Over a thousand horses sold by U.S. government sent to slaughter
1,700 wild horses that were sold by the federal government to a Colorado rancher have been found to have been sold for slaughter, after the rancher claimed he was planning to give them away as pets, according to a newly released report from the federal Office of Inspector General.
The man behind this horrific story is Tom Davis, the biggest buyer of horses from the Bureau of Land Management. The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for all the horses who live on government-owned land in the West. Horses are sold or put up for adoption when herds grow too large to be supported.
However, the horses are not allowed to be sold for slaughter, after pressure from Congress forcing the Bureau to adopt a policy that makes sure the animals go to good homes. "Adopt a living legend" is one of the taglines used by the Bureau.
Davis first adopted horses in 1999, adopting 24 horses through the National Wild Horse and Burro program. This was the beginning of his deceitful dealings with the wild horses, and he proceeded to buy horses by the truckload from the government in the following years. Between 2008 and 2012, he spent $17,940 on horses, with the Bureau of Land Management spending $140,000 in transport costs.
Although Davis told the bureau he might sell the horses, he signed a bill of sale which stated he would not knowingly sell them for slaughter. His response whenever Bureau staff asked him what he was doing with so many horses what that he was giving them to "wealthy friends", to keep as pets.
In 2012, a complaint was filed against Davis which claimed he was sending the horses to slaughter, however an invistigation did not discover any evidence of this. Around the same time, the OIG began an independent investigation.
The OIG investigation resulted in Davis admitting to reselling the horses to a company that sent them to Mexico so they could be slaughtered for meat, making a profit of around $100 for each horse. For 1,700 horses, that would mean he would have made in the region of $170,000 from the scandal.
The OIG report revealed that Davis said the demand for horse meat was high, and compared it to meat from cows, sheep and goats, and that he wanted to buy even more horses from the government's wild horses program.
Despite the clear findings of the investigation, federal and local prosecutors are not filing charges against davis. The Bureau of Land Management has said that they will not be having a "business relationship" with Davis anymore. They have also said they are tightening their processes to make sure nothing like this happens again: Since December 2012, all sales of more than four horses to a single buyer withing 6 months must be approved by a higher-level manager.
If only these policies had been in place before this discovery, the 1,700 wild horses sold for slaughter might have been saved!
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