As it turns out, the attendance at the "Summit of the Horse" now going on at a Las Vegas casino, is, as one commentator described, "sparse" with merely dozens of people present instead of the hundreds expected by organizer Wy. State Rep. Sue Wallis.
Wallis had hoped to use the "Summit" as a platform to call for the return of commercial horse slaughter to the U.S. which would, in turn, aid her in her personal plans to operate a horse slaughter facility in Wyoming.
Wallis had previously offered to "partner" with the Bureau of Land Management to slaughter wild horses and burros. Wild horses and burros are supposed to be protected, however, under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. Section 1331 et seq. And, on the first day of the "Summit" BLM Director Bob Abbey reiterated "I want to be clear about one thing. [Interior] Secretary [Ken] Salazar and I have consistently stated since taking on our current roles that we do not support nor are we willing to incorporate into any wild horse or burro strategy that we pursue, the euthanasia of healthy wild horses and the unlimited sale of older horses [for slaughter], even though these legal authorities exist under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, as amended. … Having taken the position that slaughter is not a viable or acceptable management option for America’s wild horses or burros which are removed from BLM managed land, then we must be willing to pursue other alternatives".
Wallis is also likely disappointed with Temple Grandin, Ph.D., whom she had touted as a featured speaker at the Summit, claiming she was involved in Wallis’ plans to build a Wyoming horse slaughter facility. Dr. Grandin told Animal Law Coalition, however, "I have told Sue Wallis that I want no involvement in her business dealings. …[W]e have done no design work." Dr. Grandin was also quoted by Horseback Magazine as saying Wallis had "misrepresent[ed]" her involvement.
Indeed, Wallis remains under investigation for possible violations of ethics and securities laws. Wyoming resident, Patricia Fazio, Ph.D., has asked state authorities to investigate allegations Wallis improperly and even fraudulently abused her position as a state legislator to her personal financial benefit, even sponsoring bills that would promote her own proposed horse slaughter house and her family’s food business. Wallis is also accused of possibly unlawfully soliciting investors for an organization that did not exist and otherwise committing fraud in promoting investment in a horse slaughter house that could not operate legally or profitably. She is said to call her business dealings "charities" entitled to tax exempt status, and it is unclear on her various websites where "donations" are actually going.
Before the Summit even began, sponsors dropped out, some claiming they had never agreed to sponsor the event. A planned truck raffle fizzled when Wallis announced she had not sold enough tickets to buy the truck and asked ticket holders if she could keep their money as a "donation". Then Wallis offered to raffle off a "stand in" truck. Authorities have been asked to investigate for fraud and violations of gambling laws.
In organizing a pro-horse slaughter "summit", Wallis and her fellow Summit organizer, Dave Duquette, failed to recognize that American horses are generally not fit for human consumption. Just days before the "summit", they decided to call instead for slaughter of American horses for use as zoo meat. Such businesses already exist, however, for whatever small market there may be for use of horsemeat by zoos.
If Wallis really wants to help horses in need during this economic downturn, she should support a ban on slaughter. The availability of horse slaughter creates a salvage or secondary market that encourages overbreeding. Without slaughter as "an option", horse breeders will stop overbreeding. Indeed, this has already started happening as the demand for horsemeat declines worldwide.
As Vicki Tobin, co-founder and vice president of Equine Welfare Alliance, points out in her article, Absence of Logic, "As the ‘unwanted’ horses are being slaughtered this year, one would think, the ‘problem’ would correct itself but alas, as I write this, the crop of unwanted horses for next year are being prepped by the breeders that produce them, year after year. We are asked to believe that there is no relationship between kill buyers buying horses and breeders breeding more."
Curiously, one positive from the "Summit of the Horse" is that attendees agreed most Americans, more than 90%, oppose horse slaughter. A proposed ban on horse slaughter was not voted on in the last Congressional session. With the recent information about just how unsafe horsemeat is for human consumption, maybe this Congress will take note and vote to pass the ban.