Angel Appreciation For All of You!

"Animals' Angels symbolizes outstanding guardianship for our equine and farm animals"

“Animals’ Angels symbolizes outstanding guardianship for our equine and farm animals”

(Below an interview w/ founder Sonja Meadows)

When Animals’ Angels began it was with the hope that change could be brought about and that the animals forced into the slaughter pipeline would be spotlighted. That the animals who suffered needlessly would have their stories told and that above all … somehow more people would get involved and care enough to sign petitions, phone their representatives and demand for this ugliness to stop.

"Animals' Angels symbolizes outstanding guardianship for our equine and farm animals"

“Animals’ Angels symbolizes outstanding guardianship for our equine and farm animals”

It’s been rotations of harsh winters, scorching summers, dangerous weather, and long vigils sitting and waiting for hours on end, in order to document the harshest and cruelest deeds against these animals. Animals’ Angels has courageously been there with the animals. It is most difficult to read their reports and even harder to watch the damning videos. I wonder … how much more difficult is it to purposely watch yet not be able to save these innocent victims … in monitoring the successive events leading up to the torment and death of these gorgeous, intelligent animals? What a price to pay in order to do something valuable and good for these equine and farm animals. Animals’ Angels supplies all of us with the necessary ammunition so we can make a conscious decision to become involved in this fight. They place strong emphasis on getting the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act passed. Because together we can help end the suffering of these equine and insist that the authorities enforce the laws already on the books for the protection of horses and farm animals.

"Personal words written by our supporters"

“Personal words written by our supporters”

Light the Sky 2012 fundraising is still ongoing through the end of the year. We appreciate each and every one of you that has made the decision to join forces, donate dedication candles and to help keep the investigations going strong. There is progress taking place slowly but surely and as these candles were lit in memory of our beloved pets we have lost, they were especially lit for those animals who were not saved. Every candle held significant meaning. Every donation from the smallest to the largest was given by those of us who want the unvarnished truth to be told. We want Animals’ Angels to know they are not alone.

"Angels on earth Amber, Brandi and Sonja"

“Angels on earth Amber, Brandi and Sonja”

They are the voice of the animals we care about and because of these investigators we learn what the animals are going through every time we see updates or read full-length reports included in Animals’ Angels Newsletters. If we did not support their efforts investigators would not be able to uncover the plight of these animals and the horses would be treated far worse than they already are! The auctions, kill buyers, feed lots and transporters need to be seen for what they are … and if no one is willing to watch them then we have failed as people to protect our equine. By donating and speaking out and speaking up and standing together we show the world there is hope to make a “Mighty Change“! Animals’ Angels is a major part of this hope.

"The spirit of man needs the spirit of our horses"

“The spirit of man needs the spirit of our horses”

Light The Sky 2012 event was successful because of you! We honored those we could not save. Many travelers and local citizens in Toyahvale, Texas, stopped to take a look at the wailing wall. They asked for and received information. They took time to read our dedication cards. They listened to the stories of slaughter and what our animals must endure. They stood on the road that transport trailers use when they drive our equine into Mexico.

"The wailing wall marks the trail of tears"

“The wailing wall marks the highway of tears”

These concerned people learned the event was a dedication for those poor souls who have been tragically slaughtered. Most of them decided to support Animals’ Angels and their efforts.

It’s so easy to donate. Click: Support Animals’ Angels Investigations and in about three minutes you’re done and you can feel good about the money you share. Giving is such a kind and generous thing to do for our animals. Thank you for caring and being a significant and growing hope for a better year ahead.

Chatting with Sonja Meadows


Anne: Tell me more about the weekend and have you reached your goal for your 2013 investigations yet?

"Loving and dedicated people reverently light the candles to remember our fallen equine"

“Loving and dedicated people reverently light the candles to remember our fallen equine”

Sonja: We don’t know yet since people are still sending in donations for the event. We will not have the final count until January. I would just say that the support was overwhelming and that we received hundreds of prayers, stories and pictures.

Anne: Did this event surpass the others in the involvement of the public and new supporters?

