Help Fund Our 2013 Investigations

(From the desk of Anne St. Michael)

"Our dedication cards were read and our devotional candles were lit by these beautiful people"

“Our dedication cards were read and our devotional candles were lit by these beautiful people”

Animals’ Angels is pleased to announce new gifts for purchase that are available in our Cafe Press Store. Our merchandise is imprinted with beautiful photographs, taken during Light The Sky 2012! These items can be worn or used every day. Choose from hats, T-shirts, aprons, tiles, mouse pads, logo stickers and canvas bags. Every purchase made provides funding for our upcoming 2013 investigations. What a worthy cause! Your generous donations help insure Animals’ Angels will continue to publish their monthly newsletter, which includes in-depth investigative reports, plus the periodic updates that are provided on our Facebook page. If you have not yet done so, please Like Us (see side bar).

"A lovely reminder to say a prayer for those we will not forget"

“A lovely reminder to say a prayer for those we will never forget”

I love taking my time drinking my morning coffee and baking. My husband likes wearing sports shirts and hats, so we are going to buy some items for ourselves. Our products, featuring the ceremony of December 1, 2012, “Light the Sky, are a beautiful reminder to continue reaching out to friends. For example, those we meet standing in line at the grocery or department store, or waiting for the Metro, gives us the opportunity to introduce the difficult topic of the mistreatment of America’s horses and farm animals. There are so many people who have no idea these things are happening in the USA. People need to learn about these matters and you could be the one who will open their eyes … just by carrying a bag, or wearing a cool hat or a T-shirt!

"A great way to share an open discussion about these important issues"

“A great way to share an open discussion about these important issues”

This is your invitation to visit our non-profit store at Cafe Press to choose and order some cool articles today. Keep in mind every sale is important because it is for the benefit of horses, mules, donkeys, burros and farm animals. These betrayed animals need their story to be told loud and clear. Animals’ Angels presents us with documented footage that our farm animals and horses are not being treated with dignity or respect. With more and more people getting involved … even if it is just by purchasing a few items or making a donation through PayPal (see sidebar), progressive change will come. By joining together we will see improvements made by our insisting that the laws in place must be followed, and that The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act will finally be passed into law. Every positive action taken on behalf of these animals is a step in the right direction. Be a part of this movement.

Come on over and Shop Today! Animals’ Angels depends upon supporter generosity and we thank you most sincerely. We certainly wish you a very joyful Holiday Season.

We’re Excited To Light The Sky!

Animals’ Angels and friends are preparing for our big Fundraising Event tomorrow. Light The Sky is our annual way to show the animals that have touched our lives that we will never forget them. All day long, these wonderful people have been assembling our supporter’s candles and placing their dedication cards on the wall. All are honored to be a part of this auspicious occasion to fulfill our hope of a better tomorrow and to pledge our dedication to these animals for whom we pray and Light The Sky.

You still have time to make your donation and get candles and your dedications on the wall. Whenever we come together our light shines even brighter and it is a touching memorial to those we love. We’ll be staying in touch and bringing you more photographs tomorrow. Coming together for this huge day is exciting because giving is always a good thing to do. Won’t you give a little to say a lot? Simply click here and three minutes later you, too, can feel really good about helping our animals and lending your voice to help end the cruelty they endure.

Related articles

Thundering Hooves Includes Animals’ Angels

  “Thundering Hooves ~ A Native Peoples Event” united over twenty Native American Nations and citizens from around our country in Alpine, TX.  Hosted by Neta and Darrel Rhyne of Toyahvale, Texas, a talented array of creative artists, musicians and … Continue reading

An Angel Doing Battle

Sitting Down with Sonja Meadows


“We are there with the animals”

We all have a reason to be here on Earth, and it can be for numerous things we are to do, achieve, accomplish or reach for. We are nudged quietly or it might be a slap-in-the-face wake-up call. Whichever it is, the moment of impact is what always intrigues me. For Sonja Meadows she feels the call of our animals, the peril they are in, the torment they endure and the real need to step up and take action.

The USDA does not have the budget or the investigators to handle the workload or enforce the laws concerning horses in the pipeline. This left an opening that begged the need for a natural leader to step in and take the reins. The in-depth investigative work Animals’ Angels conducts, is the kind that shakes the very foundation of our beliefs leaving most of us wondering why things are as they are, each time these heinous acts are uncovered. Sonja Meadows has answered the call and stood her ground to deliver the truth.

Anne: I have been longing to know precisely what occurred and why you felt compelled to take charge and help these poor animals. Would you please describe the beginning of your involvement in this supreme endeavor? When did you become aware of the plight of horses?

Sonja: Animals’ Angels was born out of the belief that bringing first hand information and reliable documentation of what farm animals endure at auctions, slaughter plants and feedlots to mainstream public as well as government officials would be a very efficient way to improve conditions for all of them. Creating awareness is the first step to bring about change.

When Animals’ Angels started this work in 2007, there was very little information out there about how kill buyers operate, their transport routes and the big collecting stations. We started putting them on the map and it has become much more difficult for them to operate under the radar. Several have faced or still face convictions due to our investigations and others have been forced into “voluntary” compliance.

Anne: I’ve noticed by the newsletters and reports that investigations take place in so many different locations, far from home. There must be a lot of travel involved in documenting the facts in these cases. How do you feel this has changed your life? What is a normal routine for you?

Sonja: To date, we have conducted 113 investigations in 28 states this year – so, yes, a lot of traveling is involved. I just returned from a ten-day investigation at the Mexican border and I am getting ready to head out again soon. The normal routine for an AA investigator is to prepare for the upcoming investigation by: researching location & target, booking flights, hotels, rental cars, and confirming all the extensive equipment needed for a successful investigation is ready.

During the investigation you never know what will happen. You must plan very carefully in order to be prepared for all scenarios. You could face a full forty-hours without sleep when following a truck, or you might sit in your car for days on end, waiting for something to happen. We have been caught in snowstorms and even flash floods. During last week’s assignment in Texas, I hid in some bushes while filming. To my chagrin I stumbled into a wasp nest and was stung multiple times.

“Sonja offers solace to those who need compassion”

But then there are nice moments when curious neighbors see you filming all day long, and they make kind gestures like bringing us refreshing glasses of lemonade and slices of cake to show their support for what we’re doing. This work has changed my life significantly. It’s now much more fast paced, exciting and there’s hardly any down time. I’m dedicated to making changes for these animals, so I have willingly grown accustomed to the demanding schedule.

Anne: Have you been a great lover of animals all of your life? When did you notice your attachment to them and your concern of their welfare? Which types of animals or family pets do you have?

“Hope was rescued from an abusive place”

Sonja: I have been an animal lover as long as I can remember. Currently, our family pet is a black lab. Her name is Hope and she was rescued from a very abusive environment. The visible scars indicate that she had been brutally beaten when she was a puppy. Having told you this I have to say that Hope is the most loving and protective companion you can imagine. It still amazes me that animals are so capable of trusting and loving again after enduring years of abuse. I notice that a lot during our investigations, too. Horses that are completely covered in scars that they resemble walking skeletons, walk right over to you to lick your hand. It is heartbreaking!

Anne: You are involved in the movement against horse slaughter. Last fall you attended Horses On The Hill, alongside celebrities that want to make a change. A year ago, you spoke at the International Equine Conference, where you mentioned an alliance with a cross-Atlantic campaign. The new October Newsletter mentions a large-scale anti-horse slaughter campaign gearing up in the spring of 2013. Can you elaborate on this subject?

Sonja: The details of this cooperation are still confidential; therefore I can’t tell you much. I am very excited about this cooperation though and believe that it will have a lot of positive impact for our horses.

Anne: Your investigations prove repeatedly that farm animals and horses suffer greatly in this country. Even with the laws on the books set down in order to give them a modicum of protection in this pipeline, can you point out a better direction for government auditors and tell us how are we going to stop this?

Sonja: I believe the key to a better future for the animals is to increase the public’s awareness, to fight for stronger animal protection laws and to insist on a more efficient enforcement of existing laws and regulations. We document what is going on in the USA in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, and report our findings to the public. If we can get citizens to act on these issues and demand change with one unified voice, it is going to happen.

“Documenting as transportation laws are being broken”

Anne: There was such a good story about you and a horse named Hawser. What made you go over to that particular trailer that day?

Sonja: I walked over to the trailer because he was owned by a known kill buyer and I heard the horses kicking inside the trailer. When I saw that they were Thoroughbreds I knew that the only way to save these horses was to find out who they were. That’s the reason I immediately flipped up their lips in order to see their tattoo numbers. Hawser is such a sweet horse, I am truly happy that everything worked out the way it did.

Anne: I want you to tell about the play of emotions you and your investigators experience when you are monitoring. Especially that horrid instance two weeks ago in Texas, when the driver started accosting some downer horses with a pointed stick! Let our readers know how powerfully this affects the people documenting this abuse & trying to stop the chaotic madness. How difficult is it to refrain from physically stopping the abuse?

“This Angel is there with the oppressed and the dying”

Sonja: Sometimes it is very, very hard. However, all of my investigators are instructed to always remain professional with their words and actions. You can’t demand respect and initiate a constructive dialogue if you act like a maniac. Our organization is well-respected among government officials and industry is willing to work with us on improving conditions because they know that they can trust our fact-finding. If laws have been violated, we demand prosecution to the fullest extent. However, if someone does a good job, we put that in our reports as well and give credit where credit is due.

Anne: You videotape scenes that are not only excruciatingly difficult to watch, but they must be agonizing for you to witness. This is a traumatic thing you and your investigators do. It is a necessary thing in order to accurately describe what is really going on. Seeing the total removal of the kill buyers’ feelings, or the handler that doesn’t mind using an electric prod. The auctioneer who thinks it’s just another day. What kind of nation have we been reduced to? This undertaking is painful before, during and a long time after the experience. I don’t think the public realizes how hard this is on your mental, physical and spiritual well-being, so I want you to take off the hard armor of protection and confess what is in your heart.

Sonja: I do lay awake at night thinking about the animals I saw the day before, the suffering, the horrific injuries … the injustice of it all. I sometimes get very angry and frustrated that it takes so long for things to improve or to change, when it would be so easy to do the right thing. I still remember every single animal I have found dying or injured and I believe I always will.

I think that is how the idea for our annual fundraising event “Light the Sky” was born. Every year, our investigators and I light candles for all the animals that crossed our paths that year and give them names to remember them as individuals, not as the horse with Back-tag #4356, or Production Unit 112. Lighting these candles helps us cope, but it’s also a way to renew our vow that we will continue to fight for a better future for all of them.

Anne: When I asked about non-ambulatory animals you explained what they are and also the dreadful conditions where some of our “Dairy Cows” live. Would you tell us more about this please?

Sonja: A non-ambulatory animal is also referred to as a downer. This means that an animal is unable to rise or walk without assistance. There are many different reasons why an animal can become a downer, such as heat stress, exhaustion, injury, or being trampled by other animals in a packed trailer or pen.

“Sonja Meadows documents the evidence”

“Spent Dairy Cows” (as industry calls cows at the end of their productive milking period when they are shipped to auction and sold to slaughter), are likely to become non-ambulatory, because their bones are weakened from years of intensive milk production (calcium deficiencies) and break easily. If they slip and fall, chances are that they will not be able to rise again.

Animals’ Angels is working with auctions nationwide to establish protocols on how to deal with these non-ambulatory animals humanely, by ensuring that they are never moved with chains, skid loaders or other devices.


Animals’ Angels Inc continues to “be there with the animals”. They outline the ongoing abuse of our animals, highlighting deplorable conditions, uncovering kill buyers, and documenting illegal acts. They videotape and photograph the lack of care by those handling animals in transit, right down to the outright neglect of some equine that are mercilessly and slowly starved to death.

The important news is that we all can act and get involved by sharing (on social networks) the links to our blog, our website, any news stories on this subject and by getting in touch with our State’s Representatives. If you want to help get these bills passed into laws and to stop horse slaughter of our horses, then you should act today. Write or phone your Representatives twice weekly.

Consider donating on a monthly basis to keep this team of Animals’ Angels defending those without a voice. Tell your family and friends to repeat what you do to lend support so our non-profit organization can continue to do what is important. Remember undercover investigations are quite costly and since most people would never dream of going to these auctions, feedlots or following transport trucks for hours on end, there is an easier way for us to insure this work continues.

Click the donate button and make a one-time donation or you may consider a monthly automatic charitable deposit that will allow your contributions to fund these reports and expenses. We rely on your aid to help fund in this vital work. The government is enforcing the laws we do have. We need to raise the roof so all of America can learn about the fight to end the abuse endured every second of every day by animals who have no voice. Make a difference. Get involved. Please … do it now!



A Vision Of Thundering Hooves

“Neta shares her vision of Thundering Hooves”

Neta and Darrel Rhyne own the little town called Toyahvale, located in West Texas, situated in the foothills of the Davis Mountains. Balmorhea State Park, which is operated by Texas Park and Wildlife, is also located in Toyahvale where the San Solomon Springs emerge bringing forth an amazing one million gallons of fresh, clear, and warm spring-fed water every hour. Darrel is a scuba diving instructor and this past summer he taught SCUBA to 150 Boy Scouts from Buffalo Trails Scout Ranch just south of Toyahvale. The community of Toyahvale also consists of the Funky L’il Dive Shop and the Toyahvale Desert Oasis both owned and operated by the Rhyne family for over twenty-five years. Sadly, it’s also a popular travel route for kill buyers hauling their cache of horses across the border for slaughter in Mexico.

This tiny and mostly idyllic part of the world is theirs, complete with a story Neta wrote titled, “The Magical Desert Kingdom”. They have lived and worked here for a number of decades, raised their three children and now spend time with their three grandkids.

The major thing casting a shadow on their lives is the haunting sounds of the tractor-trailers, being downshifted and Jake-brakes applied when the drivers slow down their heavy vehicles, as they begin their turn onto the highway leading south, across the US border and deep into Mexico. Neta Rhyne felt the lost souls of these beautiful horses needed a voice to tell their story because they were so much more than just “cargo” going down the road to their fate. Thus “Thundering Hooves — A Native People’s Event” grew from the spark of an idea into a dream come true.  I was lucky enough to sit down with Neta recently to learn more about her work on this one of a kind event. Continue reading

Pro Slaughter Movement?

From the Desk of Anne St. Michael

“We believe horses are the backbone of American pioneers and in building our industries “

Until ten days ago I’d never heard this term. Jumping into the thick of investigations conducted by Animals’ Angels, Inc., watching videos, seeing photographs, exploring their website, made me want to keep learning. I dug deeper to expand my consideration and to understand more by reading government documents, visiting and reading report after report. I learned about laws I didn’t even know existed and most disturbing of all is the fact that until 2009 I never dreamed horses were being mistreated … not like this and never for food!  Since I have been visiting the social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, I have been learning a whole lot more from the new Facebook friends I have connected with. This whole new world of “Horses Bound For Slaughter” made me understand that it was time to put on my boxing gloves. Even though I could not look at the envelopes coming to my home (passing them off to be read by my husband), I did sign every petition, and mailed them off thinking (very naively I must add) that the law was passed and the bad stuff had just stopped. Gone away. When I’m wrong … I say I’m wrong.

Not only have I read and recently began writing about this subject, I have absorbed the depth of this struggle. It is overwhelming! Were it not for the dedication of the team of Animals’ Angels getting involved, taking risks, and standing up for the rights of these horses facing the unthinkable, I would have never been here lending my support. In early August, Animals Angels went to the Midwest and conducted a very important investigation into newly identified kill buyers. Their report details the largest horse sale at Kalona Horse Auction, giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the barnyards and the condition of the horses. They filmed disturbing footage of terrified horses passing through an electronic hydraulic gate that each horse must pass through to enter the loud auction ring. They tell about a worker striking the horses with a stick. Plus, earlier that morning, our investigators were almost killed or injured in the parking lot, but miraculously got out of harms way! Continue reading