A Facebook campaign helped rescue numerous horses from a property east of Centralia, Washington on Tietzel Road – but citizens have become concerned that the horses may be headed for slaughter. KOMO 4 News originally reported on Monday, February 18 that the horse rescue began after a dead horse was found alongside the road. On Wednesday, February 20, the Washington State Livestock Coalition responded to citizen concerns that the horses may be slaughtered.
“During the past several years, our organization has worked closely with the Lewis County Code Enforcement and the Sheriff’s Office on animal cruelty issues, including removal and rehoming of horses from several locations,” stated Nick Cockrell, president of the Washington State Livestock Coalition.
“When the Tietzel Road situation escalated last week, our organization was requested to intercede to avoid the county taking additional legal action (and assuming the cost of seizure and prosecution).
“One of our members, who chairs our Assistance Committee, had visited the farm about three weeks ago and had talked with the Sprechts. At that time, they indicated that they could take care of their animals and did not require assistance,” Cockrell added.
After this conversation, Cockrell indicated that the Lewis County officials had delivered at least one citation with the expectation of action of the owners to provide better care for animals.
“When we were called last Friday, February 15, we were asked to remove any animals possible, or provide other temporary assistance,” Cockrell explained.
“On Friday, the Sprechts agreed for us to assist in burying a dead horse which had been lying in the pasture for several weeks. We also counseled them about impending legal action, and offered to receive and remove all of the horses for the animals’ well-being.”
The removal of the horses occurred on Monday, February 17, and Tuesday, February 18.
“The task of removing twenty horses from a muddy pasture was exceedingly difficult, and our organization enlisted the assistance of a local livestock buyer to round up and haul animals to a sorting facility for examination,” Cockrell explained.
“Many of the animals had never been in a trailer and most had never had halters placed around their head (or ever had experience with a lead rope). Some had leg or other injuries.”
On Tuesday, the last five horses were removed from a large barn on the property.
“This removal required a four wheel drive vehicle to back a trailer up a muddy driveway. As of 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, a large animal veterinarian was scheduled to examine the horses for communicable diseases, injuries and general physical condition,” Cockrell explained.
“We anticipate that decisions will be made over the next several days regarding disposition of the horses.
“The intent will be to rehome as many animals as possible. We have been approached by multiple individuals and groups wanting to help, and we are in process of determining how to coordinate these efforts.
“We anticipate having answers within the next week. In the meantime, the horses are receiving ample feed, water, and space required to examine their conditions,” Cockrell added.
There have been numerous rumors, prompted by the involvement of a livestock buyer, that the animals are headed to slaughter in Canada.
“For the record, we do not intend to send animals to slaughter,” Cockrell stated.
“In the U.S., slaughter is not legal. Canada has adopted new horse slaughter regulations which generally prohibit importation of horses from the U.S. without health histories and vaccination records for the past six months signed by all owners of record.
“Many of these regulations follow European Union requirements adopted in 2010. Otherwise, animals must be placed in quarantine for up to six months, which is not economically feasible. More information on this issue can be found here.
“The Washington State Livestock Coalition provides temporary assistance to livestock owners who are experiencing difficulties in managing or caring for their livestock due to the owner’s medical condition (recent severe illness), job loss or other extreme condition.
“We also provide seminars and education about livestock care and management. We welcome contributions of cash, feed and supplies. (P.O. Box 987, Rochester, WA 98579).
“This current transfer of horses is significant beyond our normal capacity, but we feel obligated to assist, as requested by local county officials,” Cockrell explained.
Updates to this story will be posted as they occur.
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