. This backdoor legislative maneuver, enacted without public notice, will make these animals available to the highest bidder for processing into commercial products."
Rahall proposed other alternatives for controlling wild horse and burro populations, such as adoption, sterilization, relocation, and placement with qualified individuals and organizations. "To suggest that an acceptable solution to a federal agency’s (the Bureau of Land Management, or the controlling agency for the care of the wild horses and burros) management shortcomings is commercial slaughter is an irresponsible approach to our public lands and the wildlife that roam them."
Senator Conrad Burns of Montana added a line to the federal appropriations bill (H.R. 4818) repealing the third section of The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, in which wild horses and burros over the age of 10 years or those that have not been successfully adopted after three adoption attempts could be sold at public auction to the highest bidder, allowing the sale of America's wild horses and burros to be sold to foreign owned slaughter houses.
People should contact their United States House of Representatives urging them to co-sponsor and support this legislation. Contact information can be found in your phonebook in the Government Section under United States Government or online at: Vote Smart
December 20, 2004
Horse Abuser Fined $750.00 in New
On December 20, 2004 in New Holland District Court, Judge Rodney Hartman fined Richard J. Williams of
the maximum fine of $750.00 for offering for sale a sick, lame or debilitated horse in violation of Pennsylvania Law, Title 18, 5511(d). The Large Animal Protection Society, LAPS, filed the charges against Mr. Williams after receiving a complaint from the people who had purchased the horse at New Holland Sale. The 2nd citation for failure to provide necessary vet care was dismissed.
Two equine veterinarians, a LAPS Humane Society Police Officer, a professional horse person, and the Equine Protection Network's Christine Berry testified for the prosecution. The veterinarians determined that the horse, who died three days after being sold through the sale in New Holland, had died of renal failure.
On November 4, 2004 a three year old black and white paint gelding named Buddy, was purchased by Mr. Daniel Deans from Mr. Richard Williams for $179.00 plus tax. Although suffering from severe and chronic laminitis as evidenced by the obviously deformed hoof wall, he was sold through the ring at New Holland illegally. The seller however, wanting to present Buddy with his best foot forward, had painted Buddy’s hooves with Hoof Black. Perhaps he though no one would notice.
In the court case brought by LAPS, two equine veterinarians testified to the horrific condition of the feet and the overuse of anti-inflammatory medication, (NSAIDs) to mask the very painful condition of laminitis. One of the vets in testimony stated, “There is no way this horse would have taken a step without the amount of painkillers in its system.” In the presentation of the necropsy report performed at
the attending veterinarian provided photos of Buddy’s mouth, lips, and soft palate covered in ulcerations, which he laid directly to overuse of anti-inflammatory medication. The vet also presented Buddy’s dissected right front hoof depicting the damage done by chronic, severe, laminitis. The coffin bone was rotated to the point it had pierced his sole and he had rings so deep that his hoof wall was deformed.
Mr. Williams claimed that he purchased the horse in the parking lot the night before, illegal under PA law.
Williams also claimed that since he placed the horse in the “as is pen” and sold the horse, "as is", he was innocent of any wrongdoing. Selling a horse "as is" has nothing to do with the
cruelty law. Selling a horse "as is", simply means the owner is not guaranteeing the horse. Selling a horse “as is” is a fraud issue. Selling a horse sick, lame or debilitated, is a cruelty issue.
The EPN congratulates LAPS for another case well done and applauds District Justice Hartman for once again applying the maximum fine allowed by
Title 18, Section 5511(d) Selling or using disabled horse.--A person commits a summary offense if he offers for sale or sells any horse, which by reason of debility, disease or lameness, or for other cause, could not be worked or used without violating the laws against cruelty to animals, or leads, rides, drives or transports any such horse for any purpose, except that of conveying the horse to the nearest available appropriate facility for its humane keeping or destruction or for medical or surgical treatment.
Title 7 Chapter 5 Animal Markets § 5.9. Transactions from trucks.
Selling, bartering or trading of animals from trucks or other vehicles on animal markets property or along the public highways adjacent to an animal market is a violation of the act of April 17, 1929 (P. L. 533, No. 236) (3 P. S. § § 341351), known as the Diseased Animal Quarantine Law, and is not permitted.
