Outside groups line up on both sides of horse slaughter debate


Advocates for resuming horse slaughter in Oklahoma decry out-of-state critics, saying it’s an issue for Oklahomans alone to decide. But pro-slaughter groups from outside Oklahoma also are influencing the discussion.


Newsok.com, William Crum, March 18, 2013

IMG_2190Sen. Mark Allen, of Spiro, sponsor of a bill to allow horse slaughtering to resume in Oklahoma, laid it on the line at a rally for advocates of the legislation: “If you’re an Oklahoman and have a concern, call our office. If you’re out of state, we don’t need to talk to you.”

The warning to outsiders followed the March 4 anti-slaughter rally in downtown Oklahoma City organized by national animal rights groups and what slaughter advocates said was harassment of legislators by out-of-state callers.

But out-of-state groups, including one led by wealthy Indiana businessman Forrest Lucas, are active on the pro-slaughter side as well, spending thousands of dollars on radio ads and helping organize lobbying efforts on behalf of the legislation.


Protect the Harvest, of Davenport, Iowa, has 60-second radio spots favoring slaughter running on stations across Oklahoma, calling on Oklahomans to contact their legislators and the governor.

The ads accuse radicals of spreading lies about Oklahoma farmers and ranchers. The Humane Society of the United States is spending millions to put agriculture out of business, they say.

A group started by a Hermiston, Ore., horse trainer sent emails urging “everyone within striking distance” to show up at the state Capitol for Wednesday’s rally supporting the legislation.

“Anytime you energize the agricultural, rural grassroots, you have an overwhelming response,” said Erik Helland, a former Iowa state representative who grew up on a seventh-generation Iowa family farm and is a founding board member of Protect the Harvest.

Oklahoma horses

Oklahoma horses are among an estimated 160,000 U.S. horses slaughtered for meat in Mexico and Canada each year. Much of that horse meat winds up in Europe and Asia.

The last of three U.S. horse slaughterhouses, in Texas and Illinois, closed in 2007 — in Texas because of an appeals court ruling on a 1949 state law, and in Illinois after slaughter was outlawed there, according to an analysis prepared by the Oklahoma Commerce Department.

Congress had withdrawn funding for federal horse processing inspections in 2005.

Oklahoma has prohibited the sale of horse meat since 1963. Two bills in the Legislature, SB 375 and HB 1999, would allow slaughter of horses to resume but would prohibit sale of horse meat for consumption in Oklahoma.

Dave Duquette, 47, trains reining and reined cow horses in Oregon, where he went into the business in his 20s after serving in the Marines.

He said he started United Horsemen because he felt there was not a voice for his interests in “all the major horse groups that claimed to be protecting us.”

“I was a Marine,” he said. “I like to fight.”

The horse industry has “never taken a hit like it’s taking now,” Duquette said. Basic saddle horses that used to be worth $1,200 to $3,500 sell for a fraction of the price now, he said.

“It’s a direct effect of the end of horse slaughter,” Duquette said.

Duquette said he has 20,000 people on his email list.

He had people lined up from five surrounding states for Wednesday’s pro-slaughter rally at the Capitol “but they wanted Oklahoma people to be there,” he said.

The Oklahoma Farm Bureau took the lead in promoting the event.

“I’ve been more of a helper to get horse people there,” Duquette said. “When they decided they wanted it on a certain day we got the word out.”

Targeting voters

Lucas, founder of Lucas Oil Products, is chairman and founding board member of Protect the Harvest.

Helland said Protect the Harvest is targeting rural Oklahoma voters with its statewide radio campaign and with a social media campaign through Facebook.

He declined to say what Protect the Harvest is spending, though records show its spots on KTOK, 1000-AM in Oklahoma City, cost $6,600 over a two-week period.

Ads were placed by Victory Enterprises of Davenport, a political and corporate consulting and communications firm founded by another former Iowa state representative, Steve Grubbs, who formerly was chairman of the Iowa Republican Party.

The Humane Society of the United States is a particular target of Protect the Harvest.

The group has an Oklahoma state director, Cynthia Armstrong, who has organized opposition to the horse slaughtering bills. Helland said farmers and ranchers “very much feel under fire” by the Humane Society.

The threat of outsiders telling Oklahomans how to manage agricultural policy was a theme running through Wednesday’s pro-slaughter State Capitol rally led by the Farm Bureau.

Terry Detrick, president of American Farmers and Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union, said advocates regretted criticism and harassment directed toward the bills’ sponsors by “fearmongers from other states.”

Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, author of the House bill, said out-of-state animal rights extremists needed to “start discussing facts instead of playing on the emotions and sensationalizing this issue.”

