by Katharine Dokken - June 21, 2016.
At left: Katharine with renowned tiger trainer Carlos Quinones, Mindy Patterson, President of The Cavalry Group, and exotic animal trainer Doug Terranova at the USDA Headquarters, Washington, DC, 2016.
The media is awash in stories of animal abuse. If you listened to and believed your nightly newscast, you'd think that America is populated by animal abusers. It isn't. What's fueling all of these abuse stories is the meeting of the minds of two con groups. The first, the animal rights front who wants to outlaw the ownership of animals and secondly, fraudulent rescue groups who are constantly shilling the public for cash.
To these groups and their media apologists, every animal is abused and every owner is a cruel and abusive person who deserves to die a horrid death. Even the most minor of every day events is inflated and lied about to frame people for crimes they have not committed and to keep the media avalanche fueled with stories of horror. The public in turn is too quick to rush to judgment off of a headline and a 30 second sound bite instead of waiting for all the facts to come out.
Take the recent case of Lily the Paintballed Horse. Social media exploded in horror over the story of a white horse named Lily who had been shot by paintballs over 130 times. The media ran with wild claims that the horse was starving to death, malnourished, and severely abused. Except that she hadn't. She hadn't ever been shot by a paintball. Not once. She was not malnourished. She had never been abused. The entire story was a lie perpetuated by the Lancaster County SPCA to drum up ratings and cash for their group.
Even veterinarians jumped aboard the "abuse" case after vets at the New Bolton Center estimated her to be between 20 and 25 years of age and of course, horrifically abused. They claim that after extensive care they nursed her back to life.
In May, due to all the publicity about the horrifically abused horse shot with paintballs, famous comedian and animal rights activist Jon Stewart adopted Lily and sent her to live on their farm 60 miles away from where Lily came from in New Jersey. They gave media interviews to gloat about how they had "rescued" this abused horse and given her a second chance at life. Tracey Stewart, Jon's wife even told the media that it was really astounding how gentle Lily was considering how badly abused she had been.
The Stewarts are partners with Farm Sanctuary, a hard core multi-million dollar animal rights group who works to outlaw farming. I've covered Farm Sanctuary and their conviction of 210 counts of campaign finance fraud in Florida in my book, The Art of Terror: Inside the Animal Rights Movement. The Stewart's just needed a good public relations stunt to start off their new animal rescue farm.
You see, the Lancaster County SPCA knew the truth about Lily. The real truth. Lily was a 34 year old elderly mare that had been used as a riding horse for 15 years at local riding farm. Lily was at the end of her life and had too many health issues to continue on. Lily had an incurable eye problem and typical elderly horse dental issues. Lily was failing and being bullied by the other horses in the stable, a typical animal pack behavior in the wild. Lily's owner, Doreen Weston sold her to a horse dealer under the understanding that he would have her euthanized. Lily had never been shot by a paintball gun, instead Lily had been used for children's birthday parties and finger-painted by little girls. She was simply old, too old to continue living for much longer. Lily's owner had to make a hard end of life decision that every animal owner has to make sooner or later.
"We've done that for years, put paint on the horse. She loved it. The kids love it," Weston said. "It's not toxic. It's fingerpaint. Then we would put her out in the pasture and it would wash off. If it got shot with a paintball gun, that was done somewhere else."
Painting horses is a long standing tradition that goes back centuries. Native Americans have been painting their horses since the 1600s. Most people today have never heard of it because they live suburban lives isolated away from animals and the farms they live on. Even dogs today participate in organized extreme grooming competitions in which temporary animal hair dye is used. The comments to the media stories contained many outraged activists demanding that Lily's owner be brought up on cruelty charges to using her for children's birthday parties. Many others stated they would be sharing the name of her riding stable to make sure that the public knew that Doreen Weston was some sort of horrible "animal abuser."
Much is made in the media of how the horse dealer Weston gave Lily to was convicted of animal cruelty for "abandoning" Lily at the New Holland Auction house. Nothing is said in the media about how New Holland used to offer euthanasia serves for horses. The horse was not abandoned.
Sue Martin, the director of the Lancaster SPCA deliberately slandered Lily's owner in the press when she said, "The horse produced income for that stable for 15 years and then the owner decided she was no longer of use and wanted to throw her away like trash," Martin said.
It is a fact of life that all animals get old and die. For humans too, the one fact of life that you can't avoid is that you will die. Lily was an old horse who simply couldn't live any longer. Weston had to make a tough decision on putting Lily down. In many areas its now illegal for horse owners to euthanize a horse at their farms. They have no choice but to send them out to be put down, local legislators have outlawed just about everything else. As I discussed in my book, The Art of Terror: Inside the Animal Rights Movement, the entire state of Utah has outlawed the burial of a dead horse. Horse owners are between an rock and a hard place in an animal rights dominated America.
"If this is my horse, these people are trying to make a big news story out of something that I don't think is fair to me," Weston said. "I have never and have no intention of being cruel to a horse."
This abuse story was simply deliberately created to drum up media attention and cash donations from a gullible public who have been conditioned to believe every abuse story they see in the media.
As for Lily, she lasted just 3 weeks at the Stewarts farm before dying. Even now knowing the truth and knowing that the paintball story was completely made up, the Stewarts have perpetuated the idea that Lily was "abused" because she was so frail that she simply fell and broke her neck at their farm. Yes she was frail. She was old. She was very very old and at the end of her life. Look in your local nursing home and see how frail some of the elderly people there are.
In an animal rights dominated America, everything is now abuse. Getting old and frail, is abuse. Under a standard like that, every American who owns an animal is guilty. It's only a matter of time before they come after you.