Columbia Basin Equine Rescue: Horse Lovers And Activists Saving Slaughter-bound Equines


Emily Murdoch, an Itchmo reader, is a writer, runs a dog rescue, and is also part of a horse rescue in the state of Washington. She recently wrote this article and sent us it to bring attention to horse slaughter and the group’s mission to save as many horses as possible from slaughterhouses.

Columbia Basin Equine Rescue: Horse Lovers And Activists Saving Slaughter-bound Equines

By Emily Murdoch

They shoot horses, don’t they? Isn’t that the saying? Would it shock you to know that a bullet would be infinitely kinder, than the harsh reality that befalls so many of our unwanted American horses?

Slaughter, and the slaughter pipeline, is no place for a horse. At livestock auctions, where unlucky horses are paraded before a crowd for that needle-in-a-haystack chance of being purchased by a loving family, horses are more often purchased by Kill Buyers, who make their living off horse meat. Kill Buyers often purchase young, sound, impeccably trained riding horses whose families or past owners believed would find a good home. They purchase horses dumped at auction by irresponsible breeders and people who want to squeeze that last buck out of a horse, regardless of its fate. Some of the horses have been abused and neglected; some have been starved and are fattened up at feedlots before being shipped. Some of the horses are wild horses, who never stood a chance; some are stolen horses leaving behind frantic owners who fear the worst.


Americans have been led to believe that only old, sick or crippled horses go to slaughter, if they‘re even aware of slaughter at all. But it’s simply untrue. Horse slaughter is America’s dirty little secret. Horses, which the American Veterinary Medical Association classifies as “companion animals” (pets), are rounded up and essentially tortured to death to satisfy foreign palettes.

A painful, fear-filled, inhumane fate awaits over 100,000 of our American horses each year. Because the last operating American slaughterhouse, Cavel International in Illinois, was ordered shut down on April 6th, 2007, the horses have been rerouted to the slaughterhouses of Canada and Mexico. In Mexico, the slaughter plants render horses with a knife stabbed into the horses’ back repeatedly until the spinal cord is severed. The animals are then lifted up by chains, their throats slit, and bled to death, often while still conscious, with waiting horses looking on.

I found out about horse slaughter four years ago, while working on a novel. Wanting to round out the main character, and living in the West, I decided to make the character a horse rescuer, then set about researching the subject on the internet. What sort of horses need rescue? Where do rescued horses come from? What I learned horrified, outraged and profoundly changed me. How did I not know about horse slaughter before? How in a civilized country built by the horse, and where Americans don’t eat horsemeat, are we betraying and exporting our national heritage for foreign consumption?

Vowing to do my part, and now four years later, if you looked outside my living room window you would see two horses and a donkey grazing in the corral, saved from slaughter and the horrors that await so many other American horses, donkeys and mules. The reality is, far from being old, crippled or useless, these equines were young, sound, and desperately in need of someone who cared.

HorsesDuring my research I came across Columbia Basin Equine Rescue, or CBER, a horse rescue group in Washington state that works with horses presently on the feedlots. From their website, you can place a beautiful face and kind eyes on the slaughter statistics, and view horses presently on “death row”. And you can even do something about it — adopt one of these feedlot horses, or, make a donation to save a horse’s life. CBER is hands on, working in the emotional trenches as they evaluate each horse and post their availability on the internet. There are days when no more can be done; the truck that takes the horses to slaughter pulls up and with many tears shed, another unfortunate group of unadopted horses is loaded and whisked away. Their photos are taken down and moved to the “In Memory” page of CBER‘s website.

It’s time to stop the inhumane and callous exploitation of American horses. Support the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which prohibits United States slaughterhouses from processing horses for food to be sold in Europe and Asia, and bans the exportation of live horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. Write your Senators, your Representatives, your President and let them know the murder of American horses is unacceptable. Start an Anti-Slaughter petition, sign an Anti-Slaughter petition, educate family and friends, and educate yourself. Don’t turn away and do nothing, now that you know; the horses need your outrage and your compassion. There are so many things in life we can’t control; the slaughtering of America’s horses is not one of them.

For more information:

Columbia Basin Equine Rescue:

Shark: Showing Animals Respect and Kindness:

1st Photo:
This is Kiva Glow, being ridden and evaluated by Jeff, a horse trainer, and a rider for CBER. Kiva Glow was shipped to slaughter on 8-13-07, after time ran out. His ad for a second chance read: 20 year old, 14.2h, roan BLM gelding. He ties, and easy to tack up. He was good to ride but does not appear to know much. Split reined and neck reined a little, does not respond well to leg pressure. Just a little refresher course is all he would need. He was sure footed as many mustangs are and was sound at time of assessment. Picked up his feet gentle and willingly.

2nd Photo:
Peter was on the feedlot in July of 2007. His ad for a second chance read: Very sweet yearling QH/TB, halter broke & very very friendly. Would make someone a great project. In the photo, he is one-year-old. He stands with his new owner, 14-year-old Alyssa. Which fate do you think a horse would choose, if a horse could choose his fate?

