“It was very nerve-racking. We lost two to kill buyers and we had to get them later [from the kill buyers for an extra $100 apiece]. It was a happy ending anyway.”
Murrell paid $4,480 for the nine horses.
One horse was bought by a private family.
“If the American people knew what was going on with this they’d say this has got to stop,” says Murrell.
“I’m against abuse and cruelty and the slaughtering of horses. The way it’s done in Mexico and Canada is abusive and cruel. There are too many horses and too many owners that due to the economy and other factors don’t do the right thing,” he says.
A hot topic
Although the ban has been in effect for five years, the political atmosphere in the US is shifting for myriad reasons, including droughts and rising hay prices that have forced increasing numbers of horse abandonments, according to the Unwanted Horse Coalition. New Mexico and Missouri already have filed applications to open horse slaughtering plants. Oklahoma and Wyoming are in the planning stages and Texas is having congressional hearings on the issue.
There are some surprising opinions. The Horse Council of New Mexico overwhelmingly favors a local horse slaughtering plant to stop the “needless suffering under the cruelest conditions” of transporting horses over long distances.
Congress recently restored US Department of Agriculture funding for inspections of horse slaughterhouses. That was the technicality that closed existing US horse slaughterhouses five years ago.
Tracing the long journey from auction to slaughterhouse is horrific, according to Animals’ Angels Inc., a nonprofit group that monitors animal cruelty.
Had kill buyers purchased the mares at the Round Mountain auction, they would have been placed in pens at Presidio, Texas, near the Mexican border, according to Sonja Meadows, the executive director of Animals’ Angels.
“One of our volunteers found horses in severe distress at the pens and multiple dead horses dumped in the area behind the pens along a dry creek,” last year, according to Meadows.
The horses then are shipped to Carnicos de Jerez in the Zacatecas area, 484 miles south of Presidio, according to Meadows.
Animals’ Angels visited the Carnicos de Jerez plant.
“Very emaciated horses, stillborn embryos, mares with foals by their side, and horses unable to rise,” says Meadows. “Most upsetting of all, we documented downed horses being pulled into the plant with a cable winch and a horse being left in the blood-smeared kill box while workers went for their lunch break.”
Rescued in Texas, the nine broodmares were spared that horror, but they still needed homes. Jones called Remember Me Rescue in Burleson, Texas. Founder and trainer Donna Keen was thrilled to help.
“I said, of course,” says Keen. “We will arrange the transportation.”
Keith Asmussen, 71, founder of the Asmussen Horse Center, is a former quarterhorse jockey and father of two famous sons. Steve Asmussen is the Eclipse award-winning trainer of Curlin, who won the Preakness in 2007. Cash Asmussen also won an Eclipse award as outstanding apprentice jockey in 1979 and was a leading jockey overseas.
Keith Asmussen did not return phone and e-mail messages from the Globe seeking comment. He told The Blood-Horse (racing/breeding news) he had no idea the mares were going to slaughter. No laws were violated and no charges were filed.
“My granddaughters buy ponies and other horses up there all the time,” Asmussen told the Blood-Horse. “I wouldn’t have spent $100 a head to haul them to Round Mountain if I was planning on them going to the killers since I live right on the border [of Mexico]. And I damn sure wouldn’t have been sending registration papers with them if I thought they were going to slaughter.”
But Deborah Jones thinks his explanation is manure.
“I think that’s bull, he’s hardly going to turn around and say he knew there were kill buyers there,” she says.
Asked his opinion, Botty chooses his words carefully. In 2008, Suffolk Downs was the first racetrack to institute an anti-slaughter policy.
“I think a man of his position should have been more responsible and everybody in the industry should have been more responsible,” he says. “I’d say that to his face.”Continued...