"People learned about how our horses, mules and burros are transported across our borders"

“People learned about how our horses, mules and burros are transported across our borders”

Sonja: Yes, it did. The location is just perfect and the prayers are very visible along the highway of tears. All weekend we had people stop and pull over with their cars and inquiring about the event and the significance of the location. Most people had no idea that it is this road that takes all these horses to their deaths. Lots of them took brochures and reports with them and promised to check out the website. I feel that we gathered a lot of new supporters that weekend and that local awareness was increased greatly.

Anne: Were there a few standout moments that impressed you or drew you in ceremony?

Sonja: I was impressed how committed people were to make the ceremony a success. Everybody worked so hard preparing everything, setting up thousands of candles, printing out reports and erecting signs. It was an incredible team effort. We all started lighting when the sun was setting behind the mountains. It was so beautiful and all of us were united in prayer. The feeling of hope for a better future was very strong.

Anne: Who lead the prayers?

Sonja: No one. Prayers were very individual, but everyone was united within the spirit. Micki Free was there to show his support for our organization and played a song for us that he had created just for this event.

Anne: What symbolizes how you felt … how you feel about another year that you and your team have worked so hard for the horses?

"There is reverence for our fallen animals ... They will not be forgotten ... Mickie Free lighting candles"

“There is reverence for our fallen animals … They will not be forgotten … Mickie Free lighting candles”

Sonja: Like every year, it was a very intense to remember all the animals that have crossed our path in 2012. My investigators and I had given them all names and recited those names while lighting candles on their behalf. I feel very good about what was accomplished this year for the animals. We have conducted more investigations than ever and have brought several offenders to justice. I think all of us renewed our vow to keep going while we were lighting candles. We will not rest until we have completed our mission. I am very excited about the Toyahvale location and while lighting candles I felt that this was the beginning of something great. I am already looking forward to next year’s event.


Be a part of the Mighty Change. Please support Animals Angels and donate today. Thank you it means everything for the animals.

A special event takes place tonight in New York City. The documentary “Saving America’s Horses” premieres. We are sending good wishes there will be a lot of positive news coverage to raise public awareness about this film. Animals’ Angels not only supported but provided important documentation and footage for the making of this film.

(Photography by: Nancy Smith-Blackwell)

Crystal Clear Intentions

“Wall Of Hope … Light the Sky”

Light the Sky 2012 is just five-days away and you still have time to add your voice, dedication, prayer and donation to light your own candle. Imagine how brightly the night will shine for these animals we have loved and for those animals who are facing the impossibly cruel fate of an assured death. By coming together we stand stronger. The sharing of Animals’ Angels vital investigations, means that we citizens will not stay quiet about animal slaughter and animal abuse, nor will we turn away from understanding the escalation of these tortured animals and the deaths they face.

“Personalized Messages”

Our crystal clear intentions shine forth in the thousands of personalized messages from supporters who have taken the easy step to participate in Light The Sky 2012. We light candles in remembrance of our pets who have passed away and for those animals who travel the road to be slaughtered. We let the world know we want things to change and do what we can to end this unethical killing.

“Reflected Misery In Their Eyes”

Animals’ Angels conducts skilled investigations on behalf of our equine and farm animals. These dedicated messengers are paramount in uncovering and in bringing illegal practices to our attention. These reports remind us to stay vigilant, to never forget how these animals suffer each and every day. Did you know that every thirty-seconds another horse, mule or burro is killed? When I read the reports and see the horrid photographs I actually cringe. It feels as if death has squeezed my heart with long icy-cold fingers and then a dread comes over me because I feel as if I cannot do anything to stop this madness. I am but one person, one voice. But I am not alone. There are thousands of others who feel the same sadness and hopelessness and outrage and anger, too. Together we take a stand to keep the truth circulating, keep the horrors of what is being done out front and center. Together we tell the kill buyers that we will not go away.

