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Susana on horse abuse stories: “This is unacceptable” UPDATE: Gov asking feds to reject slaughterhouse

By   /   April 12, 2012  /   No Comments

Starving horse from video taken at a Los Lunas horse auction March 10. At the urging of the advocates, an auction worker finally euthanized the horse, which was malnourished and unable to stand. Courtesy: Animals' Angels Inc.

In the past few weeks two shocking stories concerning horses in New Mexico made headlines.

First, the Albuquerque Journal came out with graphic photos of four starving horses found suffering at a Los Lunas feedlot.

Second, the New York Times ran a blistering exposé of horse racing abuse across the country and pointed at New Mexico as having the worst safety record in the nation, alleging that horses often are drugged to such dangerous levels that they risk breaking down and being destroyed (not to mention the danger to jockeys).

Capitol Report New Mexico caught up with Gov. Susana Martinez earlier this week and asked her about both stories, starting with the Los Lunas incident and then asking the governor about her office calling for a report from the state Racing Commission concerning — among other things — improved drug testing for race horses. Here’s what she said:

In the case of the emaciated horses in Los Lunas, the state Livestock Board is coming under fire and district attorney Lemuel Martinez is looking into filing criminal charges.

As for the racing commission, its monthly hearing is scheduled for Thursday (April 19). We’ll be there to cover it.

Update 4/13: In another story, Gov. Martinez is asking the federal government to reject allowing a horse slaughterhouse to open in southeastern New Mexico, which would be the first OK’d in the US since 2007.

From Associated Press:

Martinez said Friday she plans to send a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking it not to approve a Roswell meat company’s request for inspections that would allow it to operate.

Valley Meat Co. has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its 7,300-square-foot plant outside of town.

Documents obtained by the Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue show that the horses would be “custom slaughtered” and processed for human consumption at the plant.


Rob formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Tawny O’Hara

    God Bless You Ms Martinez. I am not a Republican but voted for you anyway. I’d vote for you as President because I know the efforts you have put in to pull New Mexico out of the sewer. Your bi partisan stance is admirable. Please save our horses and take them off the kill list even for being transported to Mexico. Dennis Chavez is the biggest transporter of horses to slaughter in Mexico. People like that shouldn’t be allowed to function in any capacity with any animals. He is corrupt and heartless. I pray you can stop horse slaughter coming into our beautiful state and smearing us ever more across the Nation.

  • Judy Prisoc

    My heartfelt thanks goes out to Governor Martinez for defending New Mexico’s horses.

  • http://www.equinespiritsanctuary.org Ruth Bourgeois

    Thank you, Gov. Martinez, for addressing these issues. With all that has come to national attention this past month, within our racing industry and the Chavez feedlot situation, the prospect of a horse slaughter facility for human consumption in NM is about too much to handle. If we – the residents of NM – cannot stand up for these animals and figure out a way to work on eliminating the abuse, we should all hang our heads in shame. It’s not acceptable that horses are treated like this. We live in an incredible place with much beauty. The way we treat others, including horses and all animals, should reflect that.

  • Nancy

    Dear Governor Martinez,

    I appeal to you to act swiftly to bring and end to the abusive treatment of horses here in New Mexico.

    Awareness of this disgraceful situation demands corrective action now!

    Thank you.

  • http://iacmusic.com/artist.aspx?ID=19338 Kevin Quail

    Unfortunately, as the Albuquerque Journal stated, 100,000 horses a year are shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. The BLM holds more free range wild horses in pens than are left roaming the west, not to mention those neglected or abandoned by horse owners. But the big culprit here is the government- Congress re-authorized USDA inspections of horse slaughterhouses here in the US ina recent appropriations bill and President Obama signed it- the inspections were outlawed back in 2006 which made it illegal to slaughter horses. Here’s a lot more info, from horse advocate groups both local and national, especially about the round-ups by helicopter by the BLM, during which horses die and mares miscarry:


    The Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

    Madeline Pickens Wild Horse Sanctuary

    Front Range Equine Rescue

  • Marilyn Wilson

    Dear Governor Martinez, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please stay strong and know that the people of NM and America are behind you 100%! A Greatness of a Nation is judged by the way it treats it’s animals!

