Cape teen rescues beloved horse from slaughterhouse

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Cape Cod Times |Gwenn Friss | April 14, 2013

 

Brittany Wallace, 17, attends to her horse Scribbles at her home in Harwich. Brittany had lost track of Scribbles, her childhood companion, but found a photo of her on a website hours before the horse was to be shipped off to be killed and sold for human consumption. Cape Cod Times/Merrily Cassidy

Brittany Wallace, 17, attends to her horse Scribbles at her home in Harwich. Brittany had lost track of Scribbles, her childhood companion, but found a photo of her on a website hours before the horse was to be shipped off to be killed and sold for human consumption.
Cape Cod Times/Merrily Cassidy

A Harwich teenager and the horse she grew up with have become a leading face of the latest national effort to ban slaughtering horses and exporting them for meat.

In a one-in-a-million happenstance, Brittany Wallace found her childhood companion, Scribbles, hours before the mare was to be shipped to Mexico or Canada to be killed and eaten.

Last month, Brittany testified in the U.S. Senate, telling the story of how her 17-year-old pet — born five days before she was — became lost and, in the nick of time, saved.

In an interview last week, Brittany said of transporting horses for slaughter, “It’s honestly America’s dirty little secret. … It’s happening every day, and unless we step up and do something, it’s not going to stop.”

The story of Brittany and Scribbles’ reunion begins at 6 a.m. Nov. 13, and reads like a novel.

The Wallace family was awake early, comforting their much-loved dog, Kona, who was dying of kidney failure. Brittany went online to research a paper she was writing on horse slaughter. She saw a brown mare with a grisly leg wound on the Facebook page of Omega Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation in Pennsylvania, a nonprofit organization.

“I saw a picture of her head and I saw her eyes,” Brittany said. “I told my mom, ‘I think I found Scribbles.'”

Brown mares are as common as mud. Omega’s founder, Kelly Smith, thought the Wallaces were another family carried away by wishful thinking. But she agreed to look for the scar they said would be on the horse’s backside.

“I thought there’s absolutely no way this is remotely possible. When you have a brown horse, there are just so many of them, maybe 200 to 300 a week. What are the chances? But I picked up the tail the next day and saw a half of a horseshoe scar, just as they had described. There were tears on both ends of the phone,” Smith said.

Brittany’s parents, Scott and Kay Wallace, said the family bought Scribbles for their daughter when she was 8½. “When she was a little girl, she would lay down in the paddock with Scribbles and a book. She and Brittany grew up together,” Scott Wallace said.

With all the passion of a little girl with her own horse, Brittany taught Scribbles to bow, extending one leg and lowering her front half.

“I’ve reunited racehorses with their owners because racehorses have a tattoo on their lip. But I’ve never reunited a horse that had no visible (obvious) markings,” Smith said in a telephone interview from Pennsylvania.

‘It was incredible’

Scribbles at the horse sale where she was purchased by Kelly Smith.

Scribbles at the horse sale where she was purchased by Kelly Smith.

As the story circulated, via social media and a Pennsylvania newspaper, there were skeptics. One man called Smith a liar and accused her of working for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

But Smith was there the December night the Wallaces came to collect Scribbles.

“The horse knew them instantly. She knew her family. When Brittany went in the stall, (Scribbles) just started bowing and bowing and bowing. She went on and on. In all my years of dealing with horses, I have never witnessed what I saw that night. It was incredible,” Smith said.

“I do believe things happen for a greater good. A horse who nearly lost her life brought a whole new awareness that sometimes people’s horses are wanted; not all (horses in the kill pens) are old and ready to go to slaughter. Look at all the good that has come from this one situation.”

The Humane Society of the United States used part of Brittany’s March 12 testimony in a YouTube video, which urges passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to prohibit horse slaughter in the U.S. and end the export of more than 150,000 American horses a year that are slaughtered as food for human consumption. The bill was introduced this year in the Senate by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. A similar bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

“We have made ending the slaughter of America’s horses for human consumption one of our top priorities,” Keith Dane, the society’s director of equine protection, said in a written statement. “Americans don’t eat horses, and 80 percent of voters strongly oppose slaughtering horses for their meat. That’s because American horses are our trusted companions and partners in recreation, work and sport — not dinner.”

The Wallaces said they sold Scribbles to another Cape farm after Brittany, now 17, got older and started riding more competitively. But the family retained the right of first refusal, meaning they could buy Scribbles back if they didn’t approve of anyone else trying to buy her. They visited for a couple of years, but found the horse gone one day. Kay Wallace said no one could explain where she was.

The Wallace family had actually adopted another horse from the feedlot at New Holland, Pa., never dreaming they would one day find their brown mare there.

CONTINUED – and to COMMENT

 – Also read the York Daily Record story about Scribbles and Brittany

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
32 Comments
  • Daryl

    so glad you found her in the nick of time, it is horrible the wya these horses go to slaughter. and some for no good reason what so ever. I love happy endings and you got one of the best.

    April 14, 2013
  • BlessUsAll

    What an incredibly heart-happifying tale!

    The York Daily Record article, cited at the bottom of this blog, is especially worth reading; thanks for providing the link, Jerry!

    Who would’ve known that the scar, which Brittany once called Scribbles “only flaw,” would become, rather than a fatal flaw, the very mark that saved her horse from the fatality of slaughter. Would that be called a blessing in disguise? 🙂

    April 14, 2013
    • Amy Roth

      It’s a called a Blessing and God has put His hands upon them and reunited them because they ARE family.

      April 14, 2013
      • Lesli

        I am sorry but your comment really made me sad. How can your god be instrumental in bringing this family back together and not for ripping apart all the others who never find their way back together. This was amazing human intervention, lead by a girl’s love of her horse. Don’t take her hard work and future endeavors away from her by saying ‘god’ had anything to do with it.

        April 15, 2013
        • Lisa

          Agree wholeheartedly Lesli.

          April 15, 2013
  • Barbara Teare

    Great story. Wish mine had had such a happy ending. I “free-leased” my morgan horse Blackjack to my farrier temporarily for his kids to ride when I got short on barn space. I visited the horse several times in the first few months, then had a serious illness in the family that took my time and attention. I was not at the barn the next time the farrier came, so did not see him for about 3 months. When he arrived to shoe my remaining horses I inquired about Blackjack, and learned that he had taken the horse to a sale barn and sold him to the packers for $100 because his kids had quit riding him and he wanted to get back the money he had spent for feed. By that time the horse was long gone, he did not even have (or would not give me) the name of the sale barn or the buyer. I called the sheriff and there was nothing they could do because I had willingly entrusted my horse to this man, and there was no paperwork. This was back in about 1993. I am still sick about it. The farrier turned out to have some criminal activities going on, and was shot and killed by another low-life. As far as I am concerned, that was too good an ending for him.

    April 14, 2013
    • Debra Gordon

      Barbara, I’m so sorry for your loss! I can only hope the horses we free leased from an organization that did trail rides, found the horses homes when they became too old. At one time, we free leased 12 horses, and one mule. They were the best personalities, and the most dedicated horses you could get.

      I loved each and every one of them. One of them saved me from an attack by an escaped stallion, who got in with my mare. Dusty was a scrappy little half Arab, and such a nice boy. I miss having horses. All of this makes me fear for them, and worry.

      April 15, 2013
  • Amy Roth

    A wonderful story. God has blessed them. Everything happens for a reason. I pray people come together and conquer this awful situation and NOT allow horse slaughtering. We need to come up with a way to advertise these horses and get them in to good homes.

    April 14, 2013
    • Joanne

      Things do not happen for a reason but there is reason in everything that happens. Think about it. God is not the grand puppet master but since He created everything, He is in every thing.

      April 15, 2013
  • janwindsong

    I’d dare the small brains to say again that horses are just livestock and don’t deserve consideration.

    “Bowing, bowing, and bowing.”

    And hats off to HSUS for engineering this PUSH. I for one appreciate it. Thank you.

    April 14, 2013
  • Thank the “Animal God” she was able to find her horse. I sure hope she does not sell her again.

    April 15, 2013
  • Mac

    Bless, that’s incorrect according to the article. The mare had ALREADY been “saved” by the rescue before she was identified – she wasn’t pulled from the pen because of the scar. She was already a rescued horse.

    As for transporting horses across the border being the US’s “dirty little secret” – I don’t think so! Everybody knows about it, but hey, so long as you ain’t killing them ON your land, it doesn’t count… They would save a lot of horses a lot of distress and pain if they opened up the plants again in the US and monitored them closely.

    April 15, 2013
    • Debra Gordon

      Mac, no, it is a secret, and a truly dirty one. I began to broadcast the slaughter of racehorses, and was argued with by an equine veterinarian (retired) who didn’t know. Her life outside of horses was as a painter-a really good one- and she didn’t believe me. I had to quote her articles from the NY Times, and prove it. But I destroyed her belief that the horses were well loved, and taken care of, so she won’t speak to me anymore. I didn’t know about it until I received a notice from Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue showing on the front of the envelope Mexican meat men taking down two horse, and the effects of a captive bolt gun. But until that time, I had no idea, and that was about 7 months ago.

      The momentum has built, and everyone posts on Facebook, and YouTube the different videos, and talks about it. I even brought it up to a class recently, and they didn’t know. If you don’t travel in the right circles, and spend time with your ear to the issue, you won’t know.

      April 15, 2013
    • Debra Gordon

      AND…I just read the whole of your comment. You don’t like horses, do you?
      The only way to “save them a lot of distress and pain…” if you intend to kill them, is to euthanize them. They are too much our pets to allow them to go through that kind of institutional terror is to inject them. But then, they are unfit on a larger scale to eat. I’m so sorry you feel that way.

      April 15, 2013
    • BlessUsAll

      Your first paragraph is right, Mac. Thank you for correcting me. I knew she was already rescued, but I forgot that point when I read the quote about Brittany complaining about the scar being a flaw. The scar did, however, prove to Kelly that the mare WAS Scribbles! 🙂

      Your last sentence is so ridiculous as to be laughable, if it weren’t so tragically misinformed, Mac. Did you not see the Freedom of Information Act photos taken during transport to — and at — the slaughter plants on U.S. soil?

      And even if there had been no hard evidence produced showing just how torturously the horses are treated no matter where they are sent, can’t you put yourself in the horses’ hooves for a minute and ask if you’d like to be slaughtered?

      And NO (in advance): The alternative to slaughtering horses isn’t watching them starve to death. The alternative is responsible breeding, responsible guardianship, responsible laws and officers of the law. And responsible, to me, means caring, compassionate, wise, just, gentle, and merciful.

      Slaughter is VIOLENT. It VIOLATES the innate desire of every being to love and to be loved — the essence of life. Is that what is in your heart — VIOLENCE toward our brothers and sisters who happen to be nonhuman instead of human?

      What needs monitoring, to use your verb, are the cold hearts that pretend horses don’t have hearts. Indeed, horses’ huge hearts could teach us about the warmth, the breadth, and the depth of love, if we would humbly submit to being their students.

      April 15, 2013
    • Lisa

      Slaughtering our companion animals is barbaric and NOT humane in any form, in any country. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that they would be monitored closely here. 1) The animals that ARE raised for consumption are suppose to be monitored and in fact endure the worst amount of cruelty and inhumane treatment before they are even slaughtered. 2) The holding pens for the horses awaiting transport to the slaughterhouse, BEFORE they even get there….are starving, beaten, lying on the ground with broken legs. How do you even think for a second if the holding pens are not held accountable for humane treatment of these beautiful creatures, that slaughterhouses would be?? There will never be a worthy justification to slaughter horses, here or anywhere. They live their life working hard for us. They deserve better.

      And yes it is a secret. So many people have NO idea of this….or the transport of our wild mustangs rounded up and shipped over the border as well. Horrific, absolutely horrific what is being done to these precious creatures. Those responsible should be mortally ashamed to call themselves human.

      April 15, 2013
      • BlessUsAll

        Yes, Lisa, both “mortally” and morally “ashamed.”

        April 15, 2013
  • Arlene

    I believe there is truly a higher power at work now for the Horses !!!!!!! Divine intervention !!!!!!!

    April 15, 2013
  • Debbie Tracy

    I am in tears reading this, oh my gosh what a gift from god, for both of you!!! When is our Gov. going to hear us, and you can’t tell me they really have no idea what is going on course they do, they have just turned a blinds eye for years I believe with all my being that turning their eyes they can no longer do!!!

    SO SO HAPPY that you both are together again…
    A HAPPY story for a change…. Congrats 🙂

    April 15, 2013
  • Arlene

    Quite frankly , it doesnt matter who or what was involved , it only matters , that this Horse is back where she is suppose to be with the girl who loves her!!!!!!!! For that and that alone I am thankful !!!!!!!!!!

    April 15, 2013
  • kim leone

    Wow, soooooo happy this story ended happily. But, we all know, thousands of horses are sent to auction–then slaughter houses every year. Americans must protect their horses from these horrible atrocities.

    April 15, 2013
  • Debi

    I am glad she found her horse. Since it was at a rescue it was already saved from the killpen. Even though we can keep from slaughtering horses in the US they still have the slaughter houses in Mexico and Canada. Trucks ship everyday to both. There is no law to keep this from happening. I think that if we worked on a law to make it illegal to deal with slaughter houses and especially hauling horses to slaughter houses this would help.

    April 16, 2013
  • We just rescued a horse my granddaughter grew up with. We constantly post horses in kill pens, dogs & cats in ‘death’ shelters, and many animals that need help.

    We were looking at a April post for Enumclaw Animal Auction and shockingly saw our old horse Brodie…we had origianlly rescued him 16 yrs ago from an abuse situation. My granddaughter (then 9 yrs old) spent 2 years rehabing a horse that several vets had told us to put down…he would never be ridable again. She spent another 4 yrs in 4-H and many, many ribbons won by both. When she was 14 she decided that she wanted to get into eventing and of course we could not use Brodie. We sold him to a family that needed a nice calm horse for their handicap child. In the interim we had kept in periodical email touch. The last time was 3 mos ago…they were still happy with him and he was safe…or so we thought. Then…we saw his post at the “kill pen”. We scrambled to put money together to save him. My whole family helped save him…we now have him in my daughters pasture…but someone had rode him hard and broke him down really bad. We aren’t sure what the out come will be for him…if we have to put him down we will do it humanely…but the last part of his life he will get the care and retirement he fully deserves. Please, write to your congressman and plead with them to stop horse slaughter…and transporting them to Canada or Mexico for meat.

    April 16, 2013
    • Debra Gordon

      Sue, I know that auction house in Enumclaw. That owner (of the auction house) will take paint mares that look like they will throw color, and breed them to his stallion. If they don’t, he will put them on the scales. I can’t stand the guy, and I’ve rescued a number of horses from that place, one of them was a former racehorse and stud, who was scheduled to go to the scales. We bought him from the owner who didn’t care who bought him. I really hate that place. There are some good people there, some whose heart is in the right place, but there are some, like the grizzled, nasty, trader who beats and kicks his horses, and who butes them to get them to saleable. It is a place that frequently broke my heart, but where we saved a number of horses. I wish I had property now, ’cause my husband and I are committed to rescuing them, and almost any animal that needs a place to go to be at peace. I’m so sorry your horse was so ill used. But at least his last days will be in the arms of loved ones. Slaughter has to stop. Make sure you vote against that rat owner of the sale barn if you live in the Enumclaw area. Last time I heard, he was trying to run for office there. He is a disgusting example of maggotry.

      April 16, 2013
      • Daryl

        We had a action house here, did not think to much of them till I had 3 horses to sell, took coggins and they sold to reg. people looking for horses, got good homes and the owner of the place came and thanked us for bringing some nice animals to sell, he knew the people who bought them, I felt better about it then. We bought them to keep them out of kill buyers hands, fed them up , rode them, coggins, feet done and shots before we took them to sell them, and were ready to no sale them if needed be.

        April 16, 2013
    • Daryl

      I had one we loved and could not take him East with us from Fl. I let him stay here in weather he was use to , this is what the vet told me to do. I came back and moved in my house again, later down the line I got a call, my horse was not in good shape and I got him back, it took a long time to bring him back, I gave him to my girl friend for her kids to use, he spent the rest of his days with very light work, no saddle, he would take them to get the mail at the end of the drive way, he was loved every day, died right before his 30th birthday. He was a great horse for these kids,& he was loved, I would go and see him and take him some treats to eat.

      April 16, 2013
      • BlessUsAll

        Lovely happy-ending story, Daryl.

        It seems that so many of these tales are clear warnings to all of us to NOT trust anyone — not even a vet’s advice — with our horses.

        If a horse is not under our direct care and our daily watchful eye, well — as you and so many others have sadly found out — ANYTHING can (and often does) happen.

        April 16, 2013
        • Daryl

          Yes you are right, even with my good friend getting him I did go and check on him and she was a great mom for him, she had rode with me as a teen and then her kids to have him he was special to them all. Me as well, If I had it to do over, I would of took him north and got him heavy blankets and he would of been okay.
          But he had a good ending & I helped to place him with a great family, close by.

          April 16, 2013
          • BlessUsAll

            You’re so fortunate you don’t have to kick yourself over that decision, Daryl.

            My prayer is that each horse be a member of a “great family.” (Of course, horses help make their families “great”!)

            April 17, 2013
    • BlessUsAll

      After at least two episodes of abusive treatment and a brush with death, I’m sure Brodie will welcome spending his last days in peace. That news warms my heart.

      I trust that as horse owners realize that it is right to be true guardians to their equines, treating them as the “family members” they are, there will be fewer and fewer instances where a horse is sold because he can no longer be “used” for human purposes.

      When everyone sees themselves as a guardian to and companion of animals, there will be no market for slaughter, and the need for rescues, shelters, sanctuaries will be blessedly small.

      It’s really interesting to see how each decision we make has an impact, for good or ill, on our beloved equine (and canine and feline et al) friends. I’m so grateful Brodie is the beneficiary of your amazing discovery and compassionate decision to bring him home for good.

      April 16, 2013