“Animals’ Angels Light the Sky”

The purity with which these candles are lit shows our Crystal Clear Intentions. We remember the beauty and love we have received and shared with our furry creatures. We honor them and pray that the continued work of Animals’ Angels, combined with our donations supporting their work, will bring about the conviction of animal abusers and those who break the laws already set in place. We resolve to renew the pledge to bring about change for these animals and to keep contacting our representatives in order for better laws to be passed to end needless suffering of any animal. We remind the world that these beings have souls and integrity and possess a great capacity to love us humans.

Just below are a handful of dedications from people near and far who have already donated to have their candles lit on the eve of December First. Please read them and hopefully you will remember all of the animals who have touched your life. You may recall some you might have forgotten through the years. By honoring their memory with a donated candle, the love will grow bigger and the light will shine brighter. Add your dedication and show your love by making a donation to Animals’ Angels today. All donations received before 1:00 p.m. December 1, 2012, will be added to the wall. Just five days left to share this with your family and friends and contacts. Ask them to be a part of Light the Sky 2012 and to assure the future essential reports that only Animals’ Angels brings to us.

“Just Prior His Transport To Mexico September 2012”

Remember: A nation with knowledge makes the right decisions. Help the movement to end animal abuse and horse slaughter. Be a part of something good and bright!

Here are just a few of our 2012 supporters donation cards:

Charlyn, Port Angeles, WA

Yes, I would like to light a candle for the following animal(s): For my two horses: Rajah, a 23-year-old beautiful Arabian gelding who is also my best friend and Kip, a 12-year-old Arabian gelding who is a total character and my five cats who all came into my life through some miraculous ways. My heart breaks for these poor horses and other animals that are forsaken, abused and killed every year. Dear God, people NEED to DO something!!

This is his/her story I would like to share: Rajah entered my life 14 years ago. He had some scars on his legs and body but had healed nicely. I do not know his history prior to the people who owned him, that I bought him from, but he was that way when they bought him. If he was a victim of abuse, they never killed his spirit, his gentleness or his love of life! He is one of the BEST horses I’ve ever had. He has never placed a wrong foot on the trails and, thank God, he has me as his friend … someone who will love him forever.

Marilyn, Pagosa Springs, CO

Yes, I would like to light a candle for the following animal(s): These 3 candles are for 29 wild mares who were captured in Oregon and sold to slaughter by the BLM through Tom Davies, a Colorado kill buyer. They had no names, but were admired by the local people who came to see them. Then overnight they were gone and BLM gave no explanation!

This is his/her story I would like to share: This is for the 29 mostly pregnant mares that Oregon BLM had Tom Davis come and ship to slaughter. If I had known this would happen I would have done everything in my power to save them but we were never given a choice and so I could do nothing because this was illegal and done in the night. I think of these beautiful wild mares and the foals they did not give birth to because they were slaughtered. Thank you Animals’ Angels for all you do!!

“A light for the life of a beautiful animal”

“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That is the essence of inhumanity.” George Bernard Shaw

Lisa, Huntsville, AL

Yes, I would like to light a candle for the following animal(s): Dedicated to all the wild mustang stolen from their legal domain, ripped from their families, betrayed, abused, and murdered in spite of laws that are supposed to protect & preserve them.

This is his/her story I would like to share: Congress mandated the Bureau of Land Management to protect & preserve America’s Wild Horses & Burros but this agency violates that mandate and is committing genocide upon our treasured icons. Pray that Congress will pass HR2966 & S1176 banning transport to slaughter, giving equine the protection they deserve and ending this trail of betrayal and murder of God’s most exquisite gift.

Georgia, Huntington, NY

Yes, I would like to light a candle for the following animal(s): Trudy Golden Tyler Golden Ryder.

This is his/her story I would like to share: I found my little dog, Trudy, in the North Shore Animal League. She was a puppy mill rescue from Missouri, where she was rescued from a neglectful and inhumane life. Trudy had given birth at least one litter. It was clear that she had never lived inside with humans. I taught her to climb stairs, go through doorways and be around humans. She startled at every movement. Now through caring and calm training she is a happy, affectionate little companion. Puppy mills are inhumane and should be outlawed.

Lisa, Seattle, WA

Yes, I would like to light a candle for the following animal(s): The nameless who once had names.