3rd Photo: Shipping Day: “Despite the best efforts of CBER and it’s supporters, not all the horses can be saved. The best way to save all of the horses from slaughter is to support the Anti-Slaughter Legislation for American Horses.”

To see more photos, visit

170 Responses to “Columbia Basin Equine Rescue: Horse Lovers And Activists Saving Slaughter-bound Equines”

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  1. P. O'Brien says:

    Sam says:

    Why a bullet? I prefer this method for my own horses. I take all the horses in my care seriously. While death is not a fun topic it is part of life and what is importatnt to me is that the horse has no fear, does not suffer and rests in a digified place.
    How convenient that this method is also inexpensive, and “recycling” the horses (leaving them out for predators to eat) is free.

    The saddest part of this story was one mare did not need to die, and quite possibly the other mare - with proper veterinary care (vet was not consulted) and feeding - did not need to die either.

    It looks like these two ladies were just inconvenient, and it was easier and cheaper to kill them than it was to help them.

    Compare that philosophy re euthanasia with that of Habitat for Horses, another large and very legitimate rescue:

  2. savehorsesnow says:

    Sam WILL NOT dump a horse at the dump. Read it in “Sam’s own words”. Debate over euthanization by drug or bullet, but the method is chosen by the individual. Both methods are legal, by the way.

    As for the author, she is too busy helping horses to waste time on internet fighting like you all seem to do. It seems that is all you do, while CBER saves horses.

    You’re calling the author “Em”? Is she a friend of yours? Somehow I doubt that. All you cowards hide behind your silly screen names. Go save some horses and get off the computer for a change.

  3. savehorsesnow says:

    I forgot to add:

    Ms Murdoch, we’re all waiting for more articles from you! Itchmo could use some (superb) horse coverage. Keep writing for the horses!

    Kate B.

  4. P. O'Brien says:


    Superb horse coverage.


  5. savehorsesnow says:

    Yup, INDEED. I’m looking forward to seeing her continue to use her talent to bring attention to horse slaughter in this country. While you and your cronies snivel, fight and endanger the feedlot horses with your vindictive and certifiable rantings, she’s using her words to make a difference. Have to admire that.

  6. P. O'Brien says:

    Savehorsesnow, “I and my vindictive cronies” work quite hard and spend a lot of money saving horses and helping legitimate rescues financially.

    CBER is not a rescue, but a horse trader, and a dishonest horse trader - in the opinions of many, including former “volunteers.” Legitimate horse rescues don’t shoot mares (Lavender and Meadow) rather than having a vet visit or paying for feed. Trust me on this one. Legitimate rescues are sometimes called in to re-rescue CBER-placed horses. Legitimate rescues make sure their horses are going to good and safe homes. Legitimate rescues make sure horses they place are healthy, both physically and emotionally. They put time, money and training into the horses first.

    So get real and try addressing the actual issues instead of spewing childish attacks. Or better yet, try making CBER into an actual rescue. That would be a lovely change and we all would welcome it.

  7. P. O'Brien says:

    Savehorsesnow, “I and my vindictive cronies” work quite hard and spend a lot of money saving horses and helping legitimate rescues financially.

    CBER is not a rescue, but a horse trader, and a dishonest horse trader - in the opinions of many, including former “volunteers.” Legitimate horse rescues don’t shoot mares (Lavender and Meadow) rather than having a vet visit or paying for feed. Trust me on this one. Legitimate rescues are sometimes called in to re-rescue CBER-placed horses. Legitimate rescues make sure their horses are going to good and safe homes. Legitimate rescues make sure horses they place are healthy, both physically and emotionally.

    So get real and try addressing the actual issues instead of spewing childish attacks. Or better yet, try to improve CBER and make it into a real rescue. That would serve the whole planet.

    As far as the author of this piece, I hope in the future she does her homework before promoting a faux rescue.

  8. Caitlyn Bushaw says:

    After reading Emily Murdoch’s article about horse slaughter, I would just like to say thank you Emily, for caring enough to post that article. What we need is more people like you to actually make a difference. As far as CBER goes, I know someone who used to be a highly active volunteer for them, and I agree with the statements saying that CBER isn’t a legitimate rescue. Sorry, but you don’t kill horses to avoid having the vet come to see them or feeding them, because the purpose of a horse rescue is to SAVE LIVES. Sam, who I have met in person more than once, seems to be a nice, caring person, but it is now apparent that she is just the opposite. So, Sam, please take your “horse rescue” and shove it up your ass.
    Thank you for your time.

  9. brooke says:

    it is not nice for people to do that to horses it should be stoppes right away

  10. LHCasino says:

    The horse Kiva Glow was placed once by this organization with a lady in Thorp. She couldn’t keep the horse for one reason or another and this “rescue” would not take it back. The horse was returned to the lot it was originally rescued from, the organization listed it for adoption again-but this time the horse shipped. To bad that the “rescue” didn’t keep the horse safe the first time they placed it and failed it the second time it was in need. This is not a rescue…they are middlemen for a horse broker.

