Memory of horse deaths mars opening of Flicka the movie

Image of horse that appears on Flicka the movie poster.
Image of horse that appears on Flicka the movie poster.

LOS ANGELES, California (Oct. 17, 2006) — “Flicka” is a feel-good movie about a wild horse and the teenager who tries to tame her. However, the making of the movie was anything but feel-good for the horses killed during its filming.

The American Humane Association, who oversees the safety of animals on movie sets, had four representatives on the set of “Flicka” from the first day of production, and pre-approved all activities planned for the horses. It was under the AHA’s oversight that two horses were killed within the span of two weeks.

On April 11, 2005, the AHA reported that a horse broke his leg and was euthanized. In a studio briefing dated April 25, 2005, the AHA disclosed that a second horse broke his neck and died during the filming of “Flicka” two days earlier.

Observers of the second event were quoted as saying that the horse was one of four who were galloping around an arena trailing 30-foot ropes and fell when his back legs became entangled in the ropes. Others reported that two horses stumbled, presumably over the ropes, and collided.

An eyewitness account sent by email to the Int’l Fund for Horses alleged that in creating a wild horse race for “Flicka,” a group of horses were “released into an arena with wranglers jumping on the terrified horses, biting them, dragging them down and otherwise assaulting them.” The horses panicked and two collided heavily into each other. One of the horses did not get back up, sustaining a broken neck, and died. There were conflicting reports on whether or not the horses were trained rodeo horses.

“It doesn’t matter if the horses were trained or not. Trailing long ropes behind galloping horses, intentionally frightened to boot, is a recipe for disaster. A terrified horse will fight or flee, and injuries are bound to happen,” states Int’l Fund for Horses President, Vivian Farrell.

The Screen Actors Guild pay the AHA to monitor animal use in films and award the “No Animals Were Harmed”® End Credit Disclaimer according to standards set by the organization. After the deaths of the horses, the AHA did an internal investigation and concluded the deaths were “unavoidable” and that there was proper oversight on the part of the group. However, they agreed that the movie would not be given the usual “No Animals Were Harmed”® credit at the end of the film.

“Whether or not the deaths were unavoidable I cannot state without reservation. However, it is crystal clear that animals were harmed, harmed to the point of death,” comments Farrell.

Fox 2000 Pictures releases “Flicka,” the long-awaited movie remake of Mary O’Hara’s treasured novel, starring Tim McGraw and Alison Lohman nationwide on October 20th.


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Radnofsky offers support for horses

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, rival for Texan Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat in the US Senate, calls for her opponent to take a stand on horse slaughter

Barbara Ann Radnofsky
Barbara Ann Radnofsky

Houston, Texas (Oct. 15, 2006) – Barbara Ann Radnofsky, Texas Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, took a stand on the issue of horse slaughter and legislation currently before the US Senate banning the practice, calling on her opponent Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to voice her opinion on the bill.

Two of the three horse slaughter plants operating in this country are in Texas. Polls show that a majority of Texans are firmly against it, and support federal legislation amending the Horse Protection Act making horse slaughter and export for slaughter illegal. The companion bill to S. 1915, H.R 503, passed the U. S. House of Representatives 263-146 and is now awaiting a vote in the Senate.

Radnofsky made this statement to the horse advocate group, Int’l Fund for Horses, “I absolutely support the bill. I call on my opponent to denounce the overbreeding fueling the market for slaughtered horsemeat.”

Horses endure incredible hardships on the way to slaughter, but that is nothing compared with the cruelty that awaits them at the slaughter plant. Statistics gathered by one of the largest horse theft prevention organizations in the country, Stolen Horses International, shows that 60% of horses stolen end up at horse slaughter plants. This is a violation of the property rights of horse owners that can never be remedied.

“Without this bill, horse theft and abuse will continue to increase,” adds Radnofsky.

“Barbara Ann Radnofsky’s position on this issue is welcome news,” comments Int’l Fund for Horses President, Vivian Farrell. “Between Cornyn’s hostility towards the bill, and Hutchison’s do nothing attitude, Texans are looking for a voice in Washington. They have certainly not gotten it on the horse slaughter issue.”

