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Missing Horses: Illegal Horse Slaughter Round-up Update

Missing Horses: Illegal Horse Slaughter Round-up Update

We have been flooded with your concerns ever since we published news of an illegal round-up in Palomino Valley, Nevada. Several privately "owned" family horses with guardians are still missing, presumed to have been stolen and then slaughtered.

This extremely complicated situation involves reservations considered sovereign nations with their own governments. What we do know is that the approximately 400 horses were all "pre-sold" by contract to a “kill buyer” for transport to slaughter, so were probably processed and shipped quickly. 

At least one of the privately "owned" horses, a mare named Lady, has not been found or returned to her guardian, Colleen Westlake. Colleen has papers showing she is the rightful guardian of the horse, but she was not allowed to search for Lady among the captured horses chased onto the reservation. 

All 32 of the foals (ages 3 months to yearlings) who were rounded up were allowed to be purchased by Chilly Pepper - Miracle Mustang in Golconda, Nevada. There they will be cared for until adopters can be found. Of course, their mothers, fathers, and other family members were unable to be saved, and were shipped to cruel slaughter. 

Local residents maintain that their horses were stolen and their land was criminally trespassed upon. Additionally, Nevada state law (NRS 569.008) which mandates public notice be given every week for four weeks in advance of any roundup of stray or feral horses was clearly broken. Despite this, the sheriff seems to think no laws were broken, and the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe leaders also say they broke no laws.

· Eyewitnesses maintain that the horses were on public and private land and then driven to the reservation land in a clear violation of the law which requires pre-notification to residents. Despite this, the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe and sheriff deny any criminal activity.

· The Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe claims the horses rounded up and sold for slaughter belonged to them. However, residents say that these well-known and loved horses have been on the public and private land for years and not on reservation land. While they may at one time have been on reservation land, they are now considered “feral livestock” by the state of Nevada which defines them as “any formerly domesticated livestock or progeny of domesticated livestock which have become wild and are running at large upon public or private lands…”  In Defense of Animals is concerned that privately "owned" horses and the beloved “feral” horses of Palomino Valley cannot be differentiated from the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe stray horses because the tribe does not ID their horses in any way. 

· The Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe claims their land was badly damaged by wildfire, so they had to round up these horses to keep them from starving before selling them to slaughter, yet eyewitness photos show the horses were all in good body score condition - in other words, not even close to "starving." 

· Once the horses were all driven onto the reservation land, no other oversight was allowed as the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe is a sovereign nation and can simply deny access onto their land. The horses were apparently driven into traps and immediately loaded onto transport trucks and taken to secret locations away from the public eye.

A lawsuit was filed on January 16, 2019 against the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe and the Nevada Department of Agriculture asking for a Preliminary Injunction to stop the transport to slaughter of Westlake’s horse, Lady, and to prevent additional roundups that violate state law. The lawsuit was filed by Ms. Westlake and the American Wild Horse Campaign. 

In Defense of Animals will continue to fight for justice for all horses involved in this sad situation.

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