Aspen business takes on horse slaughter

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Aspen Carriage and Sleigh was close to its goal Monday of raising funds to rescue these two horses from slaughter after reaching out on Facebook. "We are working to try and get these two beautiful souls off the feedlot (they are heading to slaughter in Mexico in a couple of days), and to their forever home on our homestead in Hotchkiss, but time is short and we don't have all the funds necessary," part of the Facebook post said.
Contributed photo |

It didn’t take long for an Aspen business to raise funds that could prevent the slaughter of two horses.

Sunday morning, Aspen Carriage and Sleigh posted on its Facebook page that it was raising money to buy two horses before they are shipped to Mexico for slaughter.

Sandy Dieterich, who owns Aspen Carriage and Sleigh with her husband, said she learned of the horses through a rescue group that discovered them at a feedlot near Fort Collins.

“We’ve been keeping our eyes on horses that need homes, and it came across to us that there were two on that feedlot,” she said.

Dieterich said meat buyers take horses at “rock-bottom prices” through auctions and ship them to Canada or Mexico.

“My preference is that the animals get to live out their lives,” she said. “Sometimes, people decide they no longer want to keep their horse, and they will send them through an auction, and a lot of time they’re bought up by meat buyers.”

Dieterich, who has a horse ranch in Hotchkiss, took to Facebook to save the horses. In exchange for donations, she wrote that Aspen Carriage and Sleigh would offer discounted rides or gift certificates.

Each of the horses run for about $1,100 to $1,200. Dieterich said one person responding to the Facebook post offered a loan of as much as $1,500. As of Monday morning, Dieterich said she was $200 shy of the goal of $2,400.

Aspen Carriage and Sleigh is closed for the offseason and will open around early December, Dieterich said. It offers carriage rides in the summer and sleigh rides in the winter. The rides, which go through downtown Aspen, originate on Galena Street across from Paradise Bakery.

It’s possible the rescued horses could be put to work, but Dieterich said she’s not counting on it. Her main goal is to save them. Dieterich said she and her husband already have saved three or four horses from slaughter. They plan to pick up the two horses Wednesday, the day before they would be shipped to Mexico.

“As much as I hate that whole process, it’s even worse when they have to ship them to Mexico and Canada packed in these tractor-trailers,” she said. “They don’t get rests, they don’t get water and they’re filled with fear. And then they go to the slaughterhouse. They can smell the blood from other animals. It’s a horrendous ending.”

The Safeguard American Food Exports Act, introduced by Washington lawmakers in April, calls to outlaw horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. as well as stop the export of horses for slaughter. The public-comment period for the law ended Sept. 18.


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