Bush Signs Appropriations Bill , Setting the Stage for Slaughter of America's Wild Horses!
December 7, 2004
December 7th 2004 is a day that will again live in infamy for American horses. First in 2002 it was the signing of the Commercial Transportation of Horse to Slaughter Act which legalized the transport of horses 28 hours with no food, no water, & no rest, and put the very people identified as the abusers, and in many cases convicted of abuse to horses in charge of the horse’s welfare.
Now in 2004 President George W. Bush has removed America’s wild horses of long-standing legal protections that prevented them from being sold off, slaughtered and shipped overseas to meet a foreign demand for horsemeat. Bush signed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill with a rider slipped in by Montana Senator Conrad Burns, (R) that mandates that any excess horse or burro be sold “without limitation” to the highest bidder “if the animal is more than 10 years of age” or “has been offered unsuccessfully for adoption at least 3 times.” According to the Associated Press, the Bush plan, spearheaded by Burns -- longtime proponent for Big Cattle interests -- sets a production goal of up to 20,000 wild horse corpses in the coming year.
At the same time in a macabre joke, Congress declared December 13th "National Day of the Horse" celebrating the horse’s "vital contribution" to our American culture. Congress also stated that horses “deserve protection and compassion.” Lip service to the 10,000 mustangs that are about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder likely destination a foreign owned slaughterhouse via a double deck cattle trailer.
America’s wild horses have been federally protected against slaughter since 1971 when the Wild, Free Roaming Horse & Burro Act was signed into law by then President Richard M. Nixon. According to the Humane Society of the United States, this issue resulted in more mail from an aroused public to Congress than any other issue except Vietnam. Senator Henry Jackson counted 14,000 letters on the subject, 9,000 from children. Velma Johnston, AKA, “Wild Horse Annie” is credited with pushing the legislation through Congress. She was the subject of Marguerite Henry’s children’s book, “Mustang”. One can only think that Wild Horse Annie is rearing & bucking in her grave at Bush’s actions.
America’s wild horses are one of our last remaining symbols of pure freedom, running free on land owned by the American Public, and now President Bush has authorized the mass slaughter of over 10,000 American Mustangs currently in holding pens and thousands more yet to be rounded up, to the delight of the National Cattleman’s Association. The ranchers have detested the wild horses for as long as they have competed with their cattle and sheep for grass and water. In the early 1900’s there were almost 2 million wild horses, by 1971 their numbers had been decimated by hunting and slaughter till less than 1 % were left. Wild Horse Annie described following trucks dripping blood, horses with their eyes shot out, nostrils wired shut so they could not run, roped with ropes attached to heavy tires to slow them down & wear them out so they could be captured & butchered.
The slaughter of the American Bison has been followed by the slaughter of America’s Wild Horses.
According to an article in the Moscow Times,
“The 50,000 remaining wild horses roam on federal land -- land held in common by the American people. Big-time ranchers also use this land to graze millions of their privately owned cattle. Able to buy and sell politicians like so much prime stock, the wealthy ranchers have rigged a long-running sweetheart deal that gives them access to this common pasturage at bargain prices: less than one-tenth of the going market rate for private grazing land. The result is an effective annual subsidy of more than $500 million to some of the richest men in America, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.”
Currently less than 3% of the beef eaten in the United States is from cattle grazed on public lands, at a minimum cost to the taxpayer of $128 million a year according to a 2002 report commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Cattlemen’s argument is that the $50 million spent annually to operate the wild horse program is too much money for wild horses, yet that is just a fraction of what The Cattlemen receive in subsidies. A minute increase in grazing fees could cover the wild horse program for decades. Privately owned cattle outnumber wild horses on federal lands by 50 1.
Action You Can Take!
So what can you do? Call & write your United States Congressmen & your two United States Senators urging them to pass legislation immediately restoring protection to America’s Wild Horses & Free Roaming Burros from slaughter. Urge your families, friends, co-workers & employers to do the same. Join together with your co-workers and urge your employer to send a letter on company letterhead. Contact organizations that you are a member of and urge them to do the same. Please, please, do not waste your time with petitions. Politicians ignore petitions unless it will get them free publicity on T.V. with an innocent child who has labored to collect signatures. Your time & energy is better spent gathering the support of corporations & organizations that contribute to the political machine, as does the National Cattleman’s Association. Politicians listen to those who have donated money to their campaigns.