This is his/her story I would like to share: My candles are for the 118 horses that were bought by kill buyers from the Eugene, OR livestock auction in the past four months. These were healthy, trained, affectionate horses who were kid’s horses, ranch horses, lesson horses, who were all so confused and scared as they loaded onto the trucks … wondering where their families had gone.

“Dedications In Memory Of Our Animals”

Mariza, Overland Park, KS

Yes, I would like to light candle for the following animal(s): Versailles.

This is his/her story I would like to share: We bought Versailles, an OTTB, when he was 5. He was skinny, neglected, & covered in rain rot but kind & loving. 2 years ago (age 7) he became lame & went to the vet for an ultrasound guided Stifle injection. Something went wrong & he couldn’t wake up from anesthesia. We had to put him down but held him in our arms. Autopsy did not reveal cause of death. He was such a wonderful friend. We miss him so much! We pray for him everyday & know we will see him at the Rainbow Bridge.

Robin, Bay Minette, AL

Yes, I would like to light a candle for the following animal(s): Windy – Half Arabian Mare (Faleh granddaughter).

This is his/her story I would like to share: Stolen from a Houston, TX boarding stable during the Texas slaughter years and never recovered! Thought to have been taken to the infamous auction house at that time in Spring, TX (Bud Woods). She was under the care of Texas A & M at the time she was stolen and with her medical problems probably sold as horse meat going for 0.80/lb. in 1979.

“Light The Sky”

Holly, Catasauqua, PA

Yes, I would like to light a candle for the following animal(s): Ferdinand, the Kentucky derby winner who was ultimately slaughtered after stud duties were ended, like Exceller, the racehorse that was also slaughtered.  And to all those beautiful creatures entrusted to us – I love you.

This is his/her story I would like to share: It is for all the racehorses I burn my candle and would like to acknowledge the thoroughbred racehorse particularly. These racehorses learn and perform their craft, some to perfection. And in doing so, line the pockets of their owners with wealth. They do this without promise of a sweet pasture in which to retire. Some end up slaughtered despite how victorious. My candle burns for all these regal creatures. The horse must be God’s personal animal. Burn little candle, and illuminate the heavens …

Get your candle now and Light the Sky for the animals!

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Candles Of Love


“Light The Sky”


Things I remember  

Most about you

Are not the recent

Times I mourned

But of days

Spent together

Moments we shared  

Unconditional love


You touched and

Warmed my heart

Your liquid eyes

 Pools of trust

Irresistible connection

From that moment

Until even now 

Your blessings remain


I’ll add my

Candles of love 

To numerous candles lit 

By those who understand

The indelible marks

Compassionate animals

Leave upon us humans

A mighty wealth of love


December First

Words spoken after sunset

Our candles lighting the sky

A glowing tribute

To all animal life

For the lives of

Those we shared and

For those we could not save


“Light in memory of the animals”

Please join with me and thousands of others who have set aside December 1, 2012, as a day of memory for those animals who have touched our lives and of all of the animals spoken about in our publications and investigations. Watch the video, read the announcement and be a part of this incredible journey of these great animals. The candles are increasing in number and from the comfort of your homes you can be a vital part of helping end the torment and abuse of our animals. Thank you. Donate a candle today and write a your personal dedication.

(poem written by Anne St. Michael 11-13-12) 

Part Two: Dinner With Craig

(Continued from Part One)

“Wild Horses Sierra Nevadas”

Anne:  What led you to creating The Andean Tapir Fund? To me the Mountain Tapir  resembles a cross between a bear and possibly a mule, or even an elephant? They are so different from the animals with which I am familiar. Would you give us a summary of their heritage?

Craig: I created the Andean Tapir Fund in order to save the endangered Mountain, or Andean, Tapir of the northern Andes in its wild habitat – the Andean forest and paramo, or moorland above the tree line. It is estimated that there are only ca. 2,000 of these left in ca. 20 regions falling between northern Peru, passing through Ecuador and on into Colombia. My efforts and those of my organization have helped save hundreds of thousands of acres from development by agriculture and mining, etc., most recently a 330,000 acre reserve is in the process of being declared in Northern Peru due in large part to our efforts, which included extensive species lists and a description of this center of species endemism called the Huancabamba Depression.  This is at the southernmost extent of the Mountain Tapir’s distribution.

