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1998

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Abused Ponies Find Desperately Needed Homes Through HorseAid

(Article: HorseAid HQ, sources: Becky Burns, HorseAid KS/MO; Kansas City Star; MSNBC.com, Hard Copy TV)

ALL the 231 surviving ponies found starving and abused on Neuman Stern's farm in Miami County, Kansas, have been placed in HorseAid SafeHouses or adopted out through the HorseAid adoption programme (of those original 240 ponies, 9 had to be humanly euthanized because of severe malnourishment and/or serious injuries beyond the point of saving with any "quality of life" expectancy).

This was a joint rescue effort of the Humane Society of the Heartland and IGHA/HorseAid, with assistance also provided by the Kansas Horse Council and the University of Kansas Veterinarian School.

All the above mentioned organizations (plus many, many individuals) were involved in one way or another in caring for the ponies while awaiting placement by HorseAid.

The rescued herd is a Hackney mix and has been more or less "free-ranging" without much care for almost ten years (borne out by the many skeletal pony remains found on Neuman Stern's property). According to Joedy Kleiner, the Director of the Humane Society of the Heartland (and the person that asked HorseAid to take over the rescue), the animals were walking skeletons.

This has been called the largest recorded group of severely abused ponies to be rescued in U.S. history, and their rescue could not have been accomplished without the combined efforts of the above named organizations, and the many caring individuals furnishing HorseAid SafeHouses and adoptive homes, goods, services, and other needs (and these needs will continue to grow, as almost all the rescued mares are in foal).

Special attention should go to Joedy Kleiner (Humane Society of the Heartland), who was the first responder, was awarded custody of the animals by the court -- and then unconditionally donated all of them to HorseAid with the court's blessing, Lise Murchison (the Kansas Horse Council), who alerted HorseAid to these abused ponies, and then acted as rescue liaison, Joe and Linda Grant, who first reported the abuse (and then followed through on their abuse complaint), Jean Smith (IGHA/HorseAid Executive Committee), who spent many hours and some of her own funds to coordinate the rescue, and Becky Burns (IGHA/HorseAid KS/MO Chapter Coordinator), who made it all come together by doing (and is still doing) most of the "hands on" with the abused animals (feeding/watering, hauling hay, getting supplies, making court appearances, handling the adoptions, etc.) and who also spent vast amounts of her own time and personal funds attending to this rescue. Thank you all on behalf of these rescued animals!

Despite some negative predictions (all unfulfilled) of a very minuscule group of nay sayers and mud slingers spreading unfounded "FUD" (Fear, Uncertainty, & Doubt) about this rescue, HorseAid was able to successfully and safely place over 80% of the rescued herd into approved adoptive HorseAid homes and SafeHouses within a 2 1/2 week period (and within 5 weeks of first being alerted of this situation), and all under our unfailing basic tenet to: "Do whatever is best for the ponies, PERIOD". Which is exactly what has been accomplished.

While others saw this rescue as just another means to make a huge profit (the herd was estimated to have a market value of over $200,000) or generate revenue producing publicity, HorseAid (and those groups and individuals directly involved with us) saw it as a means to make a huge difference for the better in the lives of these long suffering ponies.

The 16 remaining ponies (see following article) being kept on Neuman Stern's Miami County farm (along with 34 others currently being SafeHoused) are now available for placement (UPDATE: only 29, the last of the rescued head, are available for adoption -- see following article for details) into long-term HorseAid SafeHouses or adoption through the HorseAid program. All are healthy (except for a few still somewhat emaciated).

They have all been vaccinated, wormed, feet trimmed, treated for whatever minor ailments or injuries they had, and been Coggins tested. There are health certificates for each one (with at least a six week medical history). They are mostly all bay colored and size range is from 11 to 13.2 hands.

The above groups are requesting a small $25 fee per pony to cover the cost of HorseAid's "No Kill" freeze branding or microchip embedding, which will be collected by the company performing the freeze branding or microchip embedding at the time it is done.

If you, or anyone you know can help in any way, including pasture, services or a SafeHouse, please contact us.



Last 16 Rescued Ponies Moved

(Article: HorseAid HQ, source: Becky Burns, HorseAid KS/MO)

The last 16 ponies were removed off of convicted horse abuser Neuman Stern's Miami County farm on Saturday, December 19 by Becky Burns, KS/MO HorseAid Chapter Coordinator and her volunteers. All the ponies were safely relocated to temporary HorseAid SafeHouses and are now out of any immediate danger from Mr. Stern.

