In West Texas, a State Park Sends Horses to Slaughter

Categories: Park and Rec

BigBendRanchHorses.jpg
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Not all the horses at Big Bend Ranch State Park are quite so content.
For years, Julie Caramante was a leader the fight to shutter Dallas Crown, Kaufman's infamous horse slaughterhouse. Dallas Crown closed in 2007, as did the Beltex slaughterhouse in Fort Worth, but Caramante, a lifelong equine welfare advocate, has continued to keep a close eye on the horse slaughter industry.

That led Caramante to the recent discovery that the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department had sold horses to a known slaughter buyer. According to documents she obtained from the agency following a tip, TPWD had sold 11 horses from Big Bend Ranch State Park to Ruben Brito, who regularly transports horses to slaughterhouses across the border in Mexico. The story was first reported in Horseback Magazine

Included in the documents Caramante obtained is an email exchange between Dan Sholly, deputy director of Texas State Parks, and BBRSP officials.

"Have you been able to determine if we can move forward with this process of culling the horse herd at BBRSP?" wrote Dierdre Hisler, Region 1 State Parks Director.

"I don't recall receiving an answer (could be lost in my e-mails) to my question about sell pricing," Sholly responded. "Are we willing to take canner prices for our horses? Is that all they are worth? No blood lines? No high potential for more than dog food?"

Hisler responded that the horses "are not of QUALITY," and Sholly okayed the sale for $.25 per pound.

Kevin Good, an assistant to the TPWD director, said BBRSP has kept a small contingent of horses at the park to do various jobs.

"As horses do sometimes, they made baby horses," he said. "The herd got to a size where it had to be reduced."

Good said it isn't sure if the local parks staff were aware of Brito's connections to the slaughter industry when they made the sale and, even if they were, he's unsure whether state laws on surplus property would have allowed them to reject the offer.

"The fact is if he's meeting the requirements of a state bidder, we can't exclude him because we may or may not like what their business is," Good said.

That said, TPWD is now reviewing its policies to see if there is a way such a sale could be disallowed.

Caramante is less forgiving, particularly given the way the same state park culled its burro population earlier this year.

"First the park shoots the burro's and now sends the horses to directly to a killer," she wrote in an email. "Guess they don't like anything equine."

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78 comments
Hintercroft
Hintercroft

This is why you shouldn't eat tacos in Mexico!

Margaret
Margaret

The park doesn't like anything "animal" - burros, horses and let's not forget their desire to eradicate the long horn cattle because of "herd management issues".  This is all due to the incompetent park employees that take NO responsibility.  They need to held accountable for their actions and decisions.

 

 Why were stallions not separated from the mares and why were babies not castrated? What would you think would happen without managing a herd?  Rather than being proactive, they decide to do absolutely nothing and allow it to get to a point beyond control.  They then decide to take the easy way out - sell them off to slaughter and make a quick cheap buck. 

 

This state park and board of directors has been plagued with controversy and poor decision making.  When will it finally come to an end?

 

roo_ster
roo_ster

Stupid horsey-diddlers.

 

What did the dumbasses who supported making it illegal to slaughter horses think was going to happen? "Oh, they will all go of into the green meadow to prance around and play, being fed apples by nubile young maidens."

 

Nope.  They'll get sold to a guy with a name curiously similar to "Burrito" and sent down to some Mexican hell-hole slaughterhouse with zero animal cruelty standards to get turned into dog food.  Or, they will be starved to death by folks who can't afford to feed them and now have no way to get rid of them humanely.

 

 

Elizabeth Dana
Elizabeth Dana

I removed them. I apologize but I was making reference to the government not the culture. I have several Asian friends who are very upset of the eating habits of the upper class.including horse slaughter.

Lara Ann Halsmer
Lara Ann Halsmer

And? China is not perfect; no country is perfect; there are many restaurants here that I could never afford to eat at and they serve some fairly strange things. I have Chinese friends as well; and have been there to visit them and their biggest complaint is how westerners condemn food choices and look down on things. So what if they eat these things? I've tasted shark before; it's really good. You fail to realize all these foods are traditional dishes handed down for centuries aka part of their culture.

Elizabeth Dana
Elizabeth Dana

I refer to s a difference between government sauctioned China and the Chinese. I have many friends from China who complain about the eating habits of the well to do who believe eating wild animals like horses will "improve their sexual prowness". They eat shark fin, whales and dolphins as well at very high prices. .The poor can not afford these delicacies.