Remember, next time you consume a product from a member of the National Cattleman's Association, you are helping to fund the destruction of America's Wild Horses.
If you can locate a copy of “America’s Last Wild Horses” by Hope Ryden do so, it is a great source of information on America’s Wild Horses. The 30th Anniversary Edition is available at: http://www.hoperyden.com/
EPN Launches National Billboard Campaign to Save America's Horses
Friedensburg, PA On October 15, 2003 the Equine Protection Network (EPN) kicked off a national horse slaughter awareness campaign in both Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana with billboards proclaiming, “Keep America’s Horses in the Stable and off the Table!” The EPN also has launched a new website, SaveAmericasHorses.com to educate Americans about horse slaughter and to tell Americans how they can Save America’s Horses from becoming an expensive steak dinner for the French, Belgians, and Japanese.
"Research polls show that most Americans are not aware that horses are slaughtered for people to eat, but if given the chance they would overwhelmingly vote to outlaw horse slaughter”, states Christine Berry, founder of the Equine Protection Network, a Schuylkill County, PA based horse welfare organization. “It is our intent to raise awareness of horse slaughter through our billboard campaign. There are horses going to slaughter right now that could have been saved simply if their owners made the responsible decision to humanely euthanise them instead of selling or giving away their unwanted horse," says Berry. The issue is one of culture, not animal rights (as Americans do not eat horsemeat), but no horse is immune from the horrors of the collection, transport, and actual slaughter; this was demonstrated by the fate of 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, who faced the ultimate betrayal in a Japanese slaughterhouse in 2002. More
September 30, 2003
PA Horse Dealer Convicted of Horse Cruelty
Lewis "Dink" Fisher of McVeytown, PA pled guilty to cruelty to horses and failure to maintain records in Kylertown District Court on September 29, 2003. The charges were filed by the PA State Police after an investigation of the Parsonville Horse Auction in Clearfield County, PA. District Justice Rudella fined Fisher $100.00 on each count and $63.00 in court costs for a total of $263.00.
Fisher pled guilty to failure to provide clean and sanitary shelter to two horses that were maintained at the auction barn for a month. The stalls at the auction were filled with manure and mud.
Fisher failed to maintain any records of the animals at the auction as required under PA law. Horses sold through the auction did not receive any backtags and purchasers could not obtain receipts. The PA State Police requested records on two of the horses consigned to the Parsonville Horse Auction and Fisher stated that no such records existed. Fisher later testified under oath at Robert Keilman's hearing for cruelty to horses that no records existed and never had. Keilman was also convicted of cruelty to horses. The Parsonville Horse Auction has since closed and is no longer in operation.
In September of 2002 the EPN was contacted regarding the sale of horses that were either lame or debilitated at the Parsonville Horse Auction in Clearfield County, PA. Lewis "Dink" Fisher operates the auction. The complainants had contacted the local SPCAs, the PA SPCA and the Department of Agriculture all to no avail.
The EPN worked with the complainant and the PA State Police, PSP, on the ensuing investigation at the Parsonville Horse Auction. On October 5, 2002 the EPN attended the Parsonville Horse Auction with the PA State Police. The PSP and the EPN both observed 2 horses that were less than a 3 on the Henneke Body Scoring Condition Chart. One horse was obviously lame behind and the other had diarrhea. Both horses were saddled and in the sale barn.
Title 18 § 5511. Cruelty to animals
(c) Cruelty to animals.--A person commits a summary offense if he wantonly or cruelly illtreats, overloads, beats, otherwise abuses any animal, or neglects any animal as to which he has a duty of care, whether belonging to himself or otherwise, or abandons any animal, or deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, drink, shelter or veterinary care, or access to clean and sanitary shelter which will protect the animal against inclement weather and preserve the animal's body heat and keep it dry. This subsection shall not apply to activity undertaken in normal agricultural operation.