The move was accomplished just in time -- as the local weather took a drastic turn for the worse on Sunday morning, bringing with it a combination of sleet, ice, and rain. Had the ponies been left on Mr. Sterns farm, they would have been without adequate shelter from the worsening weather (and possibly, Mr. Stern himself).

Alarmingly, Becky Burns reported to HorseAid HQ's on Sunday, December 20, that: "Mr. Stern confronted me yesterday out on the land when we were loading the last 7 ponies into a trailer to go to a SafeHouse. I called the Sheriff's Department and reported it."

By his above recent action, it now seems clear that far from being repentant or sorry about his sole role in what is being called the largest horse abuse case in U.S. history, Mr. Stern is only sorry he was caught. HorseAid wonders if this is the repentance that Miami County Administrative Judge Stephen D. Hill intended for Neuman Stern?


 

Miami County Horse Owner Enters Guilty Plea

(sources: MSNBC.com; Kansas City Star)

The man accused of neglecting more than two hundred ponies entered a plea agreement on Thursday, October 1st. Members on both sides of the issue seem to be satisfied with the deal.

In Miami County (KS) court Tuesday afternoon, Neuman Stern pleaded "not guilty" to 18 counts of animal cruelty charges, and then talked of his love for the horses he's accused of leaving in horrendous conditions.

But Thursday, Stern entered a plea agreement, pleading guilty to all charges. According to the agreement, Stern would serve two years of probation with another two years of probation pending.

Stern would turn ownership of the horses over to the Humane Society of the Heartland, and would not be allowed to possess or control any animal during his probation. Stern would also pay a five-thousand dollar fine and serve 240 hours of community service.

Judge Hill reserved the right to accept the agreement or hand down another sentence at Mr. Stern's sentencing hearing set for November 12th.



Miami County Horse Abuser Sentenced


(source: Kansas City Star; HorseAid Legal)

On Thursday, November12, Judge Hill sentenced Neuman Stern to three years in jail.

Stern, 62, pleaded guilty last month to 18 counts of cruelty to animals and gave his more than 200 Hackney ponies and a $5,000 check to the Humane Society of the Heartland.

In exchange, Miami County Attorney David Miller recommended a sentence of probation and community service. But Miami County Administrative Judge Hill dismissed the agreement Thursday. "There comes a time when people have to understand that if we've been given dominion over animals, we are responsible for them," Hill told Stern. "That's what I want you to understand and feel today."

Stern was sentenced to pay whatever it costs to take care of the animals until they are adopted. He also must pay for improvements that volunteers are making to his land as they care for the herd. "I don't think you should be rewarded by having your place improved because you neglected animals," Hill said.

Miller told the judge that he made the plea agreement because it seemed like the best thing for the animals and for justice. It meant that the ponies didn't need to be corralled a second time for a defense expert to examine them and that the Humane Society could start taking care of the animals immediately.

Miller, answering a question from the judge, said he felt bound to keep his side of the agreement and not to ask for more punishment. Hill interrupted: "You saw those animals? Were you unmoved by the suffering you saw?" Miller answered: "I was not unmoved. There was no doubt in my mind that those animals were suffering."

Stern's attorney, Sidney Willens, told the judge that the plea agreement included enough punishment to shock and humiliate Stern. Stern testified that he tried to take care of the animals, which cost him $18,000 to $20,000 a year. "I got in over my head," Stern said. "I'm so sorry. I was in denial; it's the only thing I can say. I would do anything for those horses. They were my life. Without those horses, my life is nothing."

The judge did not seem moved. He said that he grew up on a farm and that his father sometimes made him take care of the livestock of a neighboring couple, who lived in the city. "I've come to the conclusion that you're a city dweller with absolutely no knowledge of animal husbandry, and because of your ignorance, the animals that you are emotionally attached to were not properly cared for," Hill said.

Hill toured the ranch last month and said the animals didn't have a single blade of grass to eat. They had even eaten all the bark off the trees, he said.

Seven had severely deformed hooves and three were missing an eye. Volunteers earlier had to have a pony euthanized that was found injured and trapped in a collapsed barn, and was long beyond salvation with any expectation for a "quaility of life".

The judge asked Thursday how long the animal had been there. Six months, Stern said. Hill paused and then issued the jail sentence. "I want you to think about that horse that was trapped in that building for six months," Hill said. "I want you to think about that while you're over there, but rest assured that you're going to be treated better than you treated your horses."

Stern, who had no criminal history, has until Thursday to surrender. In the meantime, he can apply for probation. The sentence satisfied Humane Society of the Heartland director Joedy Kleiner. HorseAid volunteers have found homes for 119 of the ponies, she said, and she hopes that the rest of the herd will be in HorseAid approved adopted homes or "SafeHouses" by Thanksgiving.



