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Allegations of abuse, neglect at Presidio stockyard unfounded, deputy says

August 18th, 2011 under Top Stories


PRESIDIO – A Presidio stockyard Monday housed healthy horses, skin-and-bone horses, and horses in every condition in between. But every pen had hay and water, and a mound of bails sat outside, ready to feed the animals.

The treatment of the few hundred horses in the pens, which act as a way station for horses headed to Mexico for slaughter, spawned a week of controversy, extreme claims and angry telephone calls to Presidio County officials, which the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office is now trying to put to rest.

Two horses eat hay at the Alvarado stockyard in Presidio Monday afternoon. (staff photo by ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN)

A weeklong, ongoing investigation by the sheriff’s department has determined skin-and-bone and injured horses likely arrived at the pens in that condition and were not starved or harmed in the Alvardo Pens, which are leased to C4 Cattle Inc. of Burlington, Texas.

The animals have been fed, watered, and adequately cared for while in the pens, Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Joel Nuñez said.

“[Some of] these are abused horses, but it’s not the pens,” he said.

The controversy began last Wednesday when the Franklin, Texas, animal welfare activist group Wild Horse Foundation posted claims of thousands of horses and hundreds of cattle starving in the pens on its website and Facebook page.

And so started the complaints. Calls from Presidio, all over Texas, and as far away as Virginia began streaming into to county officials, the sheriff, and city police. The International and Sentinel received word from concerned citizens, as well.

Presidio Justice of the Peace Juanita Bishop on Thursday ordered the sheriff’s department to sequester (seize property by court order) the animals in the pens. The department quickly determined there were about 300 horses and no cattle, countering the Wild Horse Foundation’s claims from the day before.

Video footage taken Thursday by the sheriff’s office shows the horses in the pens ranged in various states of wellbeing.

A sheriff’s office investigation into potential animal cruelty in the pens is under way, and while the investigation is ongoing until the horses currently in the pens are shipped to Mexico, Nuñez said charges aren’t likely to come.

“Some of the animals were coming in in really bad shape,” Nuñez said.

He said one of the county’s deputies monitored the horses being unloaded Monday and witnessed horses getting off with serious injuries.

People from across the United States have continued to contact the department, however, and have email photos of underfed and injured horses.

“We get a picture, we go out and investigate,” Nuñez said.

Some of the pictures have led police to find more horses in bad shape, but Nuñez said as soon as the workers in the pens are made aware of any injuries, they have acted quickly to take care of the situation.

During a court hearing on Friday, Presidio County Justice of the Peace Cinderella Guevara ended the sequestration and ordered the horses be given back to C4 Cattle.

“Until those horses are gone, we’re making sure they’re taken care of,” Nuñez said.

A horse that appears thin grazes in the Alvarado stockyard pens in Presidio. While there is evidence of malnourished horses, the Presidio County Sheriff's Office believes they arrived in that condition. (staff photo by ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN)

Meanwhile, the Wild Horse Foundation has teamed up with an unlikely partner to file a lawsuit against C4 Cattle and Intermeat Inc./Dallas Crown, a Belgian meat company that purchases horses headed to Mexico.

The foundation filed the lawsuit with Trenton Saulters, a Waco man who buys horses from all across the United States to sell to companies like Intermeat. About 40 of the horses in the pens came from Saulters. The lawsuit aims to get $10,000 in damages and have the horses returned to Saulters, although Intermeat and C4 Cattle claim Saulters has already been paid for the horses.

The unlikely union between the foundation and Saulters — a “kill buyer” who regularly exports horses to Mexico for slaughter, which the foundation aims to end — has alienated and outraged some of the foundations followers and supporters.

“The [Humane Society] has Michael Vick and I have Trent,” Wild Horse Foundation Executive Director Ray Field, said. “This is sort of like local cops hiring the gangster to go in and find the drug lord. He’s got inside information. It doesn’t matter to me what people think, because I’m doing the work.”

Field began looking for his inside man after flying over the pens last Wednesday, just before putting the bloated claims about thousands of horses and hundreds of cattle on his website. Field knew Saulters and called him. Sure enough, Saulters had horses in the pens and the two began working on the lawsuit, which is currently pending.

This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Saulters’s name.

Story filed under: Top Stories

18 Responses to “Allegations of abuse, neglect at Presidio stockyard unfounded, deputy says”

  1. Doris says:

    If I never breed another horse, it won’t stop the ones HERE from starving! We need to get homes for the ones already here! THEY are the ones going hungry, not some future prospect. If you can’t provide a home, shut up, or support processing.

