A Deadly Mouthful article Published

Bravo to the Editors of Your Local Journal (YLJ) and Your Local West Island Journal for publishing my article, A Deadly Mouthful, on the dangers of eating horsemeat. Read the saved article here, or the entire journal here (note: link may get outdated or replaced with latest issue.)

It’s an emotional topic, and they were flexible enough to accommodate its length by presenting it in two Parts (see May Equine Awareness on page 17 of their previous issue)… 

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When No-one Cares for you, I will

Believe it or not, the title of this post is a quote from the John Wayne movie, The Sons of Katie Elder.  My but the world has changed!  The New York Times had an article I found enlightening if only because, when taken together with the following article (written by Animals-Angels USA), it embodies how a new insight into an old tradition evolves into action…

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Wild Horse Annie (Velma Johnston)

I‘ve never been a big reader of biographies except for Margaret Forster’s who has covered everyone from Thackeray to Daphne du Maurier.  Forster’s skill at drawing the reader into the life of her subject and exposing the dramas, big and little, which fill out that life without exaggeration, without embellishment, is unparalleled.  Alison Griffiths and David Cruise, authors of Wild Horse Annie & The Last of the Mustangs. The Life of Velma Johnston have met, if not surpassed, such high standards–not only for the voluminousness of their research–but also for the quality and flow of the writing. There is no hint of sentimentalism in their account of a woman scarred early on by polio who took on the US Bureau of Land Management long before animal or horse advocacy groups were part of our culture. It’s a true David and Goliath story in which a seemingly nondescript American citizen (1950s homemaker, secretary) chances upon a horse transport and is so horrified by what she sees that she determines to stop it.  As it turns out, she changes the course of american law with regard to the treatment and slaughter of the American mustang. I can’t say enough about the authors’ handling of the many characters who flow in and out of Velma’s messianic mission, nor their deft presentation of Velma herself.  As a child, I was a great reader of Marguerite Henry’s classic horse stories for youngsters:  I loved them all.  But like most young horse-lovers, I didn’t know anything about the underbelly of the horse culture nor anything about how their slaughter came about initially to feed protein to our pet dogs. As the fast food burger outlets grew during that period, more and more land was taken over by cattlemen who claimed the mustangs were pests, using up pasture they needed for their cow herds. I learned a lot about the american mustang’s displacement from natural corridors which for centuries had been his home.  As my own novel, Ground Manners, approaches its publication date, I’m glad I didn’t come across Wild Annie before now:  I never would have finished my book.  And the few grisly scenes of slaughter in GM are more than matched by disturbing descriptions in Wild Annie.  I had polio as a child–a very minor case compared to Annie’s; and she died on my birthday. Another reason I feel close to her and her passion to save the mustangs.  But mostly, I am part of a readership grateful to Griffiths and Cruise for bringing Velma’s courageous mission back to the table.

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That Parrot is Asleep

That Parrot is Asleep

Joe Rescued from Viandes Richelieu

The puerile but concise rant of the postee mentioned earlier–full of a venomous smugness–is in stark contrast to the man who showed up at the Massueville demonstration last Monday.  As luck would have it, this poor sap showed up amongst the demonstrators–some sporting fake bullet holes in their foreheads (I guess he didn’t notice as he pulled in to park beside them)–with the intention of asking the abattoir to slaughter his young stallion for him.  As I shepherded him over to the group (he didn’t notice the big signs they were holding up with “arretons l’abattage des chevaux” written on them either), he told me the abattoir would pay him $350.  So it was that when at least five of us pressed in on him, all talking at once and in two languages, he was taken aback, as if he’d opened the door to what he thought was a room and found himself on the edge of a cliff instead.  (Well, one can never safely predict one’s destination with any certainty at the best of times.)  I’ll give him credit though; he didn’t turn and leave (run away! run away!):  he stayed as the group grew more vocal, imploring him not to do this heinous thing, inundating him with facts and proof and alternatives.  Now nonplussed, he argued back that no cruelty existed at the slaughterhouse.  That wasn’t true, he knew for sure.  They shot the horse dead right in front of him last time because he’d told them he didn’t want it to suffer.  I nearly wiped a tear from my eye. I suggested they might have done that because he was a witness, and judging from the paucity of windows in the building, they didn’t really want witnesses to their daily goings-on.  Furthermore, I asked if he thought they had the time to process 80 or so horses a day in that kind fashion–would that be an efficient way to render a high volume of product?  When he looked back at me blankly, I thought maybe I’d driven the point home to him and that he was processing new information or maybe, old information in a new way.  But no. 

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