Convicted Miami County Horse Abuser Released


(source: Kansas City Star; HorseAid Legal)

In a move that left many people close to the Miami County pony abuse case shocked, Neuman Stern, who had been in jail just one month, was released on Tuesday, December 15, 1988, after serving just 30 days of a three year jail sentence. Mr. Stern will be on probation for at least two years, Miami County Administrative Judge Stephen D. Hill ordered.

County Attorney David Miller can request an additional two years of probation before the sentence ends. Stern, 62, also must perform 240 hours of community service and pay for improvements that volunteers made at his northeast Miami County ranch while they rescued the herd of more than 200 Hackney ponies, Miller said.

At the beginning of the 15-minute hearing Tuesday, the judge referred to letters that Stern's attorney, Sidney Willens, wrote about the health of Stern's mother. Stern's brother testified that Stern took care of his mother and that she had suffered anxiety and heart trouble since his legal troubles began. The judge, Miller said, "seemed to rely heavily on Mr. Stern's mother and her physical condition and the support he is giving to her." After Stern's brother spoke, Miller recommended that the judge sentence Stern to probation. He made the same recommendation at Stern's November 12th sentencing, but Hill dismissed the plea agreement and imposed the jail sentence.

Rescuers said Stern's ponies had gone without food and water for some time before authorities started investigating in September. HorseAid volunteers treated the horses and found new homes for them.



Latest News on Killing of 34 "Wild" Horses
(IGHA/HorseAid Initiates Reward Fund for Conviction)

Murdered horse


Lyles, TN Equine (& dog) Abuse Case

Horse & Dog Skulls

(source: WSMV TV; Hickman County Times; IGHA/HorseAid; "Melanie"; Roland Windsor Vincent, L.C.A.)

Latest information from our primary investigation into the Lyles TN abuse case:

On December 21, 1998, a Hickman County, TN, woman was charged with 195 counts of animal cruelty. The local Humane Society says the woman ran a kind of puppy factory, keeping about 300 dogs and puppies in what they describe as "deplorable conditions."

The woman's name is Patricia P. Adkisson, she is also a breeder of purebred Arabian horses (she had 28 Arabians registered in her name a few years ago according to the AHR). She also has a son, Mark T. Adkisson, who owned 4 Arabian horses as of the 1996 Arabian Horse Registry CD.

The organization overseeing the rescue is: the Hickman County Humane Association (Hickman Humane Society: 931.729.1011 or 931.729.0095).

According to the Hickman County Times, Dec 28, a local vet and an extension agent checked on the horses. Of 9 horses seen (no particular breed was mentioned) the vet stated "a couple of them were thin" but none were being mistreated or neglected. Adkisson's son was advised to begin using a 14% protein feed to the yearlings and mares and give additional hay.

Also, according to this article, 38 horses had been counted on that property on Dec 17. Mrs. Adkisson's son told them that the rest of the horses had been sold. 2 horses had died sometime between the 22nd and 24th, when the weather turned sharply colder.

Mary Sexton, the Hickman Humane Society President, stated that several dead animals were observed during the initial visit, and she saw bones and carcasses of horses and goats on the property. What she saw indicated that at least some of them had been shot. Whether or not these were the carcasses seen by the Humane Society President was not mentioned in this article.

Patricia P. Adkisson is scheduled for arraignment on the animal cruelty charges in Hickman County court, on Monday January 11th at 9:00 a.m. CST. The assistant D.A. handling the case is Jud Phillips (615.794.7275). The clerk's office in Hickman County (for information about the hearing) can be contacted at: 931.729.2211


Horse Country Rears Up Against Proposed Slaughterhouse

By Sarah Downey, Chicago Tribune

The report that Velda Group wants to open a meat-packing plant in McHenry County was just more good news for the region's booming economy.

Forty new jobs would be created in Big Foot, a town of 85 people tucked along the Wisconsin border.

But cries of protest went up when animal lovers learned that Velda slaughters horses and ships the meat to Europe for human consumption and that it had chosen McHenry County--home to the largest horse population in Illinois--for its next slaughterhouse. On average, the plant is expected to kill about 150 horses a week.

Lawyers for Velda will argue their case next month at a public hearing before the McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals, which has to approve a conditional use permit for the slaughterhouse.

Equine lovers say they will be there, too, en masse.

"It's cruel and unusual punishment," said Barb Markus, who helps out at the Five Corner Farm in Marengo. "This is very much a horse community. The horses are well taken care of, and people in this area use them for their intended use--as show horses or for riding or hunting."