  2. Vickey says:

    #1: You “learned” what is going on from a couple a residents?
    Looks like there is a resident right here on this board that disagrees with what you say. If you are declaring what the truth is by hearsay, it sounds like you have no first hand knowledge of anything.
    #2: The sheriff did not bother to simply “go around back” during his investigation???
    Please, do you really want me to believe that law officials just pull up in the parking lot, look around the front of an establishment only, and call everything good?
    Give me just a small break.
    Let me give you some first hand, eye witness facts about some of the animal rights tactics.
    1. You know those heart wrenching TV adds of the poor dogs and cats sadly looking our of small cramped cages? Most of them are taken inside humane society, and other animal protection agency walls.
    2. You know the horrible animal cruelty under cover videos that made the air waves a few years ago, that shows workers cruelly treating animals in meat packing plants? In two of them, it was proven that the “workers” committing the cruelty acts, were in fact Animal rights people that obtained work in these plants just to film their little act. Yep, if a few animals need to suffer for the good of the movement, er… other animals, so be it.
    There are many people who do good works for the benefit of animals, and more people should. Those people look for solutions, not just spout off ramblings of “I’ve heard”, and try to intentionally mislead others to their way of thinking by any means possible.
    There are fanatics in every section of society. Don’t unknowingly become one, that is more detrimental to the good works of others, by not getting your facts first hand, and using logical minds instead of emotional responses.

  3. Laurie Holman says:

    Once again…thank you Vickie for seeing the truth!

  4. Laurie Holman says:

    OKay… The “people” on the ground here is one person…Trent Saulters. He himself is a kill horse buyer who works for or is affiliated with ray Fields and the Wild Horse Foundation. He is the only one who has been reporting back to both the organization and to Horseback magazine. He is also the one who lost in court over the horses in the first place and is retaliating through lies, twisted truths on the internet. PLEASE…if you want to know the truth, just come down for yourself. This is NOT “Hells gate to Mexico” as Ray Field says…If you would like to read more on what kind of people you are dealing with, just check on this website:
    and read under “horse kill buyers”….
    And these are the people that are suppossed to be “saving” the horses here in Presidio?? Really? Moral of the story…Don’t believe everything you read or see on the internet before you investigate it yourself…

  5. Laurie Holman says:

    Right on! Yes…I went all around the place and have been there many times. I agree that these horses get to the pens in bad shape….I know this for a fact. I have seen them come off the trailer.

  6. Nancy Lee says:

    Hi, Vicki – I respect your reporting and work for horse welfare very much. Since the news article above seems to correlate well with the things I’ve learned from talking to a couple of Presidio residents, I’d like to clarify what you mean by “around back”. Are there horses in pens, out of easy view, that are more starved or injured than the ones that are easily seen, and that weren’t included in the Sheriff’s video, or are you referring to the dead horses that were left in a dry wash nearby? There are several separate legal issues. 1) The horses in pens have to be maintained adequately, which is C4 Cattle’s responsibility while they’re there. 2) Whoever dumped the horses’ bodies in the dry wash have violated health laws and probably other laws. 3) Whoever falsified Coggins documents, or didn’t bother to keep them straight, has broken laws. 4) Whoever transported horses so unsafely that they arrived with injuries has broken USDA transport laws. 5) Whatever non-profit organization solicits funds to “rescue” 1500 starved abused horses, when the number and extent of abuse and the identity of the abusive entity are mostly fictional, has committed fraud.

    Horse slaughter, from the time an owner sells a horse at a livestock auction, to its journey on a livestock truck with other frightened horses, to its ultimate destination at a slaughter plant, is clearly a violation of the trust and good nature of the horse. But I do wish we could be clear about who’s at fault in Presidio, and why, and particularly, who’s making the accusation.

  7. Cindy T B says:

    At slaughter they get 45 to 50 cents per pound! More if the horse is killed on the spot! So if a horse weights 1000 before dead and lets say 600 after slaughtered how much is that for a 50.00 horse then lets say they are crammed into that trailer, which they do, so figure it out for 50 horses! Do the math for one trip to Mexico from some little town 500 miles away! Oh they make the money! Why else would they do it? For the good of the poor starving abandoned horses, those bleeding heart Kill buyers and slaughter people! They are just so kind hearted! Us AR city folks just have them pegged hu! Hate them that’s why I live in a town of 850 people with one red light and pastures in front of me and behind me, oh and on the side of me! So now I guess you will say your tired of us dumb AR country folks know it all! Oh and bout buying a horse or two, how many have you bought? How much have you donated to? Maybe you should quit “jippin” your jaws and watch a few slaughter videos and see just how lovely it really is! And research ALL of this story! What about Horseback Magazines article and photos of STRANGLES!!! AND THE FALSE COGGINS REPORTS???? RESEARCH IT! The dead horses that were dumped in the creek!?

  8. Brandi says:

    Fred, how about if breeders quit breeding to get a perfect horse that will not happen, how if if the breed associations quit giving incentives for overbreeding, and last how about farmers and ranchers euth these animals instead of letting them suffer through auctions to slaughter. How about it the killbuyers are held accountable for taking care of these animals, and paying the fines they have been levied against them to the tune of almost a million dollars.