Lara Ann Halsmer
Lara Ann Halsmer

any and every animal has disease. If this is your argument then maybe we shouldn't eat pork, beef, chicken or any other type of meat; including fish because they can all carry a disease. Let me point out that I am NOT supporting horse slaughter in any way shape or form.

Lara Ann Halsmer
Lara Ann Halsmer

You're thinking of two different countries >_> whales, dolphins and sharks is for Japan and I think horse meat is also considered a delicacy there. Also horses in those countries are raised under the possibility of being eaten they don't have all the chemicals that our horses (being intended for pets) have. The US has allowed plenty of hazards as well. Yes, dogs and cats are raised for eating but honestly that is no different than the way we raise chickens and other stock. I would never eat my dog; but at the same time I will not condemn an entire country and be so disrespectful just because it has different views than myself.

Lara Ann Halsmer
Lara Ann Halsmer

Ok, seriously you don't have to start attacking other cultures. They just pointed out that in our culture we don't eat horses.. true. Some other countries do; you have to respect them. We eat cows and pork other cultures don't and yet we don't see anything wrong with it. I'm completely anti-slaughter but you're being completely childish about the China thing. If you knew anything about that country you would know that the rural places are still poor and people need to eat what they have to survive and FYI the eating of dogs and cats is something that is almost completely gone. The younger generations don't do it; it was an older tradition

mangobaby46
mangobaby46

1. fat kids are fat because they EAT to much and play to many video games, try a little parenting!

2. health education and job, well, any idiot can manage those

3 spending time w/family, how about teach some values to your family. There are tons of options for "thinning the heard"  they chose the quickest and cheapest way. Not everything in life is about the almight dollar.  When you are on your death bed  you think you are gonna wanna hug your wallet?  red sox/pats obviously a northern idiot that believes all southern folks are ignorant.  you see hiking traveling cooking reading saving horses, actaully "raising" our kids.........all customary in the south!  Maybe you should visit sometime and learn how to live.

Amie Selecman
Amie Selecman

Thank you for reporting the truth behind this horrible, horrible act! Horse slaughter MUST be banned and WILL be banned!!

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

We need you people to go from being fanatical about horses, to being fanatical about education, and obesity.....THE, the world would be a better place.  List of priorities:

 

(1-5) Surviving (in no particular order) 

Making a living

Education

Health

Spending time with family

 

6-Red Sox

7-Patriots

8-Hiking

9-Traveling

10-Cooking

11-Reading

..................................................

.................................................

 

147-Saving Horses

148-Traveling to the deep South

 

 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

What do you want TPW to do with them; put them in dormitories?  Works real good in our prison system also?!  The fact remains, that occasionally herds need thinnning, ala hunting-or?.  I hate when folks are so impractical, that they put animals on the same levels as humans.  

 

Here'a an idea, let's give them to poor people in the inner city, so they can kill via starving them. 

rowingisfun
rowingisfun

I see no reason why the burger I just ate couldn't be delicious if horse was used instead of cow.  

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Hundreds if not thousands of thoroughbred horses are shipped through Presidio to Mexico via this guy for slaughter every year.  Think of all the 2 and 3 year olds that can't run.   This is the transit point.

Marjorie Hughes
Marjorie Hughes

TPWL is guilty of something pro-slaughter advocates rant about--irresponsible breeding. Birds-and-bees--gee whiz! Look, we had two stallions and eight mares and lo and behold, baby horses! If you look up the Big Bend Stables at the Big Bend Ranch State Park, there is a picture of a new foal with its mom--born in May, makes you wonder. I think I can speak for anti-slaughter organizations and people like Julie Caramante--we are not out to police individual (and idiotic) owners and rectify their mistakes--we try to help the horses and donkeys who have run afoul of the badly planned and implemented government bureaucracy and are already in the pipeline of unspeakable cruelty all the way to the slaughtTPWL is guilty of something pro-slaughter advocates rant about--irresponsible breeding. Birds-and-bees--gee whiz! Look, we had two stallions and eight mares and lo and behold, baby horses! If you look up the Big Bend Stables at the Big Bend Ranch State Park, there is a picture of a new foal with its mom--born in May, makes you wonder. I think I can speak for anti-slaughter organizations and people like Julie Caramante--we are not out to police individual (and idiotic) owners and rectify their mistakes--we try to help the horses and donkeys who have run afoul of the badly planned and implemented government bureaucracy and are already in the pipeline of unspeakable cruelty all the way to the slaughterhouse. Thanks to Texas Observer for a great article!

njlin
njlin

Thank you Julie for your investigations and thank you Eric for writing this.