Velda, a stalwart in the steadily declining horsemeat industry, obviously sees things differently. Company officials declined to comment on the plan past their written proposal and literature.

The Belgium-based company taps a lucrative market in Europe for horsemeat, which is not forbidden for human consumption by laws and social attitudes as it is in the United States. The meat, for example, is sold on Paris sidewalks and served in award-winning French and Belgian restaurants.

The company publishes a glossy brochure that attempts to cast the meat in an appetizing light. Horsemeat, it says, is low in calories and fat, high in protein and iron, and much sweeter than other meats. Families are pictured strolling hand in hand through fields, presumably fueled by a diet of horse tenderloin, clod, knuckle and neck, cuts of which are featured on the pages that follow.

Velda deals in horsemeat the way some U.S. companies deal in chicken, making 48,000 deliveries a year.

Such dominance of the European market has provided steady employment for the staff of 25 at Velda's DeKalb plant, Cavel International, which opened during the industry's peak in 1987. Despite a general decline in the horsemeat industry, Cavel International still has annual revenues of $15 million. It is Illinois' only USDA-approved horse-slaughtering facility, just one of four in the United States, and the only one that ships exclusively for human consumption overseas.

In a proposal submitted to the county Zoning Board last month, Luc Van Damme, head of the family-run Velda, outlined his plan to move Cavel International to a former cattle-processing plant owned by Vienna Beef Co. on U.S. Highway 14 in Big Foot.

The petition assures the board that all killing procedures would comply with USDA laws. The plant also would be regulated by the Illinois Horsemeat Act and the state Department of Agriculture.

Selling horsemeat for human consumption in Illinois has been outlawed since the 1950s.

"To some people it would be like eating dog meat," said Patrick Hogan of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. "It's really more emotional than anything else. A lot of people would be horrified at the thought of eating a companion animal."

The Humane Society of the United States reports that horsemeat consumption is on its way out, spurred by both stricter legislation and increased protest. In the late 1980s, there were 12 horse slaughterhouses in the country, compared with four now. One of the casualties was Velda's Cavel West plant in Redmond, Ore., which was targeted by the radical Animal Liberation Front and burned to the ground in July 1997.

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, 60,946 horses were slaughtered for consumption in the first 11 months of this year. That amounts to an 80 percent drop from the 300,263 slaughtered in 1988.

Flossmoor businessman Tony Boggiano, a member of the American Importers and Exporters Meat Products Group, dabbled in the horsemeat trade in the 1970s. He believes the industry remains viable because American horses are often less expensive than European ones.

"Obviously, as long as horsemeat is acceptable for human consumption in different parts of the world, you'll always have slaughterhouses here in the U.S.," Boggiano said.

Wild horses have few natural predators, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has tried to control the population through its Wild Burro and Horse Adoption Program. But the horses often end up at livestock auctions targeted by independent buyers, known around the horse circuit as "killer buyers." The buyers pay bottom dollar for horses no one else wants, then cart them to slaughter for human or animal consumption.

"Any horse that's under $1,000 has a good chance of being bought by the killers," said Dora Christensen, a trainer at the Free-N-Bold Horse Farm in West Dundee. Once, at an Indiana auction, she offered a buyer $50 more than what he had paid. He obliged because his truck was already full, said Christensen, who named that horse Lucky and got it a job pulling carriages in downtown Chicago.

"Some people think that's inhumane," Christensen said, "but if these horses weren't pulling a carriage, they wouldn't be getting fed every night. They'd be in a can" as dog food.

The method for slaughtering horses is the same as for cattle: The animals are crowded into pens until their time is up, then they are marched one-by-one to the killing floor. Each is rendered unconscious, then the throat is slit so the horse meets the USDA requirement of being bled to death.

The Velda plan "would break my heart," said Sheridan Cernik, past president of the Barrington Hills Riding Club. "If a horse has to go, you want it to have death with dignity."

But if the idea is stomach-turning to some, many Big Foot residents are not so queasy. They say another business--no matter what kind--would help their town's economy. Since the cattle plant on the two-acre Vienna property closed in October, sales have fallen at The Little Country Store next door.

"The only benefit is it would help us," said assistant store manager Jenni Sommers. "But at the same time, slaughtering horses is not something that I think is ethical."

Jerry Casteel works at the auto dealership nearby, and he believes Big Foot will have hard economic times if Cavel is kept out of town.

"The little stores here rely on the local business, and a slaughterhouse creates business in Big Foot," Casteel said.

Horse devotees from beyond Big Foot don't necessarily sympathize.

"Horses should not be used for food," said Juanita Kennedy, who owns five horses and takes weekly rides at the Barrington Hills Riding Center. "It's offensive to animal lovers. Anybody who's a horseman won't be in favor of it."

