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Horse slaughter fact sheet

posted February 23rd, 2013 by
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HB 1999 is about money.   HB 1999 was proposed by Representative Skye McNiel. Her grandparents own Mid-America sale barn, a business that stands to gain hugely from the passage of this bill. The bill mandates that the horses must be processed through a sale barn…what a gift to her family.  McNiels’ husband, Pecos is listed online as operating a trucking firm (with no phone) based at the sale barn address. He is allegedly a horse dealer (buyer/seller).

Starvation vs. slaughter is a crafty way to bypass Oklahoma’s anti-cruelty laws in order to open a new market.  Allowing horses to starve is illegal…horses do not need to be slaughtered to stop neglect.

Horse slaughter is not a simple, humane way to prevent neglect…it will increase it. Slaughter provides an incentive for continuing to breed horses for a seriously overstocked market.  Breeders want a guaranteed market for their excess horses and want Oklahomans to help them get rich.

Slaughter is a gruesome, terrifying and brutal end to a horse’s life.  Do NOT be fooled. Slaughter is NOT the same as humane euthanasia.

Horse owners cry poverty.  Euthanizing and disposing of a horse in Oklahoma is no more expensive than euthanizing and disposing of a dog.  Euthanasia and disposal of an average sized horse at Oklahoma State University (OSU) costs from $150 to $200.  Using a private veterinarian and disposal service costs from $175 to $250 and using a veterinarian and having a backhoe can cost under $150. This is in the same ballpark as dog euthanasia.  Are horse owners so impoverished that they cannot pay for horse care? Will we sell elderly dogs by the pound next?

The average age of a horse processed for slaughter is between six and eight years old.  The slaughter market does not want the old, thin horses that McNiel claims she wants to “help.”

McNiel’s claims do not make sense.  The necessary USDA inspections for selling meat for human consumption are not available and the USDA has not indicated that the inspections will resume.  The current EU horse meat scandal revealed that products containing up to 100 percent horse meat were sold as beef for over two years  .  The supply of horse meat greatly exceeded the demand for it; and it cannot be sold legitimately.  

Because of horse meat tainted by commonly used equine drugs that are dangerous to people, the EU has indicated that horses imported for slaughter may require medical/drug documentation as is required for cattle.  If this comes to pass horse meat (or live horses for slaughter) shipped to Europe will likely be raised specifically for slaughter.  How does this fit with HB 1999’s animal welfare plan?

This can increase crime in Oklahoma.  Horse sales are frequented by Baker trucking; George Baker was recently charged with racketeering and conspiracy and receiving stolen property and farm equipment .  The charges included nine Oklahoma counties and parts of Texas.  Baker was convicted of federal animal welfare act (AWA) violations  due to horses he was trucking to slaughter in Mexico.  Are we changing laws in order to accommodate the likes of Baker?

The “Unwanted Horse Coalition,” under the umbrella of the American Horse Council (AHC), has been a proponent of horse slaughter.  The AHC is a lobbying consortium that represents horse breeders and the horse industry, not animal welfare.  Breeders want to kill excess horses in order to sell more horses.

The AHC LinkedIn profile does not mention welfare. Here it is:

The American Horse Council was organized in 1969 to represent the horse industry in Washington before Congress and the federal regulatory agencies. It is a non-profit corporation that represents all segments of the equine industry.

The mission of the American Horse Council is to promote and protect the equine industry by representing its interests in Congress and in federal regulatory agencies on national issues of importance; to unify the equine industry by informing industry members of regulations and pending legislation, and by serving as a forum for all member organizations and individuals; and to advise and inform government and the industry itself of the equine industry’s important role in the United States economy.

The goal of the AHC is to ensure that the industry works together in Washington to accomplish our ultimate goal of “Keeping Opportunities Open” for the horse industry. The AHC believes that consensus and coordinated action by our members in dealing with federal legislation and regulations is the best way to accomplish our goal. The AHC works toward those ends whenever possible.

What happens when horses are bought for pennies a pound by Oklahoma “yay-hoos” that want to make a fast buck and then cannot sell horses for slaughter?

Sue Wallis, CEO of Wyoming based United Equine and Chevideco, a Belgian horse meat company are likely the investors McNiel has referred to Chevideco literature states that they will not process old, sick animals and may breed horses to slaughter.   Wallis and Chevideco have said they will use, but not invest in, a slaughter plant.  Chevedico has left communities with environmental damage

 HB 1999 is bad for horses and bad for Oklahoma…it just serves a select few. 