In sharp contrast to Radnofsky’s support for the bill, her rival in the Senate race, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), has been on the fence since the bill was introduced in October 2005.

Members of the Int’l Fund for Horses’ Texans for Horses group have been contacting Senator Hutchison consistently, with frustrating results.

“When I telephoned Senator Hutchison’s office before the mid-term election break in an effort to get an answer on behalf of our Texas constituents, I was surprised by the less than friendly reception I received,” comments Farrell. “When I finally got through to Hutchison’s aide, he told me that he had spoken to the Senator and that as far as she is concerned, the horse slaughter bill is a “non-issue” and “not on her radar.”

Radnofsky is clearly dedicated to representing the concerns of all Texans and not afraid to take a stand on the issues important to them.

“For Texans who want to see the practice of horse slaughter banned, Barbara Ann Radnofsky offers a superior alternative to what we already have in Washington,” concludes Farrell.

A U.S. Senate debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters and KLRN-TV will be taped and then broadcast at 9:00 p.m. (CST) on all PBS affiliates throughout the state on Thursday, October 19. Barbara Ann Radnofsky, Scott Jameson, and Kay Bailey Hutchison have all confirmed participation in the debate.


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US Representative from Texas threatens provision banning horse slaughter on US soil

Rep. Henry Bonilla says “It’s Coming Out” to Agriculture Appropriations Bill amendment suspending funding for USDA horse slaughter plant inspections

WASHINGTON DC (Oct. 21, 2005) – Federal legislation that would ban horse slaughter on US soil for Fiscal Year 2006 saving the taxpayer an estimated $5 Million could be under serious threat because of Texas politician, Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-23-TX).

Passed by an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate, the amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill prohibiting the federal government from using federal funds to carry out horse slaughter plant inspection is currently being considered by a conference committee of Senators and Representatives as they reconcile the final document for the President’s signature.

Word is Bonilla is busying himself in an attempt to get the necessary votes to strip the amendment from the final bill. When confronted by legislators friendly to the measure, he is quoted as saying, “It’s coming out!”

The amendment should not be altered or omitted according to Congressional rules.

“This is a travesty and yet another example of the American people being robbed of their voice in Washington. Tragically, it is not the first time politicians have manipulated behind the scenes to the detriment and destruction of our horses,” states Vivian Farrell, President of The Fund for Horses.

The Sweeney-Spratt Amendment passed the House by 269-158 on June 8, 2005. The Ensign-Byrd Amendment containing identical language passed the Senate 69-28 on September 20, 2005.

There are three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants for human consumption in the United States. All meat and profits go overseas.


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Where will Wyeth’s horses go?

Pharmaceutical giant Wyeth puts thousands of horses at risk of slaughter with announcement of massive PMU farm closures

Wyeth logo. Google image.

Houston, Texas (Apr. 27, 2005) – Wyeth Pharmaceuticals sounds a death knell for thousands of horses with its recent announcement that it is significantly reducing production of its hormone replacement therapy drugs for women made from pregnant mare’s urine.

Wyeth just announced its closure of 19 pregnant mare urine farms in Alberta, Canada and approximately 30 more ranches in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Dakota. This will displace around 30,000 mares altogether, almost all of which are pregnant.

During the last layoff due to the downsizing of the industry due to rapidly declining demand for Wyeth’s Premarin® family of drugs, nearly 15,000 horses were put “out of work.” Although some were bought or found homes, a high percentage of the mares and foals went to slaughter.

In the United States, much is being made about the so-called “unwanted horse” in reaction to pending legislation in Congress that would ban horse slaughter. This culminated in a summit meeting recently hosted in Washington DC by the American Association of Equine Practitioners to discuss what should be done with America’s surplus horses.

Pharmaceutical giant Wyeth, who has earned billions of dollars since the 1950s from the sale of its Premarin® family of drugs made from pregnant mare’s urine, is once again burdening the equine communities in both the U.S. and Canada with thousands of its redundant horses. However, the Unwanted Horse Summit did not address the problem of the thousands of horses unwanted by Wyeth.

