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The HSUS Takes to the Sky (and Then Some) for Equines in 2011


Donkey Airlift

In September 2011, The HSUS airlifted more than 100 wild donkeys in a cargo plane (thanks to a generous donor) from Hawaii's Big Island to California, where the equines started new lives. It's part of an HSUS-organized and funded effort that has humanely captured, sterilized, and adopted more than 300 members of a wild Hawaiian herd sometimes called the "Waikoloa Nightingales"—descendants of donkeys who once worked on Hawaii's coffee plantations.

The relocated donkeys will have new lives in private sanctuaries and homes, including Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, which is owned and operated by The HSUS and The Fund for Animals in east Texas. We continue to work with local groups to care for the remaining members of the herd in Hawaii.

Double-decker trailers bound for horse slaughter: Banned

In September 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture closed a loophole that allowed the horse slaughter industry to escape oversight and transport horses inhumanely. No horses are being slaughtered in the U.S. currently, but American horses endured long trips in dangerous double-decker trailers across the borders to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.

Shippers were exploiting a legal loophole to avoid oversight by making a single stop between the auction block and the slaughter plant.

Double-decker trailers are designed for short-necked animals like cattle and sheep, but horses carry their heads high and use their long necks for balance. The low ceilings in double-deckers force horses to lower their heads to an abnormal and uncomfortable position. The USDA has documented horrific injuries to horses' heads, necks, backs, and legs during the long trip to the slaughterhouse—adding to the misery inflicted on animals by the horse slaughter industry.

Fighting for The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act

In 2011, The HSUS pushed hard for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 1176), which will, among other things, ban the long-distance transport and export of live American horses for slaughter in neighboring nations.

You can keep horse slaughter out of the U.S.

Responding to cruelty and neglect

The HSUS responded to several major neglect and cruelty cases during 2011, saving more than 400 horses who were in harm's way and giving them a chance for happier lives.

In April, we worked with law enforcement and other groups to rescue 133 Arabian horses in Queen Anne's County, Maryland, in one of the largest animal cruelty cases ever in that state. Queen Anne's County Animal Control investigated a complaint and found severely emaciated Polish Arabian horses with numerous medical problems. The county asked The HSUS and other groups for help in the rescue. The HSUS continues to care for the horses and work with the prosecutor's office. The owner was charged with 130 counts of animal cruelty, and the case is still pending.

In June, The HSUS worked with the Wyoming Livestock Board to save 94 horses rescued from cruelty from potentially going to slaughter. We helped by getting the horses appropriate care, covering the cost of their veterinary treatment, and working to find the horses loving new homes.

Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center opens

In May 2011, about 1,500 people turned out for the grand opening of the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch animal sanctuary.

The center takes in starved, neglected, or abused horses and uses training and focused care to help them become highly adoptable. Some of the center's first residents were horses rescued during a December 2010 Lindale, Texas, animal cruelty investigation. Many were unapproachable at first but soon gained confidence and trust in people.

Using Parelli-based natural horsemanship training methods, the Doris Day Center staff works with potential adoptees to understand the desired horse's personality and make matches between owner and horse based on the likelihood the pair will enjoy a lifetime together. The application process involves a home visit, education, and follow-up care and training.

Stamping out soring

After years of intense work on the issue, we welcomed USDA's proposed regulatory changes under the 40-year-old Horse Protection Act that would strengthen enforcement, including new sanctions to deter the cruel practice of soring, which is the intentional infliction of pain to a horse's legs or hooves, often using chemical irritants, screws, or other foreign objects to force an artificial high-stepping gait for show competitions.

Also in 2011, Congress approved the first funding increase in decades (a nearly 40-percent jump) to strengthen USDA enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.


Our work to protect horses, donkeys, and other equines
The Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center

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