NO Horse Slaughter!

posted February 18th, 2013 by
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Horse slaughter is not a humane alternative to responsible horse care; we have laws in Oklahoma to stop animal neglect.   The entities that want to open slaughter houses include the Unwanted Horse Coalition; despite the name, that is not an animal welfare organization, it is a consortium of horse breeding registries including the American Quarter Horse Association.  Is that because “too many” are okay as long as they can keep making money?

Say no to HB 199 and SB 375

Please contact your legislator to tell them to vote NO to horse slaughter in Oklahoma ask that they let you know how they voted on horse slaughter.  Find your legislator at


When contacting your own legislator, tell them that you are a constituent.


A sample e mail:

Dear  ________________;

I urge you to vote NO on HB 1999 and SB 735, the measures that would make Oklahoma into the horse slaughter capitol of the US. Horse slaughter is not part of our legacy.

Contrary to what the proponents say, this measure only helps those who breed horses.  Slaughter will not make a problem go away; it will make overbreeding profitable and ensure the breeding of excess horses.  Especially in view of the EU issues, if this international industry downsizes, Oklahoma could be left with many more unwanted horses that we are concerned about now.

Horse slaughter has been found to be tied to organized crime (, with large-scale Oklahoma horse slaughter dealer George Baker indicted on February 8 by a grand jury with counts that include conspiracy and racketeering. The indictment covered nine Oklahoma counties and extended to Texas; we do not need this “underworld” industry (

Responsible ownership is the answer; horse slaughter is not. The equation is not starve or be butchered.  We have laws to prevent starvation. Oklahoma should not be the horse killing state.

No to HB1999 and SB 375.





In the coming weeks “ag” organizations and other interests will work together to decide what legislative bills they support.  This issue affects all Oklahomans.

Even though they speak about the “sad” abundance of unwanted horses, most of the nationwide entities that support reopening horse slaughter are involved in breeding more horses.   

The following organizations are active at our capitol.  Please let them know that you hope they will join us in saying NO to horse slaughter in Oklahoma.    

Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce (Oklahoma City) use link:

Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce (Tulsa) [email protected]

Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association- please call them at (405) 235-4391 and ask them to not support (or oppose) the horse slaughter bill.  Horse slaughter is not a part of Oklahoma’s legacy and it is not a part of our agricultural heritage. 

Oklahoma Farm Bureau use link:

Oklahoma Sheriff’s and Peace Officers Association  [email protected]

Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association use link:  

Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation [email protected]

Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association [email protected]


A Sample e-mail to these organizations is:


Dear  [name of organization]

During this session, please do not join forces with those who support the “horse slaughter” measures before the Oklahoma legislature.

Oklahoma needs jobs and infrastructure, not get-rich-quick schemes and crime.  Horse slaughter is not part of our legacy and it is not a promising business for us.

Contrary to what the proponents say, this measure helps those who breed horses.  Slaughter will not make a problem go away; it will make overbreeding profitable and ensure the ongoing breeding of excess horses.

Horse slaughter has been found to be tied to organized crime (, with large-scale Oklahoma horse slaughter dealer George Baker indicted on February 8 by a grand jury with counts that include conspiracy and racketeering. The indictment covered nine Oklahoma counties and extended to Texas; we do not need an “underworld” industry (

Responsible ownership is the answer; horse slaughter is not. The equation is not starve or be butchered.  We have laws to prevent starvation. Oklahoma should not be the horse killing state.

Please stand with Oklahoma on common sense and do not join with the horse slaughter proponents.

No to HB1999 and SB 375.



Animal Shelter Numbers Tell Only a Part of the Story

posted February 10th, 2013 by
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As it appeared in the 2/8/13 Huffington Post

by Ruth Steinberger

The problem of homelessness in America is cause for alarm — and for action. Most of us are aware of the distressing reality of homelessness faced every day by millions of our fellow citizens — war veterans, the mentally ill, children, families, the working poor. Far fewer are aware of another homeless population among us. Even the size of this neglected population is difficult to determine and it is entirely unable to advocate for itself.

The number of homeless dogs and cats in the U.S. cannot be established by merely tallying up the numbers at all the animal shelters. The fact is, many, perhaps most, surplus pets never enter the shelter system. Yet their lives may be at greater risk than those that do enter shelters. If we are to address the problem of homelessness among our country’s dog and cat population, and reduce the horrors that face this population (neglect, roadside abandonment, intentional cruelty, euthanasia), we must include the uncounted, the “invisible,” among them in the discussion.

In considering the issue of homeless pets, some may argue that if all pets were simply obtained from animal shelters, the number of homeless companion animals would gradually be reduced to the point that the euthanasia of healthy, loving dogs and cats would largely cease. However, that would not work because the math just doesn’t add up.