These horses worked hard, just like many horses in the United States, racing, rodeo’s, Olympics, trails, police departments, ranching, and many other jobs. This park don’t have the decency to find these horses homes or at least give them a dignified death, instead being butchered alive and becoming an expensive burger for Europe and Asia. Horse slaughter is decpicable and it needs to be stopped.  HORSES ARE NOT FOOD ANIMALS IN THE UNITED STATES. Melton you are special," undesired horses"  call it what it is, young healthy horses that are bred and dumped,because the overbreeder don't want them and figures they can make a couple hundred bucks and don't care that these horses meet a horrific death.  

 

JM64
JM64

The myth of "The Noble Steed" has more lives than a cat. It seems the emotional bias people have against horse slaughter will never die. Cattle, sheep, goats, pigs are all 'food' animals and are not revered, but horses are 'special'. Pray tell, why is that, other than emotional bias?

 

I am not advocating for or against horse slaughter, but why is doing so 'immoral' and 'inhumane', but commercial slaughter of 'food' animals is not? Just as many European countries do not have the same taboos against bare skin as we Americans do, some regard horse meat as delicious and desirable. Is this simply an example of social conditioning or are those people somehow morally deficient?

IMO, if the horsemeat  can be safely consumed, why not slaughter undesired horses rather than pay the costs of euthanizing and burial?

Paula Bacon
Paula Bacon

Great, sad, infuriating story, well done. The best thing you can do is tell the truth on them. I was mayor of Kaufman where one of the horse slaughter plants 'operated.' They were, as the city mgr said in 1986, "a lousy part of the community." The mayor then said, "Quite frankly, we don't want you here." A horse slaughter plant ranks right along with a lead smelter plant in terms of good economic development. Our crime rate dropped from a rate of 400 to 135 as soon as they closed. They are now peddling plants in poor areas across the country, trying to find a community that will buy their lies and promises. Horse slaughter is not good for communities or horses, though they sure want you to believe they are. USDA documents on the plant in Kaufman show how very inhumane horse slaughter is for horses in the 'pipeline.' Not humane, not a service, not euthanasia, not a 'necessary evil,' horse slaughter is not the answer, it IS the problem, a safety net -- for abuse, neglect, irresponsible breeding.... Thank you, Dallas Observer, and reporter Eric Nicholson.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I'm happy we have Big Bend.  The rest ofTexas is so fugly.

MayorBacon
MayorBacon

Great, sad, infuriating story, well done. The best thing you can do is tell the truth on them.

 

I was mayor of Kaufman where one of the horse slaughter plants 'operated.' They were, as the city mgr said in 1986, "a lousy part of the community." The mayor then said, "Quite frankly, we don't want you here." A horse slaughter plant ranks right along with a lead smelter plant in terms of good economic development. Our crime rate dropped from a rate of 400 to 135 as soon as they closed.

 

They are now peddling plants in poor areas across the country, trying to find a community that will buy their lies and promises.  Horse slaughter is not good for communities or horses, though they sure want you to believe they are. USDA documents on the plant in Kaufman show how very inhumane horse slaughter is for horses in the 'pipeline.'

 

Not humane, not a service, not euthanasia, not a 'necessary evil,' horse slaughter is not the answer, it IS the problem, a safety net --  for abuse, neglect, irresponsible breeding....

 

Thank you, Dallas Observer, and reporter Eric Nicholson.@

Jo-Claire Corcoran
Jo-Claire Corcoran

I agree with Nancy Mcmillan, it seems to me the taxpayers should have a say in how these animals are handled. A public offering with no kill buyers a limit of how many can be purchased. The park should be protecting these animals instead of selling the horses to slaughter and shooting the burros. Burros are a part of the ecosystem.

Nancy Mcmillan
Nancy Mcmillan

What I want to know is why an individual can claim that the animals are not "quality" and place a bid below market price via email without any public notification. That sure sounds like it needs an overhaul. Its a public park, our tax dollars are paying for it, so the public should have a say in how its assets are managed. I for one am opposed to horse slaughter or burro shootings. You can bet that the person who bought those horses at .25/pound was paid significantly more than that when he sold them to slaughter.

Julie Caramante
Julie Caramante

Thank you Eric with the DO for writing this article! Horses are not raised for humane consumption, plus it is simply not humane. Check out these transport violation photographs.....these are a few pics that were taken by our OWN USDA when the plants were still open in Texas... http://www.kaufmanzoning.net/violationsfoia.html Warning, they are graphic.

Terry Torreance
Terry Torreance

In American Culture we do not eat our horses. And a persons culture is important. When the immigrants came from Europe to work in the car manufacturing plants the Ford company gave cooking glasses to the immigrant women because they wanted to learn to cook American dishes. Learned that on a PBS show. If you want to sell or eat horsemeat move to Euope, Russia, China or Japan. Great job Julie exposing the state & govn't wasting tax dollars on something that Americans detest.

diana301
diana301

Horses are not food animals. The USDA and the FDA have special rules that apply only to food animals. Since horses are considered to be non-food animals they are exempt from these regulations. As a result the most common equine medication is one that is completely banned for use in cattle. It is also banned for use in horses destined for slaughter in Mexico, Canada and the EU. But hey, China sent us deadly melamine in baby formula. Why shouldn't we send dangerously adulterated horse meat to the EU.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @mangobaby46 

 

hey dipshit,

   "it's actually eat too much", not "each to much"...........jes sayin.  And what are you rambling on about? All you did was re-emphasize my points, you flaccid, redneck dong!

EllisinEnnis
EllisinEnnis

 @kergo1spaceship 

 

Why are we worry about horses when we have a bevy of other problems in North Texas?

 

Don't thing s like schools, streets, fat kids, bad education, West Nile, streets of rubble, drought, a 4th recession, etc. take priority over mr. ed running around in some vast desert? 

 

How impracticable can you people be? 

paulahdenmon
paulahdenmon

 @kergo1spaceship  There is an equine rescue..famous around the United States and Texas, within a few miles of the Park.  they would have be happy to take these horses, and find them homes or keep them on their ranch.. Horses are special.  they are not food, in fact, these horses who have served the guests of the Park have been given many drugs that are prohibited from use in animals intended for human consumption.  You need to do a bit of research... Your comment is incredibly stupid.

christiefinn
christiefinn

 @rowingisfun If horse were used instead of cow, not only would you get a little equine protein, you’d get a little phenylbutazone (a known non-specific carcinogen that works by altering the telomere’s of your DNA--i.e. changing a normal cell into an abnormal cell that can eventually mutate into a canerous cell, thus being the ignitor of a molecular action that starts your cancer---this can happen if even one moledule of PBZ attaches itself to your DNA) and then there is a little thing called Ivermectin which is used in horses at a strength five times as great as is used on the outside of a cow and no one keeps records of when the horse was treated with Ivermectin.  Ivermectin is part of the National Residue Program of toxic chemicals and it is known to cause serious neurotransmitter disruptions---maybe you have always ingested a little of this?????

 

Over 110 different substances used in horses alone and in combination throughout the life span of a horse that are banned by the FDA, EU, and CFIA are used in domestic horses---wild horses are filled with parasites and are associated with trichinosis.  Choose your poison, but don’t impose your poison on other people, and do not even think about using my tax dollars to approve adulterated horse meat for sale for uninformed (fewer and fewer people are uninformed) consumers in foreign countries.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @njlin 

 

And then the reality of living in the world set in with you?  do something great  then, and spend all your time collecting dogs, cats, horses;  heck, save anything that is living-cockroaches, beavers, big bluestem, rats, etc., and put them all on your practically imperfect farm.........and then I will thank you for the favor, and you will not be bitching, and screaming about "impracticality" .  Then you can eat air, and be poor.  Capisce?

christiefinn
christiefinn

 @jmelton6414 The idea that the horse is a noble animal is born not through myth, but through historical experience where horses overcame the prey mentality (high fear---flee from everything) that has been hard-wired into them in order to serve mankind.  They carried men into battle with guns, arrows, and swords all about them when so many messages in their brains urged them to run, run, as fast as they could away from danger.  The courage and generosity of the horse’s great heart enabled the horse to gallop straight into fire despite the fear in his heart.  The horse carried man across this country and the first adventurers and pioneers encournted many new animals, trees, rivers, weather, humans that they had never seen before.  Horses are naturally fearful of anything new, but most horses even those with the least impressive bloodlines will choose to serve their human partners if treated with kindness and as a partner.

 

As for the other part of your statement: Cows, pigs, goats, sheep, etc. are all short necked, thick-headed, short legged animals who tend to cluster when they are afraid.  On the other hand, a horse is a long-necked, long-legged, fight of flight prey animal whose behavior is driven by the need to establish safety and dominance.  Despite these obvious differences, people who slaughter horses slaugter them as if they were cattle.  It is much easier to stun a short-necked, thick headed cow than it is to stun a long necked, long faced, horse with a much smaller target area for stunning.  Horses are known to be head shy and as I stated above fearful of novel situations.  Even though a horse may trust her partner to clear her face, if the partner introduces a new brush, sponge, hose nozzle or anything else, most horses will start jerking unless the handler introduces this novel object to the horse slowly allowing the horse to smell it, touch it, see it  from different angles, and be reassured that this new object will not eat the horse.  This is not what happens at a horse slaughter plant.  The horse sees the captive bolt gun and freaks out jerking its head from side to side up and down, giving everything he has to escapte the kill box.  It often takes multiple hits (in violattion of federal statute) and even then many horses are not stunned or will immediately come to as they are hoisted by a hind leg upside down for a few moments while the horse’s massive amount of blood (1.8 times as much as a cow has) rushes to its head.  Then the disoriented horse watches as the killer approaches with a blade to slit the horse’s juglar vein or carotid artery.  Once the cut is made, the still conscious, disoriented horse watches his geyser of blood pushes its way toward the ceiling.  When a horse has been willing to die to serve his human master, has overcome his innate distrust, does this not seem like the ultimate betrayal?

 

 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @jmelton6414 

 

and then Marge from Little Elm will complain about the torture of thinning a horse herd, and then make her way to McDonald's, where she'll eat chicken(s) that have lived horrific lives, and met a bloody gruesome end, at the ass end of an electrical cord. 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz 

 

Big Bend is true jewel; I like to start at Alpine and make the complete circle......although I have had reservations about getting into DEEP canyons close to The River-I don't need trouble. 

 

To sum up Texas:

 

-North Texas/a soulless plain

-East Texas/OK, Caddo Lake is beautiful....the rest of it is backwoods sh+t

-Cross Timbers/I enjoy, what little there is

-West Texas-meh; good road to take to Colorado!

-Big Bend/awesome!

-The Valley/a toilet

-Central Texas/nice, but I liked it pre yuppie

-Coastal Plains/Piney Woods-Nice, Sabine is pretty cool

-Coast/Yuckyexcept for old Galveston, and North Padre

-North East Caddo Grasslands (Fannin and Bowie counties)/nice history, good way to get to Arklahoma!

 

 

 

 

pak152
pak152

 @diana301 "horses are not food animals" tell that to the French and Belgians.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @LarryinFrisco 

 

Dear Larry, I know from my Zen and "mystical studies" days that EVERYTHING in fact, has a soul....and is in the process of living; even rocks.  So yes, EVEN horses have souls. 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @paulahdenmon 

 

Holy hell, the "horse crazies" are nuttier the the "bike freaks"!  This is great.

 

ps-I got as far as There, and fell asleep. 

njlin
njlin

 @kergo1spaceship Here's capisce for you kergo, I have horses, dogs, cats and I take responsibilty for them. I have respect for my animals. I am not a vegan, I don't belong to pita so you can get that out of your ridiculous head... bug person. Most of us are horse owners that care about our horses, we do not listen to Sue Wallis and friends when they preach  we need horse slaughter. it's a bunch of bs, put on your thinking cap dope. Horse meat goes for 30 to 40 dollars a pound in Europe and Asia, ( and it's poison) who is making that money spaceless? A Belgium owned business, same ones that owned Dallas Crown and Beltex here. It is a cruel and under handed business that people like you support. Very un American. Stop breeding too many and take some  oh no the R word.....

RESPONSIBILITY

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

I see that I got no response from the "horse crazies" for this......maybe feels guilty, about, EATING!

christiefinn
christiefinn

 @pak152 The Europeans are onto to the US now.  They now know about the drugs in US horse meat though the horse meat was once marketed as Mustang meat, and there was probably some sliver of truth to that given the history of public lands ranching and wild horses in the West.

 

But domestic horses are full of carcinogenic drugs and drugs known to cause adverse health effects in humans.  Some of this information is known because almost 70% of these drugs were developed for humans.

 

 

diana301
diana301

 @pak152 In less than a year the French and Belgians will have a new supply of horse meat from horses that are raised for food. The EU rules will prevent American horses from entering their food chain. You see they want a safe food supply. They don't want our excess non-food horses anymore than they want road-kill.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @njlin 

 

I love horses also, but I am practical.....if you can give em a home-great!  If the heard needs thinning, okay to that also.  I think NOT overbreeding horses is a great idea. 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @paulahdenmon 

 

Hey guys and dolls,

    If ol' Paula says it's stupid, than it must be!  Come on sheople, follow Paula. 

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