Today I received the newsletter from The International Society for the Protection of Mustangs & Burros (ISPMB). Yes, quite a mouthful and this wonderful group owes its beginnings to "Wild Horse Annie" who in 1971 campaigned to have Congress pass the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act which was suppose to protect these wonderful free spirits who roam and run wild in the open spaces of the West.
Herd of wild horses
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I can always recall how Velma Bronn Johnston was led to this crusade after following a trailer dripping blood from some of the trampled horses packed tightly within the trailer in intolerably cruel conditions for who knows for how long. When I think of her, my eyes sometimes well up in appreciation because she is truly one of the rare people whom I will always admire for her compassion and her resolve to do something about this travesty.
The first article of the newsletter read- "Will the Brutal Deaths of 1,794 Wild Horses Be in Vain?" I knew about this happening before- but I am so glad that it was now being laid before us again -- to make us think, to make us angry, and hopefully to make us do something about the deaths of OUR 1,794 horses. They belonged to all of us, and what happened to
them was wrong and despicable.
In 2012 Ken Salazar was the Secretary of the Interior. In my opinion -not a man of compassion by most standards. He allowed his "friend" Tom Davis to buy 1,794 wild horses through intermediaries for slaughter in Mexico. Sadly, I have read that horse slaughter is cruel wherever it is done because of their size, but I've been told that the slaughtering practices in Mexico are especially cruel.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had sold the horses to Davis and claimed that there had been no problem in doing so. They also denied that there was a relationship between Secretary Salazar and Mr. Davis- even though Mr. Davis did work on the Salazar ranch per reports.
It was good to read today that the case was finally turned over to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in July, 2015 with a report following on October 23, 2015. Davis admitted that the horses he paid $10 for each were sold for slaughter. He also admitted that he knew that he should not have sold them to anyone who would sell them for slaughter.
Davis exonerated the BLM by stating that the BLM was not aware of what he was doing. If true, it was kind of surprising to me that the BLM didn't even ask the buyer what his purpose was in purchasing such a large number of horses. Either they were incredibly stupid or decided to turn
a blind eye on what they knew would probably happen. The second largest buyer bought 325 animals. I wonder what happened to them as well.
The BLM has since instituted a policy which only allows persons to adopt 4 horses within a six month period. Though the OIG referred the investigation to the District of CO as well as the State of CO Conejos County District Attorney's Office --sadly both departments declined criminal and civil prosecution. It is obvious to me that the wild horses had no friends in these places where justice is supposed to be meted out to both humans and animals.
But there is hope because someone in Congress cares. On November 10, 2015 -Representative Vern Buchanan (R-16th district FL) sent a letter to Secretary Jewell "demanding to know how these horses ended up in Mexico, slaughtered in violation of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act."
Now here is a congressman I applaud. Clearly, what happened to our horses was a violation of a congressional act and the BLM was complicit in handling this shady and cruel deal. While the congressman's words didn't address the cruelty which befell these poor horses, he did make important points re this deal between the BLM and Tom Davis. He said: "I am also troubled that, as part of this illegal sale, $149, 000 of taxpayer money was used to transport horses to the buyer. Moreover, the sale by BLM helped the buyer earn more than $150,000 in profits from selling the horses for slaughter. These are funds that properly belong to the American
public." (I want no part of this blood money. Yes, of course, I know he meant that it be used in the US Treasury.)
More good news. On December 7, 2015- Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA) and Michelle Grisham (D-NM) sent a letter to US Attorney Loretta Lynch at the Department of Justice seeking criminal action against the BLM and Tom Davis.
For those of us who want to see justice for OUR 1,794 horses who were slaughtered to enrich the pockets of Tom Davis, we hope and pray that justice will prevail. But to help this matter along, the president of ISPMB , Karen Susman, has asked us to contact our congress people to ask
the Attorney General, Ms. Lynch, to open an independent investigation of this crime against America's wild horses. Yes, I will ask two of my three Ohio legislators to do this. The third legislator could care less as he as never responded to any of my requests for concern re suffering animals.