For the Livestock Industry
A SAFE “ACT” Hearing Held By Congress, Scapegoating Wild Horses
SAFE Act Update
Citizens Against Equine Slaughter
30 January 2020
Today the ~ 5-year-old SAFE ACT currently called H.R. 961 along with 9 other bills all at once were discussed in a so-called hearing of the Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. . . and what a sham it was making a mockery of 224 co-signers, 80% of the American people, and their representational democracy.
Enter the now-infamous player, the ASPCA, of the recent ASPCA et al. massive wild horse round-up plan, to “defend” the SAFE ACT, oh so earnestly as a faithful yet uncredentialed pawn. While the opponents brought in their expert witness a veterinarian ready to professionally hand wave away, anything the non-credentialed stated, and that he did, poorly, but it didn’t matter, the deck was stacked.
The SAFE ACT was introduced by Representative Janice D. Schakowsky of Illinois. She and the Chair understood and led “the dance” There was very little time for any party to provide a defense as mismatched opponents testified, with scientists being the only ones given credence and all the bills heard at once in a livestock soup.
Testimony was given by Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President, Government Relations, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and opposition by Douglas Corey, D.V.M., from the Unwanted Horse Coalition and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. (Ms. Perry gives her testimony a 2:53:30 in the Hearing video, with Dr. Corey following directly after)
The biggest ‘planned mistake’ made by Representative Schakowsky was in not having someone there to testify in support of the bill who had a veterinary degree or a medical-scientific degree. Her ‘expert’ Ms. Perry quoted a professionally PEER reviewed article, however, the Chair condescendingly side slammed her for daring to rebut the veterinarian’s governmental (GAO) report to Congress as “anecdotal” or without actual or sufficient data.
While Ms. Perry did not appear to have brought along proof of what she asserted, there wouldn’t have been time anyway in this mixed up livestock soup called a “hearing”.
When opening remarks were made from the subcommittee members. The only reference to the SAFE Act among all the other bills introduced was from Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, who didn’t name the bill but rather discussed other bills and then said he was concerned that “other” bills to be discussed would have some “unintended consequences.”
Glaringly, SAFE ACT “Co-signer” Representative Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico a member of this Health sub-committee was a NO-SHOW. Certainly, he apparently had something else way more important?
However, Congressman Walden showed up to put the nail in their coffin!
He has been a long time political puppet for the livestock industry especially in his district in eastern Oregon. Passing bills like the Steens Mountain Act of 2000 which made some extremely lopsided land trades and created an advisory council for public lands management that has its own pile of legal gray-area issues. However, it was abundantly clear that the almost under-the breath comment made at the end of his remarks (“unintended consequences”) was directed toward the SAFE Act.
For years now the argument used to fight the SAFE Act is that if we close the borders to slaughter, meaning that American horses could not be shipped across the border to be slaughtered for human consumption, there would be a problem with where “unwanted horses” would go leading to an increase of neglected, abandoned or dumped horses. This is the unintended consequence Representative Walden of Oregon feigned without basis, to put the nail in their coffins.
Ms. Perry and Dr. Corey testified further during the second portion of the hearing today. Ms. Perry spoke about the dangers of chemicals routinely given to horses in the United States that are banned for use in animals raised for human consumption. She spoke specifically about phenylbutazone(bute), a drug that is never for use in food animals, never leaves the tissues and one that the FDA has found and acted on when discovered in meat intended for human consumption in the US.
Ms. Perry stated that slaughter is not humane euthanasia.
Dr. Corey DVM, stated that slaughter is humane euthanasia.
However he said it as a Veterinarian, though it is not.
But you see the dynamic.
Slaughter is done for food only and that involves cruel methods that were never designed for a horse and are often ineffective creating a more horrifying end for the animal. The other, euthanasia, is done to provide a painless end of life because the horse is ill or in such pain that death is imminent or the kindest thing to do.
Slaughter – the killing of animals for food.
Euthanasia – the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.
Then Dr. Corey erroneously testified that the chemical safety issue was negated by time. He explained this by claiming it would no longer be an issue because once horses are shipped to Canada or Mexico to be slaughtered the country would hold the animals for 6 months, and then tested for drug residues to ensure the chemicals were no longer in the tissues. This was incorrect for 2 reasons; 1. Mexico has no such hold on horses entering from the United States, and 2. Some chemicals such as bute, never leave the tissues. Remember, once the European Union (EU) stopped buying horse meat from Mexico, he was not able to support his claims.