And House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said legislative leaders were drawing “a line in the sand” with the bills.

“We’re here to make the statement loud and clear that Oklahomans will not be intimidated by outside interest groups telling us how we should take care of Oklahomans,” he said.


AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Maria Jose Velasquez

    Oklahoman farmers are telling outside state people to stay out of what they do with horses because they know that outside state people are right about their cruelty and they are intimidated too loose the they make on this horrible dirty business. Well, people that care for animals, like me will not keep our mouths shut. These cruelties have to be known all over the world and they have to be stopped. Horses should not have to suffer pain and anguish so these people to fill their pockets with money from innocent blood. This is evil. It’s time for America to open its eyes to what is happening to horses and to take action to shut these horse slaughter houses once and for all. Since these animal abusers seem to not understand the suffering that the horses live through when they are taken to the slaughter houses, while they wait for their death, and even worse, when they get slaughtered, these people should go to jail and be tortured just as they do with the horses. Maybe then, they would understand and learn a little. Do not tell outside state people to stay out of this because you are wasting your time. As long as you continue harming animals, we will not stop defending them and showing your cruelty to the world. Shut the horse slaughter houses all over America once and for all.

    March 18, 2013
  • Dave D. would not touch one of my horses much less train one. These pro slaughter, cruel people will want to slaughter our dogs and cats next. Boycott beef.

    March 18, 2013
  • Arlene

    Absolutely , undeniably there is no reason for horse Slaughter !!!!!! It is a BLOOD LUST and GREED !!!!! That is and can t be anyhing else…………………..

    March 18, 2013
  • Judith Keene

    Well, as a horse owner in another state, it looks like i will never buy a horse from Oklahoma! If everyone in other states wouldnt purchase a horse from there, the value of their horses wouldnt go up when slaughter resumes and they would be back to square one! I also will never, travel to or support that state in even one endeavor pertaining to horse shows, trainers, ranchers, breeders, etc as im sure other out of staters wont either!! Lets boycott that state big time!! They are making it plain and clear that they dont want to hear from out of staters on the slaughter issue so why should they have the pleasure of our business?

    March 18, 2013
  • Kathy

    Since my farrier is so ON TARGET with his post, I thought I would re-post it here…. I do have his permission.

    Horses in America die of two major causes: colic and laminitis. Each require pain killers to treat in hopes of recovery. Colic is treated with Banamine and Laminitis is treated with “bute”. If there are any underlying problems of infection then the horses are treated with antibiotics. If the horses are “excess stock” of the horse show industry, the sport horse competition industry (racing, cutting and reining, eventing, etc.) then they are often raised on steroids, hormone regulators (dexamethasone) and nutritional additives not approved for human consumption. For many horses, the initial sickness results in death and the horse is usually rendered at a processing plant; if one can be found, as they are closing down rapidly. “Killers”, as horse buying middle men are known at livestock auctions through out the U.S., often buy the horse that never recovered from their illness enough to compete again, so the drugs given may have been given the day they were unloaded for auction. Also, it is well known that grey horses are predisposed to melanoma cancers. Most rendering plants will not accept grey horses but because grey horses are quite abundant, “killer’s” auctions will. So cancer tainted meat is often in the mix of slaughtered horses for human consumption. Some false rendering companies provide the service of disposing of your dead horse. These horses are put down by veterinarians with massive amounts of “euthanizing” drugs: telazol, ketamine, xylazine, acepromazine, diazapines, and phenobarbitals among others in “cocktails” of varying combinations. Unscrupulous-false rendering facilities buy these dead horses and do sell their tainted dead horses to “killers” under the right conditions (death within twelve hours, disemboweled or “dressed” horses, etc.) as long as the understaffed and overworked inspectors have not inspected the dead horse and of course there is no paper trail because no one knows where the horses came from. Wild horses are branded upon capture from their ranges and put into holding pens in hopes of adopting them out. But only approximately 20% make it into adoption. The rest are transported to holding facilities across the U.S. by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in a cycle that eventually ends with the removal of the animals in the early morning hours by transport vehicles contracted by the “killers”. This process takes anywhere from six months to one year. Just enough time to fatten up the horse for slaughter at the American middle class taxpayer’s expense. These wild horses were removed from the range due to pressure from such organizations as the National Cattlemen’s Association lobbying groups in D.C. This increases the range grass availability to cattle being raised for consumption. This again, is financed by the middle class American taxpayer’s dollars. As these “wild horses” are suppose to be a national treasure and symbol of the American wild west, it was in the recent past illegal to slaughter them. That now has like all other horse slaughter been lost in the morass of lost paper work, burn or acid removal of brands on wild horses and the efficient transportation of horses for slaughter in Mexico and Canada through the back roads of the U.S.’s considerable border lengths with these two countries. So for your European consumers of horse meat, this is the real story of American horses of all sorts bound for slaughter. It just makes your mouth water thinking about it, doesn’t it? Or is that the symptoms of one puking at the thought?