  9. vicki says:

    What was around back was everything that was denied in this article. Go over to Horseback magazine and you can read all about it. We had several investigators on the ground. There were dead horses, falsified coggins reports – not one report matched any of the horses and many injuries. They are required to provide vet care and didn’t. This is the face of slaughter all in one place. Transport issues, abuse, cruelty and fraud. And you can’t blame Mexico because this all happened in the US and would have been no different if they were going to a plant in Texas. US horses are not raised or regulated as food animals and should not be sent to slaughter for human consumption. The falsified paperwork speaks volumes. The EU recently released a report that revealed residues of banned substances and falsified paperwork. One can only hope they’ll stop accepting US horses.

  10. hrslady says:

    Vicki, what was “occurring” around back? Don’t make a statement like that and not tell us exactly what wasn’t “fine” I’ve been to hundreds of sale barns that were frequented by kill buyers, and bought lots of horses. Never once did I see that the auction facilities had anything to do with the condition of the horses. Nope…they came there that way from the farms of their “loving” owners. Let’s let the blame lay where it belongs.

  11. Vickey says:

    I can’t believe people are still stupid enough to form an opinion, and make accusations based SOLELY on photographs. Give me a break people, there could have been a mountain of food just out of the frame of the photo. I have dealt with these animal rights fanatics, they know what they are doing, and rely on these misleading photos, to invoke an emotional response.
    What if one of these horses where taken to a wonderful horse rescue group? I guarantee, I could take a photo of that horse in that environment that would would make you thing that place, and those people were guilty of animal abuse too.
    Wise up, and stop letting animal rights groups use you.

  12. vicki says:

    Laurie, did you go around to the back? From the front it looks fine but if you go around back, you would have seen what was ocurring.

  13. Fred South says:

    @Diana If you think any one is making great money off slaughter you are mistaken. Some horses at auction have sold for $5.00, many for $40. When you look at the cost to ship them across the border just in gas costs alone, the slaughter folk aren’t making much money, often times they loose money and sometimes they just break even.

    Tired of city folk, who know nothing about these communities passing judgement based on little to no information. OR simply some one’s inflammatory comments and sensationalized pictures.

    Unless you want to be part of the solution, quit jippin your jaws and actually offer to buy a horse or two or three, offer to donate hay or truck down water.

  14. Fred South says:

    For those that want to go barking about animal abuse, how about lifting the ban that will once again allow federal money to 1) inspect horse meat for sale and 2) allow law enforcement to enforce the federal laws regarding horse transport. See when you all banned funds for the first it subsequently banned the use of funds for the second.

    In times of great drought, its a simple fact that food and water become scarce. With a bad economy and a horrid horse market, if you people are so concerned about those horses, drive your butts down there and BUY THEM. Farmers would like GIVE them away to prevent suffering.

    And next time you AR’s get a harebrained idea to like the one you already had “save the horse from slaughter”, be prepared BEFORE implementation on HOW you are going to deal with the horse problem. Every time you point your fingers at the farmers, you have three more pointing back at yourselves.

    Now get off your high horse, quit pointing fingers and maybe offer to help these folks. That’s what real community and citizenship oriented people do!!!

  15. Laurie Holman says:

    Diana- I live here in Presidio. I went MYSELF and saw WITH MY OWN EYES. There were not more horses. They all had water and food. Most were in decent/good shape. Pictures that were shown on the internet were misleading. Our authorities down here are not in business with the cattle pens or anything like that. They did their job. Believe me, if there was animal abuse here, they would have done something about it. Don’t believe everything you see on the internet. If you are still in doubt, come to Presidio yourself. But…then again, that is what these people were banking on…that we are too isolated and hard to get too for people to actually do that. SO…they inflame, distort, lie and sensationalize photos and information on the internet instead.

  16. Laurie Holman says:

    According to the Sherrif dept. that is a separate case that is under investigation. They were dumped in a dry arroyo…not a running stream. Many of these horses die in transit or when they get off those trailers. I think people should start looking into the transport of the horses. That seems more inhumane than anything …

  17. Margo Nielsen says:

    What about the carcasses in the streams? Those horses got there somehow and obviously died there. Or did they arrive in that condition too?

  18. Diana says:

    This is complete BULL!!! I saw the pictures and there wasnt any food for those animals, the wasnt any water and there was a lot more horses in those pens in the initial photos. the fact that the cops and courts did nothing or didnt do it fast enough makes me believe that they are dirty and in the pocket of Inter Meats. I am sure they got a cut of what those poor horses sold for to keep them going to Mexico and to the slaughter house. The fact that they moved most of them accross the boarder and slaughtered them before any evidence could be collected is a bunch of bull. the photo of the chestnut horses eating hay has them eating about two flakes of crappy looking grass type hay and the grey horse is standing there defeated, skinny and most likely sick. He is NO GRAZING!! Who ever did this article is a total idiot and doestn report the truth so they are most likely getting paid as well. Until the laws are changed our horses are going to be shipped into Mexico so some stupid european can eat them, however there are laws that protect them from neglect, cruelty, starvation, vet care, water and shelter from the blistering Texas sun. These laws need to be enforced NOW!! I am calling for the termination of the justice of the peace and all law enforcement envolved in this piss poor investigation they did. YOU DIRTY COPS!!!

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