Donna Ewing, head of the Hooved Animal Humane Society in Woodstock, calls slaughterhouses "a necessary evil," a better fate for some horses than starving to death. But she feels slaughtering standards industrywide are far from humane.

"It's really a dilemma," Ewing said, "but as much as it hurts me and I hate to see it, a state-of-the-art slaughterhouse could put down horses quickly without putting them through suffering."

Still, Ewing believes that if it must be done, at least do it outside of McHenry County. "I would think right on Highway 14, right out in the open, would be a travesty," she said.


1998 Ballot Initiative to: Ban the Sale of Horses to Slaughter

Vote YES!  YES!
on
Proposition 6

1998 California Ballot Measure

to

Ban the Sale of Horses to Slaughter



PASSED!

THANK YOU fellow Californians!

IGHA/HorseAid strongly supported Proposition 6.

End All Horse End All Horse Slaughter NOW!Slaughter NOW!



California Bill 598 (Prop 6):


The LaTuna Canyon (CA) Rescue
(and the politics involved...)


Woman is Charged with Animal Cruelty

The Associated Press


(source: the Raleigh News and Observer, Dec. 25, 1998)

SALISBURY -- Nine bony, starving horses seized by Rowan County officials have evoked an outpouring of donated money, food and adoption offers from animal lovers outraged by the animals' condition.

The owner, Carolyn Nance of Salisbury, has been charged with 11 misdemeanor charges, including animal cruelty. Seven more of her horses were seized Wednesday, and Nance may face additional charges, according to WBTV in Charlotte. No details were immediately available on their condition. The nine starving animals taken into custody early this week were near death, officials said.

They said two of Nance's other horses have died in the last few weeks. Several of the horses lost or damaged their teeth after gnawing on metal bars and chewing on empty feed buckets, said animal control officer Robin Cook. Rowan County officials have charged Nance with nine counts of animal cruelty, one charge of communicating threats and one charge of assault with a deadly weapon. Nance allegedly threatened to run officials over with her sport utility vehicle when they went to pick up the horses. Her first court appearance is set for Jan. 27 in Rowan County District Court. The horses are being kept at an undisclosed location.

Animal lovers -- many with tears in their eyes -- have flooded the Rowan County Animal Shelter in Salisbury with offers hay, feed, apples, carrots, money, help and concern for the horses in custody. Sara McCubbins, owner of Triple Springs Horse Run in Salisbury, observed the conditions in which some of Nance's horses lived. "Two of these three babies are standing in locked stalls, knee-deep in water and manure, while 10 bales of hay [are] in a nearby feed room," she said. One sorrel mare was too weak to stand when county workers found it Friday. Its hide, muddied from lying on the ground and infected by fungus, stretched tightly across its ribs. County animal control officers confiscated that horse, a pregnant mare and seven others, after anonymous callers notified the county Friday about the animals' emaciated state.

Shelter employees spent the weekend getting together the equipment required for the rescue. Numerous people from several counties have offered to adopt the horses, but the animals for now remain Nance's property, animal control officials said. Retired food-service worker Jean Weathers went to the shelter Tuesday, her face and eyes red from the cold and from tears. She handed over two $100 bills. She said the gift was in memory of her husband and her dog, both deceased. County workers said donors also gave 60 fifty-pound bags of sweet feed and 75 bales of hay. Countless people volunteered to board the horses or help clean up after them. Cook said the horses will be fed hay and a half-gallon bucket of feed twice a day for two to three weeks and given as much water as they will drink. Gradually, the feed will be increased to a gallon a day.


Men Befriend Horses, then Stab Them to Death

Barling, Ark. - Two horses stabbed to death


(source: Susan Roghair)

Two horses were stabbed to death and eight others wounded after being befriended in pastures and lured to the front of their stalls with food, police said Sunday.

"It's very impersonal to drive by and shoot a horse", police spokeswoman Victoria Harris said. "But it's another thing to be nice, befriend the horse, and then stab it to death. Anyone who can look into the soft, brown eyes of a horse and then stab it has the profile of a serial killer", Harris said.

The attacks took place early Saturday at three farms in rural Barling in western Arkansas. "We are all very angry, upset, confused. I just don't understand", owner Ramona Bailey said.


Brian Franzen, of the "Franzen
Brothers Circus", pleads guilty

Convicted on 2 counts of violating California Penal Code 597


(Received from the District Attorney's Office for the County of San Bernardino, CA)

Dear Breana Zweben, IGHA/HorseAid;

This is to advise you that Brian Franzen, of the Franzen Brothers circus, plead guilty this morning to 2 misdemeanor counts of violation of California Penal Code 597F, failure to care for animals.