According to the Spay USA website, 70,000 pets are born in the U.S. each day, while according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 10,957.2 people are born each day (or 3,999,386 annually). So unless families pick up their seven dogs or cats each time there is an addition to the family, the number of surplus pets will continue to exceed the number of homes available to them.

By focusing our efforts on adoption instead of reducing births we may cycle different, but not fewer, pets through the shelter system. Only by reducing the number of unintended births among our dog and cat population can we hope to reduce euthanasia, neglect and cruelty.

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) the world’s leading pet products and manufacturers trade association, the largest source of household pets is not the local animal shelter, a breeder, or a pet store. A 2012 APPA poll revealed that while 21 percent of dogs are obtained from shelters and 26 percent from breeders, 39 percent are from the combined random sources of friend, family member or stray — sources that typically reflect impulse decisions, not planned adoptions. The number of cats obtained from a friend, family member or stray is reported to be 75 percent. And for both dogs and cats, the number obtained as a stray is greater than the number coming from pet stores. These figures represent the cycles of pets in poverty; pets obtained from these sources are at risk of producing even more unintended litters that are also likely to join the ranks of the invisible homeless.

An April, 2009, a Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) article revealed that household income is the greatest predictor of whether or not pets undergo a spay/neuter operation, with homes earning under $35,000 being almost half as likely to have pets altered than homes over $75,000. Ultimately, most unwanted litters originate in low-income communities and the pets are likely to be passed on to their new homes unaltered and with the mothers remaining at risk of producing more litters. Those concerned with shelter euthanasias and animal neglect should be alarmed that the animals most likely to suffer are the unplanned puppies and kittens that are passed between family members, friends and neighbors, or given away in parking lots or through newspaper ads and websites like Craigslist. According to, a national database on animal cruelty, dogs are the number-one animal victim targeted for cruelty. also notes that “free-to-good home” advertisements, a common method for placing unplanned litters in communities without shelters, increase the risk of an animal becoming a victim. Intact male dogs are victims in 80 percent of canine cruelty cases, followed by puppies.

Even if we were to count only the animals that enter the shelter system, the number of homeless is startling: According to Oxford Pets, roughly eight million surplus animals will enter shelters in the U.S. this year. Some will enter as part of a litter and others will enter as adults. Only 25 percent of the dogs and a very small percentage of cats will be purebred; 75 percent of dogs and nearly all of the cats will be mixed breed animals that originated in unplanned and largely unwanted litters. Most will originate in low-income communities and fewer than half will leave the shelters alive.

Although we may be drawn to complex socio-economic explanations to account for and address the problem of homelessness in people, in the case of homeless pets we need to begin with the simple fact that there are just too many dogs and cats for the number of homes available for them and that being part of this surplus leaves millions of dogs and cats out in the cold. Although affordable spay/neuter services exist in many urban areas of our nation, throughout vast areas of the U.S., spay/neuter services remain spotty and unavailable. Literally millions of surplus animals are born as a result of that void. Without increasing convenient access to spay/neuter programs and mandating their use, effecting change in many areas of the nation could still take decades.

With ad campaigns and other encouragements, we can, perhaps, increase the number of cats and dogs entering and leaving through the revolving door of our local animal shelters, but spay/neuter programs, not adoption, prevent the overwhelming number of excess pets from needing homes, entering shelters or becoming victims, no matter where on the timeline they are counted.

Nancy Atwater, executive director of Tulsa-based Spay Oklahoma, a high volume spay/neuter program founded in 2004 that currently provides over 12,000 spays or neuters to pets in low-income Tulsa City/County homes each year, says that much of this is a matter of common sense. According to Atwater, “The shelters in most large cities are diligent about spaying or neutering pets before release. So if most pets came from either shelters or breeders, urban spay/neuter programs would serve largely purebred dogs and cats. But that’s not what happens. Our clients mainly have mixed-breed animals that were obtained locally. And we see almost as many of these as the number of surplus pets that enter the local shelter every year.”

The number of pets entering shelters may be equaled by the number of surplus pets that are never counted. Our vision, and our solution, needs to encompass all that are at risk of hunger, cruelty and neglect.

Shifting our current practice from the collection and dispersal of homeless animals to preventing their births can stop the suffering and abate the need for building or expanding shelters. It can be done. It just means changing our strategy to spay/neuter, something that is cheaper, easier and more humane than building shelters to lock up unwanted pets. This should not take decades.