  • Marilyn Wilson

    Dear Governor, and NM Attorney General, Dennis Chavez has illegally hauled horses from the state of CA since 1998. He’s the biggest slaughter buyer of horses on the west coast, he brags of shipping 10,000 head of horses per year to Mexico for slaughter for human consumption. All slaughter horses were the green USDA sticker. He also breaks the law by hauling them in double decker cattle trucks, illegal per our USDA because they are headed to slaughter, he admits this and also they wear the USDA sticker slating them for slaughter. Ca. law on exporting horses from Ca. SEC. 4. Section 598c is added to the Penal Code, to read:

    598c. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it is unlawful for any person to possess, to import into or export from the state, or to sell, buy, give away, hold, or accept any horse with the intent of killing, or having another kill, that horse, if that person knows or should have known that any part of that horse will be used for human consumption.

    (b) For purposes of this section, “horse” means any equine, including any horse, pony, burro, or mule.

    (c) Violation of this section is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or two or three years.

    (d) It is not the intent of this section to affect any commonly accepted commercial, noncommercial, recreational, or sporting activity that relates to horses.

    (e) It is not the intent of this section to affect any existing law that relates to horse taxation or zoning.

  • Elizabeth Dana

    Dear Govenor:

    I am requesting you be chosen for Vice President because you are a wonderful person who is brilliant tatful sensitive to the needs of these people and horses.

    I can on imagine. I want to move to New Mexico and spent my tourist dollars there!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you again!

  • William Ortiz

    There are a few things that need to be made very clear on this topic:

    1. The picture of the horse in this article is not a horse that will be sent to slaughter. This horse is one that has been starved or is sick and would never end up for human consuption.

    2. Horses have the same standards as cattle in order to be processed for human consumption.

    3. Horses such as the one in the picture are the result of many wanna-be cowboys that buy a horse when they have the money and than abandon the horse when the price of hay gets too high.

    4. If there were a processing plant available horses could have a humane ending instead of starving to death.

    5. Some of the comments for this article ask to stop the abusive treatment of horses in NM. If you go to an animal shelter and try to adopt a dog you have to prove that you can provide for the dog before you adopt it. If horse owners had the same requirement there would be no abusive treatment of horses.

    6. I am neither pro nor con in regard to a processing plant: I have had many horses in my 62+ years and have never sent one to a processing plant.

    7. Regardless of the outcome of this issue I will vote again for Governor Martinez.

  • GEMO

    None of us prefer the sentencing to death or slaughter of any animal, regardless of the species; but, the reality of it all is, that we need horse slaughter houses as a practical alternative and solution to govern the horse population. Public Laws forbid burying a horse on your own property these days because of possible contamination of water sources and supplies; so, what’s the practical alternative or solution? I agree that the need of unnecessary suffering needs to be resolved in all slaughter houses, regardless of species . . . cow, pig, chicken, etc. As for horse meat for human consumption, if it is untainted and USDA inspected, it is an excellent source of meat protein and an alternative to beef, pork, poultry, and other human-grade meat sources. If that is too hard for the U.S. human meat industry to consider, use horse meat for carnivorous animal food diets, just as other animal sources are used. The horse industry has crashed since the close of horse slaughter houses, and reopening of the horse slaughter houses is the only resolution to the over population of horses in the U.S. Do you really think that hunter’s get the shot exactly right for an instant kill every time, or slashing the throats of cows and pigs is a quick death, or wringing the necks or cutting-off the heads of chickens is instantaneous demise? Sit-back and give serious thought to all animal slaughter solutions, not just that of horses; if you’re going to sympathize with one species of animal, sympathize with them all; but the end result and reality-check has been the same for thousands of years of animal slaughter for human and animal consumption. Citizens within the U.S. need to ban together and offer better solutions to the overall humane slaughter of animals for whatever the meat by-product use is and not the concentration of one species.

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