He will be on probation for 3 years, 60 days county jail was stayed pending successful completion of probation, his terms of probation include not to abuse or neglect any animals, allow search of property and premises under his control without search warrant; notify agriculture inspectors in each state in which he does business of his arrival. This allows any sworn peace officer animal control official to search Mr. Franzen at any time.

Our office feels this is a fair resolution of this matter.

Thank you again for your assistance in this case.

Douglas Poston, Deputy District Attorney for the County of San Bernardino.

Thank YOU Mr. Poston!

Deputy District Attorney Douglas Poston saw this case for what it was; gross animal abuse, and acted accordingly. Instead of taking the "easy way out" he aggressively investigated the case and then guided it (against a well known and experienced animal abuse defense attorney Mr. Franzen hired) to a successful prosecution. Mr. Franzen is no stranger to animal abuse charges and thankfully Douglas Poston made sure that Mr. Franzen received more that the cursory "slap on the wrist" he has received in the past. HorseAid applauds Mr. Poston for his successful efforts on behalf of all the equines and other animals abused by Mr. Franzen.


Shipper of Slaughter bound Horses
Enters Plea Agreement in N.Y. State

Assistant DA Lets Repeat Offender Off Easy


(source: Chris Berry, EPN)

(December 2, 1998, Assistant District Attorney Mark Montayne, 518-873-3335.)

Schroon Lake, NY - Donald Nickerson, Bainbridge, N.Y., owner of Nickerson Livestock,entered a plea agreement of guilty to 14 counts of the illegal transportation of horses on November 28, 1998 in Schroon N.Y. Town Court. Schroon Town Justice Jean R. Strothenke fined Mr. Nickerson the maximum of $1400.00 for 14 counts of the illegal transport of horses.

Mr. Nickerson faced fines of up to $6400, $100 for each horse transported in violation of the law. This case involved two "legends" in the prosecution of horse slaughter shippers. However,despite the fact that Nickerson's arrest was made by New York State Trooper Thomas Garcia, a veteran of these cases, and the case was heard before the same Town Justice, Strothenke, who fined Frank Carper & Sons, Cranbury, NJ $11,100, in the infamous Horse Popsicle Case in January 1994, Assistant DA Mark Montayne allowed Nickerson to plead to 14 counts instead of the 64 he was charged with by Trooper Garcia.

Trooper Garcia, who testified at the PA House Judiciary Committee hearings on PA HB 2127 and who has over 200 arrests involving the illegal transport of horses, arrested Mr. Nickerson on 64 counts of New York State's Agriculture & Markets Law, Section 359-a on August 26, 1998. The arrest came after a 10 month investigation into an incident that took place on October 15, 1997. A driver for Nickerson Livestock was arrested in Essex County, New York on I-87, "The Torture Trail". The trailer lacked two doorways for ingress and egress, not on the same side as required for trailers transporting six or more horses, and the partitions were spaced more than 10 feet apart in a trailer without stalls. The 32 horses were being transported to a Canadian slaughterhouse for human consumption overseas. Some of the horses were shipped from a Pennsylvania auction barn.

This stretch of I-87, The Adirondack Northway, was nicknamed "The Torture Trail" and drew national attention to the torture of slaughter bound horses being shipped through New York state to Canadian slaughterhouses for human consumption overseas after a trailer was stopped with 85 horses on December 12, 1980. State troopers found 5 dead horses inside the trailer and had to destroy several more. Only 57 horses survived. The truck drivers were fined $300.00. As a result the New York State Legislature passed by unanimous vote the strongest horse transport law in the country.

Donald Nickerson and Nickerson Livestock have been involved in previous incidents involving the illegal transportation of horses in New York state. Kevin Nickerson, son of Donald Nickerson, was arrested on Monday January 19, 1998 on I-81 in Kirkwood, New York by New York State Trooper Steven Cornell. There were 27 horses and mules on the double deck trailer, the majority of which were purchased at the New Holland Sales Stables in New Holland, PA.

In an apparent attempt to receive the smallest possible fine, the defendants told Broome County, New York Assistant DA Cheryl Eichan that this was their first offense and they had no knowledge of the law. Eichan learned from New York State Police and former Essex County, New York Assistant DA Debra Whitson, now with the New York State Attorney General's Office, that in fact Nickerson Livestock had another case pending in Essex County, New York and had been the company involved in the infamous "Syracuse 36" case that drew national attention on ESPN in 1995.