  11. The knowledge lady says:

    CBER is now officially out of business, thank goodness. Why do I say that? It has been common knowledge for years that Sam has been ripping people off right , left and center. She and her thinly disguised rescue is nothing more than a horse trader that pays on people’s emotions. Her orginization is now under investigation. You can find out much more at these 2 blog posts from a former volunteer.

  12. Gina says:

    I could not be happier to hear that CBER is no longer in buisness. I have re-rescued a horse that they placed with a gal who horribly neglected the little filly. She will never be more than 13h and should have matured to 15+h. I called CBER to let them know what happens when they don’t check people out and they didn’t seem to care. I applaud whom ever it was who was able to get them shut down. Thank you!

  13. HorseandWriter says:

    Hello Everyone!

    I want to thank everyone who read and commented on my article on horse slaughter. Thank you for your praise, your passion, and even the heated debate. Only by such discussions can important knowledge be shared and perhaps, hopefully, more horses saved. I am happy knowing my writing about horse slaughter has reached people who had no idea this practice exists, and my dear wish remains that, as more of us become aware, we can make the final difference for these horses.

    I am no longer an advocate of CBER, although I remain an advocate of all horses on feedlots awaiting the horrific journey to slaughter. I continue to help these unfortunate horses through rescues closer to home.

    Thanks again for taking the time out of your busy lives to read and comment on my article. I hope you use that kindled passion to help save the horses! You can do this through your support of those rescues you trust and admire. As anyone rehabbing rescue horses knows, it is an expensive proposition and donations are always appreciated, whether they be horse items, yourself and your time, or financial donations.

    All the best to everyone,
    Emily Murdoch

  14. horselover says:

    I too used to support CBER and $am…but after finding out that she returns horses to the feedlot to send to slaughter because they are done with QT (only her ranch is allowed to do QT for Cber horses adopted)..and no longer generating income for her..she “kills” them! This is NOT a rescue…it is a scam that she has run for a long time now! She needs to be put out of “business” and quite stealing peoples money..and KILLING our horses! It is a disgrace that she has been allowed to do this time and time again with these innocent horses. She prays on peoples emotions to get their money.

    PS: She is also employing (and sleeping with) a convicted child molester who molested a child of 8 yrs old..and also had been convicted of torture and killing a cat! Do you want someone like that looking at your financial and private information when applying to adopt a horse? WHY HASN’T SHE BEEN INVESTIGATED AND SHUT DOWN YET?? ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!

  15. savehorsesnow says:

    It appears Emily is still helping horses. She has a blog and a post on wild mustangs. Thank you Emily for caring about the horses. is the address if anyone wants to read. I didn’t know about the mustangs. People just kill horses everywhere.

    Kate B

  16. horse truth says:

    CBER it seems is not out ou business. Seems that they just got a different name and new web page same old people running it tho.

  17. jessica says:

    i love how you show the picture of that brown horse. beutiful

  18. Gina says:

    I rescued a filly through CBER and she is exactly as represented, the CBER people were fantastic, thoughtful and prompt in helping me with her. This organization is not what the detractors claim. I donate money to CBER with pride knowing what I’ve learned about their volunteers and what I’ve experienced personally in saving and adopting a great little horse. Just my two cents.

  19. Cantstandlies says:

    I just wanted to input that yes, Cber saves “some” lives from going to slaughter…but what about those that are returned to the slaughter pipeline AFTER all of their funds have been paid? happens a lot more than we like to think! SAM is out for the money..nothing else. When times get tough financially for CBER, they ditch all the horses that are sponsored..that is not a rescue. Sam solely relies on funds that come in off ABR board, and other “suckers” who donate their funds to them..especially funds that are demanded for a month of care at HER farm..then the horse NEVER lasts the full 30 days as paid for. So, before everyone jumps some research of what has really happened..and why SO MANY previous volunteers are soured by CBER and Sam..and why so many of them are willing to talk of the deaths that Sam caused for the horses…She is NOT a true rescue!

  20. Grace says:

    Maybe it is time to sit down and look at the real issues. There will always be horse abuse and neglect and with the closure of the slaughter houses it has more then doubled. I am not a fan of slaughter as a matter of fact I have 4 old pensioners 3 cripples and two horses that no one wants to ride. However, I am in the very fortunate position to be able to afford feed, shoeing, vet care and pasture for them. Many people are not. So where do these unwanted horses go? Now they go to Mexico or Canada. So instead of saving these horses their suffering is simply prolonged. The Horse slaughter industry needed some work that is a given but it sure as hell beats riding in a cattle truck for 40 some hours or being starved to death or being turned loose on the highway to be hit by a semi. This is what the unwanted horses of the US are facing today. There will always be horses that people are unable to keep and by taking away the slaughter industry they are being driven to dire measures. Thirty emaciated horses were found in dry lot pens owned by a couple in Cody Wyoming that couldn’t afford to feed them. I know what a bunch of idiots for buying thirty horses but getting to the point which is if these horses could have been sold for slaughter they wouldn’t have sat there starving for months on end. There is always going to be that person who wants his/her last nickel out of old brownie, that we can not change. What we can change is old brownie breaking a leg in a cattle truck on his way to Mexico. It is time to change the US policy. We must have a way for these neglected unwanted horses to be slaughtered humanly.

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