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Spay/neuter Ordinances Should Be Adopted Nationwide

posted February 10th, 2013 by
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As it appeared in the 12/31/12 Huffington Post

by Ruth Steinberger

The hidden costs of pet overpopulation make the expansion of affordable spay/neuter services into an ethical and financial imperative. Sadly it is still lagging throughout much of the U.S.

In poverty, people and the companion animals around them suffer together. It’s a tragedy intertwined between dogs and cats and the people they depend on for their basic care. The lack of resources in poor communities is easily ignored, yet like other issues facing low-income communities, overlooking the impact of pet overpopulation has social, ethical and financial implications.

In the U.S. animal control costs are estimated at $2 billion a year or around $6 per person. The majority of animals entering shelters, especially litters, come from low-income communities. Additionally, poor pet care habits are tied to an excessive number of dog bites, a phenomenon that disproportionately affects low-income communities as well, adding another estimated billion dollars each year (in 2011, insurance companies paid $479 million for dog bite claims) or roughly another $3 per person. Nine dollars per person is spent annually to address largely preventable problems.

It’s complicated and sad; neither the animals nor the taxpayers come out ahead. Although statistics point overwhelmingly to the need to expand spay/neuter programs and mandate their use, public dollars for prevention based spay/neuter programs do not equal even 50 cents per person and mandatory spay/neuter remains controversial.

Addressing the issue of too many dogs and cats in poor communities is not simple; overall access to convenient, affordable spay/neuter services is disparate with some states having only a very few accessible, affordable programs to serve the state, and some statewide programs that do exist lack the funds to operate effectively. Additionally shelters that respond to homeless animals are generally operated by municipalities at taxpayer expense; spay/neuter programs that prevent unwanted litters usually are not; these services are opened by nonprofit organizations one at a time, and due to local costs (rent, etc.), some must charge rates that are out of range for many low-income homes to pay.

A 2009 study noted that annual family income was the strongest predictor of whether cats in the home were neutered. The household income that delineated the difference in pet care habits was $35,000 per year. The fact that poverty affects the animals in the home is also a matter of common sense.

“Affordable and accessible” means different things to different people. In the absence of a program to ensure affordability, those who live at minimum wage struggle to have a pet spayed or neutered.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour; this is roughly $15,000 per year, or around $53 per day after taxes. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that in 2011 roughly 2.2 million hourly workers earned below the minimum wage. Almost 25 percent of U.S. households earn under $25,000 per year, with close to 40 percent under $35,000 per year. Additionally, according to the Social Security Administration the average person on disability receives a benefitof $710 per month. In November 2012, 8,241,018 individuals received disability payments at an average of $518.80 per person.

Spending over a days’ earnings to spay the pet, driving hours to get to a spay/neuter program or waiting weeks to use an intermittent program places responsible pet care out of reach for low-income homes.

Stray, mangy dogs turning over trash cans to find food are a rarity in wealthy communities in the U.S.; they exist in communities in which the very fiber of people’s lives are also at risk. As a local resident of the low-income community, the financially at-risk person is often the one who reaches out to assist the at-risk pet. Indeed intake forms from thousands of surgeries performed at low-income spay/neuter programs in different parts of the U.S. reveal that over half of low-income homes “obtained” their pet by feeding or caring for a stray. Everyone’s life was fragile when the partnership started and without being able to take the first basic step in responsible pet care, it is unlikely that the newfound friendship will be a stable one. For a female dog or cat, the ability to be spayed may provide the only possibility for remaining in the home.

Not being neutered and remaining on a chain are tied to aggression and territorial behavior in male animals. Guarding litters is one of the top reasons for bites from female dogs. The failure to have pets spayed or neutered, combined with confining pets by a chain, statistically increase the likelihood of the pet facing neglect (including social neglect), producing an unwanted litter, or being involved in a dog bite incident.

Neglect, unwanted litters and dog bites are inextricably tied to an inability to access basic services that include spay/neuter. These issues are tragic, they overwhelmingly affect low-income communities and in large part, they are preventable through good pet care habits. These habits don’t just come about, they require adjusting our thinking and embracing a prevention based model.

An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year. Of these around 800,000 Americans seek medical attention; around 386,000 of those require treatment in an emergency room at an average of about $5,000 each; approximately 16 bite victims will die each year. Intact male dogs are involved in 76 percent of cases and importantly, 25 percent of cases involve dogs that are kept on chains. While a complex set of circumstances are involved when a person is killed by dogs, approximately 92 percent of fatal dog attacks involve male dogs, 94 percent of which are not neutered at the time of the attack. Chaining as a means of confinement is significantly overrepresented in fatal attacks as well.