Mr. Kevin Nickerson, agent for Nickerson Livestock, Bainbridge, New York was convicted after trial on April 1, 1998 in Kirkwood, N.Y. Town Court. Mr. Nickerson was fined and paid the maximum of $3000.00 for 30 counts of illegal transport of horses.

On July 22, 1998 New York Governor Pataki signed into law Senate Bill 6332 introduced in March 1998 by Senator Kuhl, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The bill raises the fines for violating New York State's Agriculture and Markets law, Section 359-a, the illegal transport of horses. The fines were raised from $100 to $250 for a first violation and from $500 to $1000 for a second conviction. The fines are PER horse, PER violation. The new fines take effect on November 1, 1998.

In 1996 the Commercial Transportation of Horses To Slaughter Act was passed. For 2 years the USDA did not request funding to draft and implement guidelines. All indications are that the guidelines that the USDA issues will legalize every inhumane practice that was identified in the transportation of horses to slaughter. Sadly the majority of horse publications continue to refer to the act as "The Safe Commercial Transportation of Horses To Slaughter Act" when the words, "safe and "humane" do not exist anywhere in the law.

Related Story


Secretariat still a Winner!

U.S. Postal Service Announces Winners for New Stamp Series



(courtesy the "Bloodhorse")


(source: U.S. Postal Service)

Beginning September 1st, 1998, the U.S. Postal Service began soliciting nominations for its "Celebrate the Century" new stamp promotion.

In late November, they announced that Secretariat has been chosen as one of the most enduring symbols of the 1970s. The 1973 Triple Crown winner was the 14th vote-getter on a list of 15 images which will appear on U. S. Postage Stamps beginning in late 1999.


NEWS RELEASE: September 14, 1998


(source: Lesley Walker, Director of Community Outreach, PHS)

HorseAid Field Rep, John Michael Alaura, of N. California HorseAid, received the 1998 Peninsula Humane Societies Award "for all the many things he has personally done to make the world a better place for so many horses".

The award was presented at the PHS Annual Award Celebration on September 11, 1998.

Our sincerest congratulations to John for receiving this prestigious award, and to the Peninsula Humane Society for its recognition of HorseAid's work, and John Alaura's many accomplishments and steadfast dedication to the horses.


Horse Cruelty & the Legal System vs. HorseAid

Animal Control says horse was stolen;
HorseAid says owners starved animals.

Horse abuser pleads "No Contest" on 6/11/98
(scroll down for story details)

Spice Girl (aka Chiquita)

"Spice Girl" (aka "Chiquita")

"We tried to get Animal Control to go in and do their job.
Animal Control... didn't do anything." --HorseAid Rep, Kelly James


The following details the circumstances leading to the involvement of HorseAid in the "self-help" rescue of the mare Chiquita (now called "Spice Girl") by the HorseAid representative Kelly James acting on behalf of, and under the direction of, HorseAid (some of the quotes and text are taken from the 3/24/98 copyrighted The Union article by Tim Omarzu):

Chuck and Cheryl Taylor, a couple involved in a bitter divorce, kept three horses at their home on 10 acres near McCourtney Road in Grass Valley, CA. Two of the three horses died last month, either through starvation or after mountain lion attacks, depending on which spouse you ask.

Two weeks ago, horse rescuers sneaked the surviving horse, a skeletal mare, off the Taylor's property and took it to a Penn Valley ranch, where it has fattened up by 100 pounds. On Friday, just as Nevada County Animal Control planned to return the mare to Chuck Taylor, it disappeared. "The horse was stolen." says Paul Boch, chief of Animal Control. "Unless you're a humane officer, no one has the right to take a horse off someone's property." Boch believes the horse is still in the hands of those who first took the animal from the Taylor property.

Animal control knew about the horses' neglect yet did nothing, charges Kelly James, who fed the emaciated mare on her Penn Valley ranch. James belongs to HorseAid, a Palos Verdes (CA) based horse rescue group. "We tried to get Animal Control to do their job," said James. "They didn't do anything, and they were going to give the mare back to the Taylors."

"They (the HorseAid people) are correct, we didn't do it," Boch said. An animal control officer investigated the allegations in February, but didn't do the usual 10-day follow up, Boch conceded.

After the horse was taken to the James' ranch, Animal Control agreed to let it stay there and notified Chuck Taylor. He was set to pick the horse up on Saturday. However, James says that some unknown person took the horse on Friday morning while she was at work. James reported it missing to the Sheriff's Department. James denies any involvement in taking the horse from the Taylor property the first time or in its disappearance on Friday.

Boch is asking that Cheryl Taylor be charged with misfeeding the mare, a misdemeanor.

