Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Perfect Time to End the Slaughter of American Horses

Editorial Release

September 1, 2010

The Perfect Time to End the Slaughter of American Horses

At the moment, the news is rife with stories about the level of equine neglect in the United States, with many of the articles blaming the "unintended consequences" of closing the US horse slaughter plants and calling for them to be reopened. But in reality, we are coming up on a once in a lifetime opportunity to get rid of this abominable practice once and for all. To understand this apparent paradox, one needs to get past unsubstantiated myths to the real forces at play in the market.

First, one needs to understand that it is completely impossible to blame the current glut of excess horses on the closing of the slaughter plants because the closings simply sent the horses over the Mexican and Canadian borders for slaughter. In 2006, the year before the closings, 142,740 American horses were slaughtered, and that number only dropped by 14% the year the plants were closed. By 2008, slaughter was back to the second highest level in almost ten years.

Next, it is necessary to understand what really causes neglect, and that is unemployment. After years of studying the relationship between neglect rates and slaughter volumes, I had concluded that there was no relationship whatever. Then I looked at the rates of neglect in Illinois in comparison with unemployment in the state. The correlation was striking.

Like most such revelations, it should have been expected, but it was still striking. It perfectly explains the mystery of how the number of American horses slaughtered in the US between 1989 and 2002 could have dropped from 377,078 to 77,713 (almost 80%) with no negative impact on either neglect or horse prices.

This correlation also tells us what we can expect as unemployment goes both up and down. At the moment the US is experiencing high unemployment with national rates hovering just under 10%. As predicted from the above graph, this is causing a high rate of neglect.

So why can I say with complete confidence that we are coming up on the perfect opportunity to end slaughter without significantly impacting the horse market?

There is a second factor at work. As the market for horses remains depressed, many breeders are throwing in the proverbial towel. Every day brood mares and stallions are being sold at auction and on internet sites like Craig's List. This is temporarily increasing the supply and further depressing prices.

The result of this further depression in prices is to convince even more breeders to quit producing. Statistics show breeding is down dramatically in virtually all breeds. The Jockey Club, for example, recently predicted the 2011 foal crop will be the lowest since 1973. Similarly, the American Quarter Horse Association's annual reports shows a 15% drop in revenue for new registrations between 2006 and 2009.

This trend will continue until the economy begins to recover significantly, or the market eventually reaches a new balance. Slaughter cannot help reduce the over supply of horses because the horse meat market is also depressed. Although the export of US slaughter horses in 2008 brought the annual slaughter back its level before the plant closures, the subsequent recession caused a 25.8% drop in exports between 2008 and 2009. The reduction in demand for slaughter horses will likely continue as the effects of new EU drug residue regulations begin forcing horses to be quarantined for 6 months prior to slaughter.

But these two trends are about to merge and provide a wonderful opportunity to end slaughter with little or no impact on the market. As the smaller foal crops reach market age, there will be a reduction supply, and when the economy finally begins to recover, it will bring with it more carrying capacity (demand) for horses. With less supply and more homes available, the number of surplus horses will dip to a record low.

Moreover, there will be a move toward quality. In a recent interview, a struggling breeder in Canada complained she had to sell her horses to slaughter because the market was so low, but in the very next sentence she explained "You have to breed 100 horses to get two good ones." Clearly that business model has been a big part of the problem that gotten us to this point, but few "lotto breeders" appear to be surviving the current market.

Only a deep and prolonged recession could have brought us this opportunity and we have certainly been experiencing just that. It would be a tremendous shame if we missed this coming opportunity. Recent auction reports indicate that prices are already beginning to increase.

What is needed is for congress to pass HR 503 / S 727, banning the slaughter and export to slaughter of American horses. This action could be placed in abeyance until a trigger was reached of unemployment dropping significantly (perhaps under 8%). The result would be a smooth transition to a much more humane equine industry.

Horse slaughter is not a "necessary evil", merely an evil. Now is our opportunity to resign this practice to the dust bin of American history.

John Holland is a freelance writer, the author of three books and an industrial consultant in the field of intelligent automation and knowledge engineering. He frequently writes on the subject of horse slaughter from his small farm in the mountains of Virginia, where he lives with his wife, Sheilah, and their 12 equines. Holland is president of the Equine Welfare Alliance and serves as senior analyst for Americans Against Horse Slaughter, an organization composed entirely of volunteers.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

From the Cloud Foundation

Tuscarora Roundup- NE Nevada

July 22, Tuscarora update:

The death toll has risen to at least 21 horses as the BLM completed their goal of near complete removal of the Owyhee Herd- 638 horses were removed and it is unknown how many remain on the range. A lawsuit filed by Laura Leigh continues with recent filings for BLM's contempt of court. Federal Judge Hicks did rule that the BLM must open the public lands and allow observation of the roundup by plaintiff Leigh and all others interested. Despite this court ruling the BLM initially denied members of the public access, would not disclose to Leigh where the trap site was located and continues to bar observation at the roundup trap site until today and Saturday when public observation days are planned. The BLM stated in court that there were no cattle on the horses' range when in fact there are and this has been documented, as well water in water holes and many fences. You can read more in our frequent press releases - online here. The BLM has now opened the public lands of the Owyhee Complex herd management areas and Leigh and others observing are safe and will continue to document the horses and the area. Please disregard rumors that circulate in this heated time and understand that Leigh, The Cloud Foundation and others are doing all we can. . Thank you for your support during this time and help in preserving, protecting and celebrating all of our American wild horses and burros.

Action Alert- please help support "Herd-Watch" (public eyes for public horses) with your donations and support- click here to learn more and help. You can also learn more about signing up to be a part of Herd-Watch. Remember, your donations are 100% tax deductible and help keep gas in the tank.
The legal actions of Leigh are being supported by
BLM is posting updates on the horses here as death toll continues to rise.

Please call Secretary Salazar and your Representative and Senators and demand that they stop the tax-payer funded disaster in Tuscarora before more mustangs are killed.
Phone: 202-208-3100 Fax: 202-208-6956 E-Mail: (send free online faxes via

It's Time to Put the Pressure On, Again!

The Horses Need Us NOW!!

Americans Against Horse Slaughter Philadelphia, PA

For Immediate Release July 23, 2010

Americans Against Horse Slaughter And WFLF/Humanion Films Call On All Americans To Step Up Efforts To End Horse Slaughter Powerful Policy Makers join Film as speakers and cast in Humanion Film’s “Saving America’s Horses – A Nation Betrayed” Congressmen Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, House Representative Dan Burton of Indiana and Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana have all joined the film, Saving America’s Horses. Producers Katia Louise and Debra Lopez have recently interviewed these powerful policy makers for the film about their thoughts and positions regarding pending bills that would protect America’s equines from slaughter and protect our wild horses. Check out WFLF Humanion Films’ new “Action to End Horse Slaughter” preview clip which includes exclusive statements by these powerful policy makers. Special appearances in this preview additionally include Tippi Hedren of the Roar Foundation and Neda DeMayo of Return to Freedom. This special pre-release preview clears the air on misinformation that has been circulated by pro slaughter proponents. Learn more about what you can do to help end this barbaric practice without further delay. How You Can Help Please Contact The Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (Vermont) and all the Senate Judiciary Committee Members (see list below) and ask them to move S727 out of committee and on to the floor for a vote to pass The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act. Next, contact the House Judiciary Subcommittee Members and ask them to move HR503 out of committee and onto the floor for a vote. Members: You can also contact your U.S. representative and your two U.S. Senators and urge him or her to vote YES on the anti horse slaughter bill by calling the Captiol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 Step up your efforts! Watch the all new exclusive “Action to End Horse Slaughter” preview clip from “SAVING AMERICA’S HORSES – A NATION BETRAYED” HERE!

Senate Judiciary Committee Members
1. Patrick J. Leahy Vermont #(202) 224-4242
2. Herb Kohl Wisconsin #(202) 224-5653 Fax(202) 224-9787
3. Dianne Feinstein California #(202) 224-3841 Fax:(202) 228-3954
4. Russ Feingold Wisconsin #(202)-224-5323
5. Arlen Specter Pennsylvania #202-224-4254 Fax:(202)-228-1229
6. Chuck Schumer New York #202-224-6542 Fax:(202)-228-3027
7. Dick Durbin Illinois #(202) 224-2152 Fax:(202)-228-0400
8. Benjamin L. Cardin Maryland #202-224-4524 Fax:(202)-224-1651
9. Sheldon Whitehouse Rhode Island#202-224-2921 Fax:(202)-228-6362
10. Amy Klobuchar Minnesota #202-224-3244 Fax:(202)-228-2186
11. Ted Kaufman Delaware #(202) 224-5042 Fax:(202) 228-3075
12. Al Franken Minnesota #(202) 224-5641
13. Jeff Sessions Alabama #(202) 224-4124
14. Orrin G. Hatch Utah #(202) 224-5251 Fax: (202)224-6331
15. Chuck Grassley Iowa #(202) 224-3744 Fax:(202) 224-6020
16. Jon Kyl Arizona #(202) 224-4521 Fax:(202) 224-2207
17. Lindsey Graham South Carolina #(202) 224-5972
18. John Cornyn Texas #(202)-224-2934 Fax: (202)-228-2856
19. Tom Coburn Oklahoma #(202)-224-5754 Fax:(202)-224-6008