Remaining intact and chained to a dog house or tree (and not socialized) is a very poor life for a dog. It’s a lifestyle that often deteriorates into chronic neglect that also creates a danger for the community. This entire picture is over represented in low-income communities. The habits can be addressed through minimal resources; the outcomes are, to a large degree, preventable, and indeed worth preventing.

Getting to the heart of an overpopulation issue that exploded in the news when a fatality occurred, in January 2006, San Francisco passed a mandatory pit bull sterilization ordinance. At the time pit bulls filled three quarters of the shelter. Eighteen months after the passage of the ordinance, pit bull impoundments declined by 21 percent; shelter occupancy rates fell and pit bulls euthanized dropped by 24 percent. A 2010 report noted that bites had significantly decreased as well. A spay/neuter ordinance accomplished what adoption efforts had not. Former Animal Care and Control Director Carl Friedman said, “Fewer pit bulls are being abandoned to the pound because fewer are being born, thanks to the spay and neuter requirement.” At the time he added, “I wouldn’t bet the house it’s all because of the ordinance, but nothing else has really changed.”

In 2007 the City of Lawton, Okla., passed an ordinance mandating that pets be spayed or neutered, or that the owner purchase a breeders permit. The ordinance also outlaws tethering. City of Lawton Animal Welfare Superintendent Rose Wilson lobbied heavily for the ordinance which has saved thousands of lives. Wilson said, “If you want to breed animals you must buy a permit and treat it as a business.” She acknowledged that a bit of money is saved by reducing the numbers, but the biggest outcome is in the lives that are spared. The city has gone from euthanizing 1283 of adoptable pets in 2006, to 49 in 2012. The city shelter receives unwanted animals that are turned in by individuals from surrounding towns that are not covered under the ordinance, and Wilson would like to see Fort Sill Military Base mandate responsible pet care since many animals are abandoned when residents of the base move on. When she was 12 years old, Lawson found a dog that was huddled in tall grass in a field near her home. It was snowing out and she brought the dog home. She said, “Then I grew up and realized that dog is everywhere. The problem remains the numbers that are born.” She said, “Limiting intakes to certain localities, or closing our doors to the pets to make numbers look like they’re going down, is the wrong thing to do. If we can save endangered species through action that is across international borders, we can stop the number of pets being born right here.”

Considering the costs of responding to the failure to have dogs and cats spayed and neutered, and the fact that these programs are effective when reaching the homes that produce the majority of unwanted litters, it is time to start the discussion of publicly operated and/or supported programs that make spay/neuter services affordable and accessible for low-income homes to use. Many effective and financially self-sustaining models, including partnerships with private practitioners, exist. It is humane and it is cost-effective.

Mandatory spay/neuter and anti-tethering ordinances support humane initiatives while supporting public health and safety. Most homes pay a portion of the cost of spaying their pet; it is arguably one of the few times in which an at-risk animal is not a taxpayer burden. It is time to prevent tragedies instead of reacting to them.



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9th Annual Spay / Neuter Campaign Kicks Off Today!

posted February 1st, 2013 by
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Ready to get those pets snipped?  “It’s Hip to Snip,” OAA’s spay and neuter campaign kicks off today and lasts all month long!.  Through our partnership with Spay Oklahoma, Oklahoma Spay Network, Neuter Sooner and The Mobile Pet Vet, OAA will be offering over fifteen hundred “FIX ME” vouchers.  These $10-off coupons will allow some low income households to fix their pets for as little as $5, or in some cases for FREE!

Last year’s event set a one-month record with 1,850+ animals sterilized.  The voucher program has been very popular and we hope that this year it will give even more people the extra incentive to spay and neuter.

The sad truth is that an estimated 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year in the U.S.  Spaying and neutering are proven methods of reducing pet overpopulation.  Programs like “It’s Hip to Snip” are making a difference in our communities by preventing the births of countless of unwanted litters and educating people about Oklahoma’s pet overpopulation crisis.

At OAA, we believe “It’s Hip to Snip” all year long!

Tim Arnold Pet Silhouettes at Dog Dish

posted January 25th, 2013 by
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Tim Arnold

Nationally known silhouette artist Tim Arnold will be at Dog Dish on February 23rd to cut custom pet silhouettes.

Bring your pet or bring a picture of your pet’s profile for Tim to cut freehand in just minutes.
Each guest will get 2 silhouettes – a right facing and a left facing.

2 Custom silhouettes…….$40
Additional copies…………..$10

Please call Dog Dish to set up an appointment. Availability from 10am to 6pm, scheduled 5 minutes apart.

Check out Tim’s work: