Political pressure? USDA reposting animal welfare data

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today has been reposting some of the tens of thousands of animal welfare documents previously removed from its website.  In an official announcement from APHIS they were,

“posting the first batch of annual reports of research institutions and inspection reports for certain Federal research facilities that the Agency regulates under the Animal Welfare Act.  The reports posted are part of a comprehensive review of the documents the Agency removed from its website in early February and are in the same redacted form as before.”

The agency claimed the entire search tool database had been removed on February 3, 2017 as part of a review to decide which information would be appropriate for reposting. At that time, thousands of publicly searchable records for zoos, research laboratories, commercial breeders including puppy mill facilities and circuses with the agency were deleted citing “privacy concerns.”

In the past, the data base had been a resource for journalists and animal advocates groups including animal rescue organizations in uncovering animal cruelty. Animal advocacy groups including the Humane Society of the United States accompanied by 101 United States representatives, 18 senators and animal advocates across the nation have publicly condemned the agency’s decision.

As to the “first batch” of records restored on Friday, annual reports and inspection records have been restored. Wayne Pacelle, the CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States calls the reposting of the records a “step in the right direction,” but has no intention of backing down until all the data is restored. Records still missing include information about research laboratories that use animals, puppy mills, zoos, horse soring and those activities relevant to the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has sued the agency and states it will not drop the suit until the USDA complies. In a statement Brittany Peet, director of captive animal law enforcement at the PETA Foundation in Washington, D.C. released the following statement:

“Under duress, the USDA is now attempting to get away with reposting only a tiny fraction of the animal welfare records it suddenly and indefensibly deleted … and that does not satisfy PETA [People for the Ethical Treatmeant of Animals] or the other plaintiffs in the pending lawsuit against it.

And then there are bipartisan politicians speaking out in defense of the animals:

“While I’m glad the USDA is starting the process of restoring some information online, there is no excuse for the agency’s abrupt actions to reduce transparency and prevent Americans from knowing about animal abuse,” stated Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).

In addition, Representative Vern Buchanan (R. Fla) states this still isn’t enough and posted in a statement:

“…This website protects animals and the database should be fully restored. At the end of the day, putting a few document back online is not good enough.”

It would appear this barrage of criticism isn’t going to stop until all records are restored. What do you think? Please weigh in. The previous articles are this very important issue can be found below.

Read prior stories here:

USDA removes inspection reports and information from website

Trump USDA pick has animal-rights activists worried

Humane Society challenges USDA for hiding animal welfare data

Horse stuck in ice-covered swimming pool

Days ago, a horse named “Lucky” found himself in a frightening situation in Idaho after he got out of his enclosure and his curiosity nearly got the best of him when he wandered away. The horse who went exploring somehow became trapped in a nearby resident’s ice-covered swimming pool late Saturday afternoon, reported UPI.

Not-so-lucky,”Lucky,” was completely trapped in the frozen pool and if not for the help of neighbors and rescuers with the fire department, he may not have survived.

Firefighters with the Eagle Fire Department had to break through the thick ice with a chainsaw in order to reach the five-year-old horse. Eagle Fire Battalion Chief Rob Shoplock, the frightened horse wasn’t receptive to his rescuers efforts in the beginning – he told the Idaho Statesman, ““When we starting moving him, he was not having it — he actually fell down under the water.”Screenshot (1133)

Fortunately, Lucky finally lived up to his name and was freed from the pool – after being warmed up, he was examined by a veterinarian and amazingly, he Screenshot (1134)appeared to be okay, despite the traumatizing. and COLD ordeal.

(Photos via Eagle Fire Department Twitter)





Read another heartwarming story involving a brave police officer and a trapped dog here.

Officer rescues dog from icy lake

Colt attacked by cougar during birth recovering from injuries

In Norco, California, a colt named Charlie was attacked by a cougar while being born just three weeks ago. Shortly before the New Year, Phlicka had been giving birth when the cougar attacked. Owner, Diane Truxillo heard a commotion from the dogs that something was going on and rushed outside to the barn.

According to AbcNews, the family dogs chased the cougar away, but not before the rare newborn Knabstrupper foal was critically injured.

“You could see his carotid artery. You could see that the membrane covering the carotid artery was the only thing that wasn’t broken,” stated Allyson Gagnon, the veterinarian who treated Charlie. “He wanted to live. He really wanted to live.”

Phlicka was also treated for her injuries to her eye while she stayed next to her foal as he slowly recuperated. And for nearly three weeks, Charlie had the most dedicated and loving care. Supporters in the Norco community helped with donations to pay Charlie’s veterinarian expenses. Family and friends call it a miracle.

(Photo of Charlie after cougar attack screenshot via AbcNews)

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Horse survived 6 weeks alone in snow after owner abandoned her

A six-year-old mare that had been abandoned in the deep snow in the back country at Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming, at the end of a hunting trip survived 6 weeks alone. According to her owner, BJ Hill, the proprietor  and operator of Swift Creek Outfitters and Teton Horseback Adventures, the horse named Valentine had become extremely ill and “had all the signs of dying.” At that point, Valentine was left on her own; Hill was sure a predator would have killed her in an area known for wolves.

Not so at all, because on December 14, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported a trail groomer spotted the dark-coated mare, albeit extremely gaunt and pawing at the drifts to find any hidden grass,  standing out in the deep snow. He contacted the Shosone National Forest’s Wind River ranger station in Dubois. By the next morning U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Dirk Chalfant found out who the horse belonged to and what had occurred:

“What I discovered is this horse had probably been in there for six weeks, and at a least three of those weeks it was probably in about five feet of snow and occasionally 30 below zero,” stated Chalfant.

And then came the plans for her rescue after Hill was told his horse had survived. Through ungroomed trails and snow still falling, Chalfant, Hill and Hill’s son loaded up some hay for Valentine and used a snowmobile to finally find her. When Valentine spotted her rescuers, she made it quite clear she had no intentions of being left behind again.

“She didn’t want to spend another night back there alone,” Chalfant said. “If we had to leave her and drive away, I think she would have been heartbroken.”

Thanks to the groomer who first spotted the horse, he was able to carve out a rough path and then the men built a road behind her. Attached by a lead rope, the snow was packed down by the men, as Valentine happily made her way out of Fish Creek Trail. For the next eight hours, the horse, at her own pace traveled nearly 20 miles through the deep snow; she had no “quit” in her. And when the men and Valentine reached the road, a trailer was ready to take her home to Pavillion.

Some true stories are just stranger than fiction. Welcome home Valentine.  (Photo of horse survived courtesy of US Forest Service.)

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Denver police officer loses one vacation day after ‘forgetting’ about his horse

A Denver police officer has been docked one vacation day after he “forgot” and left his horse tied in a stall for 16 hours without food or water. By the time the horse was discovered, released, watered and fed, he soon suffered from a severe case of colic and had to be humanely euthanized.

According to Channel 9News, the Denver Police Department mounted patrol officer, Joseph Teeter ignored his horse MC Hammer after the two had patrolled the downtown area on September 26, 2016. Teeter returned the horse to the Denver Police Mounted Patrol Barn, removed the saddle and tied the horse-leaving two to three feet of slack. Documents state Tweeter “became distracted doing paperwork and forgot he had left the horse tied in the stall.”

MC Hammer was discovered the next morning still tied to the eyebolt. Although he was fed and watered, the horse colicked, however veterinarians could not conclude that the illness was a result of being tied for so long. In a December 20 disciplinary letter, Officer Teeter’s “forgetting” “exposed a live animal to cruel and extreme conditions.”

MC Hammer was ten years old and had been with the police force for nearly one year. The disciplinary letter stated Teeter was extremely remorseful about the situation and had been devastated at the time of the horse’s death. The district attorney’s office did not press charges.

Rest in peace MC Hammer.

(Photo of Denver police horse via website)

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Woman banned from keeping horses after seen on skeletal racehorse

A 22-year-old woman from Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England has been banned for ten years from keeping horses after she posted photos on social media of her riding a skeletal racehorse.charlotte-mcpherson-2

According to the AngleNews, Charlotte McPherson was reported last March to the RSPCA after irate animal advocates photographed her riding a skeletal horse at a public event. The malnourished Thoroughbred named Thor’s bony hindquarters had been hidden from view with a heavy blanket.

On Monday, McPherson pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty at Birmingham Magistrate’s Court. She had been charged with causing unnecessary suffering by failing to investigate the cause of the horse’s emaciated condition, failing to protect him from pain and suffering and injury by riding the horse in such poor condition. During the time, McPherson had the horse, she continued to ride him in that emaciated condition at least twice a week.charlotte-mcpherson-3

“Not only was he thin, but he had a sore on his spine which was underneath the saddle,” reported RSPCA Inspector Suzi Smith. “Thor would have been in a lot of pain while he was being ridden.”

In addition to the ten year ban on keeping a horse, McPherson was also sentenced to a year of community service, 160 hours of unpaid work and several fines including victim surcharges. Thor has since been rehabilitated and adopted and is reported to be living a wonderful life.

(Photos of skeletal racehorse via Caters and RSPCA screenshots)

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Horses found with racing tattoos burned off with acid

The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is currently investigating an animal cruelty case associated with three Thoroughbred mares purchased from the New Holland Auction in Pennsylvania on Monday with their identifying lip racing tattoos apparently burned off with acid.horses-hit-with-acid-2

According to the Lancaster Online, veterinarian Dr. James Holt stated someone used a caustic or acidic substance to obscure the tattoos. Otherwise the horses were stated to be in good body condition. The Pennsylvania SPCA is now working with the Jockey Club and employing DNA testing to determine the identities of the mares believed to be between 12 to 18 years old. Dr. Holt has seen this before:

“It’s possible the person was obscuring the ID simply because they didn’t want to have the horses identified. You can still identify them through DNA, but it takes weeks instead of minutes. Racehorse owners might try to get around track regulations that prohibit sending horses to slaughter because it is costly to keep or re-home them.”

Tragically, Dr. Holt has seen this before – even to the extent of the tattoo carved out with a knife for the same reason. These horses, however were lucky and didn’t fall through the cracks. Now it will be the time to determine why the owner did this – to avoid getting in trouble with the racetrack for selling the horses to auction where they might end up being transported to slaughter or for another reason? Spokeswoman for the organization and director of public relations, Gillian Kocher stated the horses are eating and drinking and are expected to make a full recovery. After that, they will be made available for adoption.

Anyone with more information is asked to contact the cruelty hotline at 866.601.7722.

(Photos of racing tattoos via Omega Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation Center)

Horse dished out justice after kicking student for slapping her on hindquarters

Three people face criminal charges after slapping a Kingston, Ontario police horse during the annual Queen’s University homecoming celebration on Saturday, but not before the horse dished out justice by kicking the student. According to Global News, the horse named Murney, had been on patrol with her partner Saturday afternoon when she was slapped multiple times.kingston-ontario-horse-2

A woman was released at the scene, but will be issued  a summons. Two men were arrested and have been charged with causing injury to a law enforcement animal.  A video posted on Instagram shows a woman running up behind a horse and slapping it on the side. The startled horse reacts and kicks her left rear foot causing the the woman to fall down. The young woman quickly gets back on her feet and runs away.

Murney is  one of the latest horses to join the team, and fortunately the horse kept her composure:kingston-ontario-horse-3

“It speaks to the danger of approaching a horse and striking it from behind,” Const. Steve Koopman told Global News. “It could have been a much worse situation… Luckily the animal didn’t bolt and the officer wasn’t harmed.”

Hopefully the woman and the other students learned not to  slap a horse on their behind. It could have been much worse!

Photos via Twitter

Horse killed by bow and arrow while grazing in pasture

Authorities in Barre, Vermont are searching for the person responsible for killing a family’s 23-year-old Quarter horse with a bow and arrow while she peacefully grazed in the pasture behind her home on Prospect Street. According to the Independent, the horse named Bunny was killed sometime between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning; an arrow piercing her rib cage causing her to slowly bleed to death.

A part of an arrow was found lying in the pasture; another piece was found in the horse’s stomach. Police Chief Tim Bombardier stated the act was intentional, and even though it is bow hunting season, no hunter would be out at that time of night. In addition, there would be no way Bunny could have been mistaken for a deer considering the horse weighed 1,200 pounds and where she was grazing near her barn.

Bunny’ owner, Regan Howard is devastated over the death of her horse.

“Bunny was a sweet girl,” Howard said. “We bought her 15 years ago. She was my daughter’s and my first horse.  She was a great horse. She’d never be afraid of anybody.”


A reward is being offered and the public is asked to help find the culprit who shot a sweet, friendly horse. The responsible person faces charges of aggravated cruelty to a domestic animal and felony unlawful mischief. Anyone with information is asked to call Barre police at 802-476-6613 or submit a tip online at http://vsp.vermont.gov/tipsubmit.

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(Submitted photo)



Disturbing cruelty: Horse dragged behind truck as foal follows to keep up

A horse owner, who tethered his mare to the back of his pickup truck and dragged her along main roadways in Lincolnshire has been slammed among citizens, animal advocates and social media for causing “distressful, traumatic and painful”  animal cruelty reports the Express.

horse-dragged-thru-traffic-2On Thursday, a heartbreaking 57-second video shows the frightened animal nearly getting hit by an oncoming driver at a T-Junction in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. The blue vehicle was spotted when the driver pulled out of a field with the horse tied to the back of the truck, and a foal was left to frantically follow behind her mother.

The video clearly shows the horse struggling to keep up as the rope pulls tighter whenever the horse slows up. At one part in the video, the foal was almost hit by an oncoming vehicle as the baby had no idea what was happening and danced  around the traffic in pure fright. Cars swerved and braked to avoid hitting the young horse.

According to the Lincolnshire Echo, the RSPCA  has asked for the public’s help in identifying the driver.

“These images look very distressing; it must have been very traumatic and painful for this horse to be pulled along in this way with a foal trailing behind. Other road users are also being put in danger by the looks of these pictures…”

Anyone with information is asked to call the cruelty line on 0300 123 4999.

(Photos via screenshots of video)

View video here.