Horse group says boycott PETA, celebrities

By J.D. STETSON, News-Record Writer

 Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 12:24 PM MST

Recent events have prompted a group in favor of horse slaughter to ask people to boycott celebrities and organizations who have aligned themselves with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States.

The United Organizations of the Horse and the United Horsemen’s Front is calling for the boycott of celebrities such as
Willie Nelson, Carrie Underwood and Viggo Mortensen for their affiliation with the national animal rights groups.

“We’ve had a wave of people from across the nation who have contacted us and have wanted us to tell them who these people are,” said state Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Campbell County, who serves as executive director of the United Organizations of the Horse.

Wallis’ group contends that laws that make it illegal to slaughter a horse for human consumption in the United States have caused a slump in the national horse market at all levels.

The organization believes in the humane treatment and slaughter of horses and is committed to the viability of the equine industry. Two recent events triggered the boycott.

- A collaborative effort by country music singers Willie Nelson and the Barbie Twins calling for a immediate halt to public roundups of horses on public lands.

- An announcement by
United States Equestrian Federation that the Humane Society of the United States will be its main sponsor during its annual convention.

Wallis did not know how effective the boycott will be since it has just started.

“Country people are few in comparison with the urban masses,” she said.

Animal rights groups don’t consider the boycott to be much of a threat, said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

“There are always people who take an extremist position,” he said.

He added that he doesn’t think the celebrities will have much to worry about with the boycott because it is limited to so few people.

Wallis and the United Organizations of the Horse believe that the national humane society’s objective has been to eliminate the role of animals in agriculture.

Pacelle disagrees, saying it is campaigning to stop horse slaughter, which is illegal in the United States, but still goes on in Mexico and Canada under
inhumane conditions. It does support legislation in Congress that would ban the transportation of horses for slaughter.

Wyoming, market conditions have further declined throughout 2009, said Lee Bromsa, brand commissioner with the Wyoming Livestock Board.

“The horse market is not good at all,” Romsa said. “Horses don’t bring in very much.”

The board has seen an uptick in instances of horse abandonment statewide that are attributed to a souring economy and high hay prices. In most cases, the horses are not branded, which has made it difficult to find and prosecute the horse’s owner.

Most abandoned horses are sold at public auction. Because of the poor market conditions, many of the horses do not bring in enough to cover the governmental expense to house, transport and sell them, Romsa said.

But problems that afflict the Wyoming agency pale in comparison with the
Bureau of Land Management, which is in the position of warehousing thousands of wild and abandoned horses taken from federal lands in the state and elsewhere.

“It’s a complex problem,” Romsa said. “It has to have a practical solution, but what’s been proposed is not practical.”