Chuck Taylor blames his wife for the horse's condition. "She didn't feed it. She let two other horses starve to death," he alleges.

The couple have mutual restraining orders, Chuck Taylor said, that kept them away from their home on Sequa Way until February 16, when he went to bury one of the two horses. "I had to get my dog away from it," he said. He said he watched the second horse die while burying the first.

Cheryl Taylor counters that her horses didn't starve to death. "Two were attacked by mountain lions. Then rodents came along and ate them." Her husband wouldn't pay to feed the horses and wouldn't pay to move them from the property, she said. "I don't make diddly-squat. My husband left me to feed the horses for three months. He wouldn't help me on the feed. It's partly my fault. I'll take part of the blame. But I won't take all of it."

Chuck Taylor, who says the horses are worth a total of $6,000 said: "I don't want charges against anybody. I just want the horse back."

NOTE: After that story ran, reporter Tim Omarzu had another report about Chuck Taylor, on a completely unrelated item. Chuck Taylor was arrested for possession of stolen property. He posted $5,000 bail, and still has not pressed charges against HorseAid in the disappearance of the mare, whose whereabouts are still unknown.


The arraignment of Charles "Chuck" Murray Taylor and Cheryl Lynn Taylor -- Taylor's estranged wife, on charges of animal cruelty was held on 4/20/98. See the 4/21/98 "The Union" article by Tim Omarzu for the results of the arraignment (update posted on 4/21/98).


Horse abuser pleads "No Contest" -- On 6/11/98, Cheryl Lynn Taylor was sentenced to 300 hours of community service at an animal shelter or other nonprofit organization in Nevada County that benefits animals. Taylor pleaded no contest to charges of failing to care for "Chiquita," the horse taken by HorseAid, and "Dusty," a horse whose emaciated carcass was found in February at Taylor's property. See the 6/12/98 "The Union" article by Tim Omarzu for the complete details of the sentencing.

Co-defendant Charles Murray Taylor, Taylor's estranged husband was to face trial July 7 on charges of animal cruelty and neglect, but he was granted a continuance until the 27th of August, at which time he was granted yet another continuance, and then another, and another, and another. He STILL has no firm court date scheduled on this matter (it seems the new D.A. is more interested in aggressively prosecuting him on the stolen property charge instead of the animal abuse charges at the present time).


"King of the Cowboys" Roy Rogers Dead

NEWS RELEASE: July 6, 1998


Roy Rogers and Trigger

.WAV file - Happy Trails



Apple Valley, CA (by Joal Ryan/E-Online!, and HorseAid Founder, Enzo Giobbé)

Roy Rogers, the actor/singer/entrepreneur who for a generation of baby boomers raised in front of the TV was the quintessential Hollywood cowboy, died today. He was 86. Cause of death was congestive heart failure, a spokeswoman said. The hat-wearing good guy, passed away at his home in Apple Valley, California.

In all, he starred in 87 movies. A TV show, featuring the signature theme, "Happy Trails to You" (sung by he and his wife), ran from 1951 to 1957.

Said President Clinton today: "I really appreciate what he stood for, the movies he made and the kind of values they embodied...Like most people my age, I grew up on Roy Rogers..."

Born Leonard Slye on November 5, 1911 (other sources list 1912), in Cincinnati, the future Roy Rogers performed with the singing group, the Son of the Pioneers, before getting his big movie break in 1938's "Under Western Stars". Rogers was a replacement for the other king of cowboys, Gene Autry.

Rogers married Evans in 1947, an actress/singer who co-starred with him in 1944's The Cowboy and the Senorita. It was his third marriage (the first was annulled, the second ended in death); her fourth. This was the union that took.

As a businessman, Rogers was no tenderfoot. Real estate investments and a fast-food chain bearing his name made him a multi-millionaire. In 1992, the veteran entertainer shared a Country Music Association award with singer Clint Black, his youthful mirror image, for their duet, "Hold On Partner."

In addition to his wife, Rogers is survived by two sons and three daughters. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday.

Faithful horse Trigger preceded the cowboy star in death, in 1965. A stuffed and mounted version of the hooved one is on display at Rogers and Evans' museum near their Apple Valley home. Although Rodgers was criticized for stuffing Trigger, Rogers said of the famed Palomino: "So many people loved him through the years that I just didn't have the heart to put him in the ground."

While known primarily for his "screen personae", Rodgers had many varied interests. Besides being a suburb horseman, he was a skilled sailor, a talented race car driver, and had dabbled in motorcycle racing as well. A very intelligent and complex person, he was nonetheless, respected and admired by both peers and fans alike. He will be missed.



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