☛ The evolving horse industry 9-2-15
THE EVOLVING HORSE INDUSTRY
INCLUDING HORSE ABUSE, HORSE NON PROFITS AND HORSE SLAUGHTER
By Rick Dennis
Sept. 2, 2015
In recent years the horse industry has undergone significant changes. Some members have viewed these changes as good and some have viewed them as bad. However, the significant aspect of change is identified and voiced by the dichotomy of the membership. Moreover, meaningful conversation, separate ideologies and intentions are the economic engines that drive change in any industry. Overall as debaters, whether we agree or disagree, we should all strive to have meaningful conversations about certain topics and always, “agree to disagree!”
A topic that has dominated the horse industry in 2015 relates to the abuse of the beloved horse. The year 2015 has seen an ever-increasing number of individuals being arrested, prosecuted, convicted and receiving jail sentences for heinous animal-abuse crimes involving the horse. The United States Justice Department has entered into the animal abuse foray with criminal indictments by a Grand Jury. The most notable case involves the Thoroughbred Racing Industry in Pennsylvania and involves the pre-race doping of horses competing on the racetrack. In this ongoing, high-profile criminal investigation, Federal Prosecutors have devised a method to indict offenders suspected of violating racing drug policies using wire or mail fraud along with other law violations as the catalysts for such indictments.
Wire or mail fraud are eligible indictment options due to the fact that purse money is transferred either electronically (wire fraud) or by mail (mail fraud). As a former Drug Enforcement Special Agent, I used this same criteria to dismantle drug cartels and indict, prosecute, convict and imprison individuals violating Federal and State drug laws. In my opinion, the inclusion of this type of criminal prosecutorial activity is a clear signal that the U.S. Department of Justice is exploring their prosecutorial powers to broaden their scope of authority in certain elements of the horse industry. Those convicted of such criminal activity under Federal Statues are certainly facing a host of adverse consequences such as lengthy prison sentences, fines, penalties, enormous legal fees and court costs not to mention suspension or complete revocation of licenses.
In the Pennsylvania case, four trainers and four veterinarians have been indicted. The four veterinarians have already plead guilty. The case is still an ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI. Another interesting aspect of these animal abuse cases involves the seizure of owner stock. Today, abused horses are being seized by the court more than ever before, with the owners having the option of paying for the care of the horses while awaiting trial or relinquishing ownership to the court. However, as in the Sherri Brunzel case, a conviction usually brings with it a forfeiture of all horses and paid proceeds after trial and conviction.
I witnessed this same type of Federal intrusion in the late 1980s when the Feds required all private drug-testing organizations to submit annual reports of individual drug-testing results of private sector employees and participants. The reports were not name inclusive for privacy law reasons but did include categories such as number of tests by category, number of individuals tested, job description of individuals tested and test results; for example, number of positives, number of negatives and category of drugs in positive tests.
From the initial onset of Federal involvement, certain sections of private industry soon evolved into the complete federalization of private-sector drug testing under the Department of Transportation 49, CFR, Part 40 moniker, including rules, regulations and reporting procedures.
In my opinion, it’s quite possible for the equine industry to possibly see the same standardization of equine drug testing under a federal mandate simply due to the betting and purse money awards for participation and driven by the manner prize money is transmitted – electronically or by mail as in the Pennsylvania case.
Click for FBI enters equine drug war>>
Click for Sherri Brunzell sentencing>>
JANUARY 2016 BRINGS BROAD ANIMAL ABUSE CLASSIFICATIONS
Effective January 2016, the FBI rules and regulations of how abuse cases are classified and reported go into effect. Essentially, all animal abuse cases will be reported in a felony classification manner indicative of other felony classifications already in existence.
From an economic impact point of view, the year 2015 has also become problematic for the big-name nonprofits such as AQHA, NRCHA, NRHA and NCHA. A downturn in the horse industry has forced these large organizations to rethink their operating budgets and methods of operation. A leaner, more streamlined and efficient operating organization is on the horizon. The organization producing the most changes is the American Quarter Horse Association. This year members have witnessed a regime change, as well as broad changes throughout the nomenclature of the organization, including rule changes.
AQHA has broadened its focus on ensuring the organization is in full compliance with its mission statement: “To ensure the American Quarter Horse is treated humanely, with dignity, respect and compassion at all times.”
A recent publication distributed by AQHA announced a complete dissolution and restructuring of their AQHA Stewards program. This announcement, by AQHA and Alex Ross, provides a brief “statement of intent” by this organization to greatly enhance its objective to protect the American Quarter Horse.
However, at the end of the article the reader will understand that AQHA is still promoting their horse-slaughter agenda, including supporting legislation to ensure the safe and humane transportation of horses that are bound for processing facilities and backed guidelines for how horses must be treated at the slaughter facilities. Since horse-processing plants are located outside the continental United States, I wonder exactly how AQHA is going to ensure these supported humane practices are being adhered to?
Click for AQHA restructuring steward program>>
Since the reintroduction of the SAFE ACT, in 2015, proponents on both sides of the aisle have been vigorously involved in this debate. One fact is sure: the U.S. has an overpopulation of horses with more and more being bred every year. However, the problem is not resigned to just one particular category of the horse industry. It’s an industry problem. Actually, the issue can be split into two categories: the wild mustangs and burros and the rest of the horse industry. Statistical data has already proven that wild mustangs and burros suffer from the intrusion of cattle production on public Bureau of Land Management property that provides a huge loss for the American taxpayer.
Statistical data clearly illustrates the Bureau of Land Management’s annual tab for the American taxpayer is around $500 million dollars annually with another $80 million for predator control and removal. A simple analogy could be “give me a subsidy check each month so I can continue to gobble up more public land for my cattle and the American taxpayer is paying the bill.” The reality of the issue is that public land grazing is minuscule in relation to overall beef production in the U.S. but the havoc they impose on wildlife is catastrophic. The end result for a lot of mustangs and burros is the Kill Pen!
For a large part the rest of the industry is producing unwanted horses due to the economic downturn in the industry and the U.S. Horses have become an unaffordable luxury for some folks, period. Horse rescues are receiving more and more horses, sometimes on a daily basis. But the industry is still breeding more and more horses every year. In my opinion, this ”kill-more-breed-more” mentality is an illogical approach to the issue. Certainly, everyone should have the right to dispose of his or her horse in any manner deemed legal by law. On the other hand, what we’re seeing in the U.S. right now are the same issues of our European neighbors: contaminated horsemeat, or horsemeat in general, infiltrating the U.S. food source market. Whichever the way these issues work out the industry is certainly evolving in 2015.
Click for Horsemeat in US Products>>
Click for Bureau of Land Management statistics>>
Click for Sustainable Cowboys or Welfare Rancher>>
“Until Next Time, Keep Em Between The Bridle!”
Copyright 2015, all rights reserved, Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
WIND RIVER COMPANY LLC
Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
Web Site: www.windrivercompanyllc.com