    March 18, 2013
    • Cynthia Curtis

      Well said,but all so sad,what a nightmare,disgusting truths,dang meat lovers– cattle roping ranchers– and their supporters and consumers…we need to keep fighting for the horses!!!

      March 18, 2013
      • Daryl

        Yes we do, they have more then their share of problems and not a vocie but all of us to try and get it out for the public to hear, you know if not for this poor econmy more of us could show up and be counted body wise, but that too is Washington’s doing. My heart breaks, I have 5 my self and 4 of them were bought to help them out, fatten them up and let them become horses again. First hand I see what, people do with them if they can’t feed them or tire of them, or just don’t care. The animal just gets skinny, then sick, and dies. But this slaughter thing is even worst then that, these are people who know horses, know what they are doing, and do it any way, oh well if you loose some less to have to care for and feed, they are sorry through and through.

        March 18, 2013
  • Linda Jackson

    The telephone number at the capitol is 1-855-686-6927 (switchboard and ask to connect to your representatives). Call your senators and express your disappointment in a large way; advise them that your vote is going to depend upon their actions on your behalf.

    March 18, 2013
  • Horse slaughter is the most disgusting practice !!! Horses are tortured it is NOT humane WATCH a video and then ask yourself if you condo this practice!?!?!?! There are always going to be irresponsible horse woners AND Breeders, no slaughter house will sell a thin abused horse, come on people that is NOT going to fix anything, ALL this is about is MONEY for the business for the people who sell horses!! Horses are our companions, and our hero’s in the ring, they have been an icon in the history of this country they deserve better why don’t you just hang up all the extra population of cats and dogs while you are at it!!!!! ALL SALUGHTER IN AND OUT OF THE US HAS TO STOP NOW once and for all!!!

    March 18, 2013
  • Daryl

    These are living breathing animals, in families who are rounded up off thier land, put in pens, fed, horribly taken care of, living in their own waist and killed, not in a nice way, meat sent to other countries for people to eat. Men, Woman & Children, horses are not meant to be food they are not raised to be food, the have meds in them that can kill us. this is a good thing? Hell NO, not for the horses and not for the people who are eating the tainted meat….wake up this is murder.

    March 18, 2013
  • Sue Wallis Lies

    Kathy: that is the best rebuttal to horse slaughter I have read so far. It should be published in a paper in OK. Maybe that would open their eyes????

    March 18, 2013
    • Daryl

      Some thing has to open some eyes, and minds & get these people to think down the road after the kill houses & where it is going and for what, and who is going to suffer. I think hte most they think is $$$$$$ signs.

      March 18, 2013
  • Judith Keene

    I went into the FDA site tonight and did some research on drugs that are banned for use in horses meant for food. There are 51 commonly used drugs that i found. Most of them are prescribed by vets for various injuries to the horses musculo-skeletal system, such as injuries youd see in race horses and sport horses. All horse drugs listed in this site are not to be used on horses meant for food. I cant understand how the USDA can pass this horsemeat with these drugs, when they are warned by the FDA that these drugs are not meant for food for human consumption?

    March 18, 2013
  • people please stop all the horse slaughters i watch a video yesterday at a slaughter house and i could not watch it all it was so heart breaking .
    horses were never ment to be sold for meat they are part of the old west and should be loved and care for this country is going to hell with all the evil and inhuman acts to to these beauitful animals.
    all this country sees is dollar signs and how much money they can make its so sad that people just don’t care about any thing but the almighty dollar.

    March 19, 2013
  • Jade

    Am I missing something here? “And House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said legislative leaders were drawing “a line in the sand” with the bills. “We’re here to make the statement loud and clear that Oklahomans will not be intimidated by outside interest groups telling us how we should take care of Oklahomans,” he said.

    Is the State of Oklahoma made up of children or idiots? The man was elected to REPRESENT the citizens and their voice in things – not “take care” of them! What an insulting comment to make in a public forum? If I lived there I would be on the phone or walking in his office to assure him that I’m an adult of don’t need him and his cronies taking care of me – I do a fine job of that myself! Including having my own thoughts and opinions that HE is being paid to REPRESENT…not fill in the blanks for me!

    March 19, 2013
  • Jade

    Hmm…always proof read when furious! LOL Meant to say: “…I’m an adult AND don’t need him and his cronies to take care of me….”

    March 19, 2013