“It would be highly beneficial if the AAEP would place issues like the sudden dumping of thousands of horses no longer wanted by Wyeth on the Summit meeting’s agenda,” comments Vivian Farrell, President of the Int’l Fund for Horses. “Failing to address situations like these takes away credibility from these sorts of proceedings.”

Where will Wyeth’s unwanted horses go?

As in the past, it will be publicly supported horse rescues and shelters who will have to intervene if the majority of these horses are not to end up in the horse slaughter plants of the U.S. and Canada, and subsequently on someone’s dinner plate in Europe and Japan.

“We are calling on Wyeth to come up with a workable plan and the capital to provide for the care and maintenance of its mares and foals until appropriate homes are found for them,” states Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition. “It is high time Wyeth took real responsibility for theses horses and provided the much needed support to those of us willing to do this work.”


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Two-thirds of Canadians polled do not believe in horse slaughter

VANCOUVER, BC (May 27, 2004) — According to a new Ipsos-Reid poll conducted on behalf of B.C. based TRACS, “The Responsible Animal Care Society”, two-thirds (64%) of adult Canadians “do not believe in the slaughter of Canadian horses for human consumption”.

Poll respondents were told “Government statistics show that in 2003 more than 61,000 horses were slaughtered in Canada for human consumption or shipped out of the country for the same purpose.”

One-in-three (33%) adult Canadians say they “do believe in the slaughter of Canadian horses for human consumption”. Three percent have no opinion on this issue.

Regional and demographic differences included the following:

A slight majority of Quebec residents say they “believe” in the slaughter of Canadian horses for human consumption (53% believe vs. 47% do not believe). A majority of residents from other provinces “do not believe” in the slaughter of Canadian horses for human consumption (77% Atlantic, 73% Ontario, 69% British Columbia, 62% Alberta, 56% Manitoba/Saskatchewan).

A majority of residents in all other socio-economic and demographic groups “do not believe” in the slaughter of Canadian horses for human consumption. Opposition to the slaughter is higher amongst women (73% vs. 55% men), younger residents (69% 18-34 years vs. 59% 35-54 years), lower income residents (74% vs. 58% higher) and less educated residents (75% less than high school, 69% high school vs. 64% some post-sec, 57% university graduates).

These are the findings of an Ipsos-Reid/TRACS poll conducted between May 18th and 20th, 2004. For the telephone survey, a representative randomly selected sample of 1000 adult Canadians was interviewed.  With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure the sample’s regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 2001 Census data.

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The Horse Fund is the most dynamic equine advocacy organization of its kind. Headquartered in the United States The Horse Fund works to protect equines at home and abroad by lobbying and acting as horse industry watchdogs.

National lobbying group forms in Texas to end horse slaughter

Houston, Texas (Oct. 3, 2003) – The Fund for Horses – a new non profit organization for the protection of horses has been formed by Houstonian Vivian Farrell. The primary focus of the lobbying group will be to end horse slaughter for human consumption by working for the enactment of a federal law banning it.

“When I discovered horses were being slaughtered in this country for their meat and exported live for slaughter, I was shocked,” says Farrell. “Investigations revealed practices connected to the horse slaughter industry so terrifying and brutal, I felt we have to find a way to stop it. So I started the Fund for Horses.”

Farrell began her fight against horse slaughter with a group of around 200 horse lovers called Texans for Horses that quickly drew new members from all over the State. Their passion and commitment enabled them to defeat Texas State Rep. Betty Brown’s bill to legalize horse slaughter earlier this year.

It was after that victory that Farrell decided to form a national group. Farrell went through the incorporation process, attained tax exempt status and launched the The Fund for Horses website all in a matter of a few months. The Fund for Horses have a broad base of constituents from around the country whose first mission is to take on legislators in Washington DC to defeat horse slaughter.

Summing up the group, Farrell states, “The Fund for Horses is a strong community of concerned horse lovers from all walks of life who understand, respect and appreciate the unique character and contribution the horse has made to the country and civilization. We are determined to bring an end to horse slaughter, and strongly believe a grassroots movement like ours can do it.”

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The Horse Fund is the most dynamic equine advocacy organization of its kind. Headquartered in the United States The Horse Fund works to protect equines at home and abroad by lobbying and acting as horse industry watchdogs.