Dr. Corey stated that since the ban on US slaughter there has been an increase in the number of investigations for neglected animals, and dumped or abandoned animals. What he didn’t say but Ms. Perry did point out is that the timing of the GAO report he was quoting was begun the same time the United States entered a recession. Therefore there is no data that confirms the end of slaughter in the US had anything to do with the increase in investigations, or abandonment.
ENTER WILD HORSES!
The telling, and perhaps most alarming, turn in the hearing was an awkward segway created by Congressman Griffith of VA who is opposed to the bill. He found a way to bring the plight of American wild horses into the situation. By stating that in his area of VA there used to be a saying that when you take your livestock to sale you had better lock-up your hauler because otherwise you get done selling your animals and go back to find someone dumped a load of unwanted horses in it. ( hearsay) This was at approximately 4:07:30 in the video. Dr. Corey replied with further hearsay: “Actually in the west we found that to be true and I’ve talked to several state veterinarians that have indicated that horses were abandoned and turned out in the wild with the wild roaming horses and that is a fact.”
Later Congressman Griffith got a second round of questions (approx 4:19:00 in the video) for the panel and went back to the SAFE Act bill saying:
“Dr. Corey you mentioned retirement homes for horses. That’s a term I’ve often used. We’re spending more than 80 million a year on retirement homes horses. There are not enough families out there who want to adopt, or enough facilities to adopt, which is why we have approximately 50 thousand horses from federal lands now in what I call retirement homes.
Shame on you Representative Griffith. These are factually false statements, and you have at a minimum, not done your homework on a bill before you, or a budget you voted to pass for the BLM to manage wild horses.
First of all the 80 million dollar budget BLM is appropriated for wild horses and burro management is not spent entirely on warehousing wild horses. And if the agency would manage them on the range using more feasible methods of population control, there would be very little needed to warehouse horses, because it would be rare any would have to be removed from the range.
Secondly, it is illegal for federal agencies managing wild horses, such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or the Forest Service (FS) to ship wild horses or sell wild horses to a person known to ship them to slaughter. So this is never a legal avenue to deal with the people’s wild horses in holding that were removed from our public lands.
And finally, CAES has just this month, filed lawsuit alleging wild horses from the holding facility in Oregon are missing (numbering in the hundreds). The case was based on documentation provided by a Freedom of Information Act request, and BLM lying about how many were in holding, when 4 of our members went and physically counted horses and compared tag no.s at the facility.
Did Representative Griffith and Dr. Corey just confirm our fears that our wild horses removed are being illegally slid out the back door to slaughter?
In their own words? Basically, YES.
The case we filed is against those BLM employees at a federal facility in Oregon, in Congressman Walden’s district. Is he blocking this bill knowing the horses warehoused at a federal facility in his district would no longer be able to be snuck out and shipped off to slaughter?
We also noted, at the end of the Hearing a list of letters read, (many look good players) in support or opposition of various bills, revealed that:
A letter was sent to Vice President Pence from an organization
based in eastern Oregon called Protect the Harvest strong supporters of horse slaughter and wild mare, experimental ovariectomies..
It is important to note here that Forest Lucas, owner of Lucas Oil and founder of Protect the Harvest is a personal friend of Vice President Pence. Previously they have collaborated in the case of a father and son ranching family who were jailed for arson on public lands in eastern Oregon. VP Pence and Mr Lucas secured a pardon by President Trump for the Hammond’s. That came after the Hammond jail sentence to meet the minimum sentence was rallied against sparking an armed srtand-off in eastern Oregon. That stand-off was led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy (sons of Cliven) who are well-known anti-federal government, cowboys who believe public lands should not be managed by the federal government. The stand-off was staged after the armed group took over a federal building in a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon.
Protect the Harvest is also one of the leading organizations promoting the surgical experiments to perform wild mare sterilizations. When BLM was stopped by CAES from doing these experiments, the BLM colluded with Protect the Harvest to have members of the organization purchase horses from the BLM and do experiments on them which circumvented the AWA regulations for experimenting on wildlife because once a wild horse is purchased they lost their wild status and become legally labelled as livestock, thus following livestock laws for the procedures which are much less protective for the animal. Has Protect the Harvest done any scientific studies on the chemicals in spayed mares that are sent to slaughter for human consumption? Our lawsuit against the spays discussed the use of chemicals that would present a health hazard to animals who prey on wild horses and ingest the meat. So Protect the Harvest cannot say they support slaughter, and at the same time send animals that are full of toxic chemicals, including ones from these surgical experiments that are known to be dangerous for any consumer of the meat.
We have long had a problem with co-signers of this bill not taking any action to move the bill forward. Simply adding your name, and getting kudos, is not enough, the horses need them to make a commitment and represent us on that commitment, not just make a look good choreographed moove.