A mountain tapir Tapirus pinchaque at the San ...

A mountain tapir Tapirus pinchaque photo by Elissa Berver

The Mountain Tapir is in the same order as the horse and the rhino, namely Perissodactyla, or the odd-toed ungulates, or hoofed grazers. Tapirs resemble the early ancestors of horses and rhinos, dating back over 50-million years, yet they have continued to advance in their own special way, evolving a prehensile proboscis that is the same type of organ as an elephant’s trunk. With this tapirs squirt water, reach high leaves and fruits, break branches, caress each other, take baths, shoo away biting insects, and do all sorts of behaviors, including whistling shrilly! They are considered living fossils by some paleontologists and originated right here in North America as all major branches of the horse family and the modern horse itself also did.  As my published investigations have shown, they disburse the intact seeds of many plant species, which germinate far and wide in the soils made fertile by their feces. Horses and burros do the same as do rhinos. This is on account of their being post-gastric digesters. They feed and fertilize the ecosystem, build the humus component of soils, and to a much greater degree than is the case with ruminant digesters, basically all the other large mammal grazers in North America.

Anne: I’m glad to see you have made headway in gaining the support of the people of Peru against poachers and traffickers of the mountain tapirs. It looks as if you were successful in the pending sanctuary for them, and donations can be made easily right on your website. How long have you been involved in South American ecological studies?

“Mountain Tapir Eating”

Craig: I have been involved in ecological investigations and conservation efforts in South America since 1977 when I served in the Peace Corps in the nation of Colombia as a wildlife ecologist. I began my intensive doctoral study of the Mountain Tapir in 1989 in Sangay National Park, Ecuador. I was the first wildlife ecologist ever to have captured, radio collared, and telemetrically tracked this elusive and rugged survivor of the ages. Yes, as mentioned earlier, a new reserve is being declared in the Piuran Cordillera of Northern Peru and I am anxious to launch this vigorously. I hope that more funds can be gathered to start this off right, with a big publicity campaign and ecological studies, the establishment of monuments delineating the boundaries, with proper enforcement and ecotourism.

Here Reserve Design will prove key to our long-term success, just as it will in the case of the wild horses and burros here in the U.S.  By the way, I have a proposal to flesh out Reserve Design for America’s Wild Horses and Burros, but also need support to do a thorough professional job on this and put it into effect throughout our country.

Anne: If the horrible slaughtering of our horses, burros and mules continues, what is the prognosis of the North American wilderness? What are the long-term and adverse effects if they are systematically exterminated?

“Proud Intelligent Wild & Companion Champions”

Craig: The ongoing slaughter of equids in America is a terrible disgrace for all three nations involved: U.S., Canada, and Mexico. In the case of the wild equids, blind and ignorant people are removing important returned native species. These are animals that restore the ecosystem, build its soils, disperse its seeds for germination and increase the biodiversity of both plants and animals. It is so wrong that they are being lied about and targeted for elimination. I expose this evil in my book The Wild Horse Conspiracy, but go on to tell what must happen to rectify this unacceptable situation.

It is a torture and cruel murder of highly evolved, noble presences that have been roaming our lands from most ancient times. Horses count among the most deeply rooted mammal groups in North America. For government officials to perpetuate this crime in order to appease some of the most obstinate and slobbish ranchers and big game hunters is a grievous sin and carries with it dire consequences. For this reason, I have made my book a very positive one that reveals all that is good and right about restoring the horses and burros to their natural, free-living place and role here in North America and just exactly what can be done to accomplish this life-saving goal.

People have to be willing to change, to accept a new and better way of life. They must be willing to share the land and freedom and to adjust their lifestyle in order to restore the enhanced wild-horse/burro-containing ecosystem that our planet Earth so desperately needs today, e.g. to counter Global Warming and the much too artificial and toxic environment technocrats are creating today.

Anne: Knowing you have been thinking about this for years,what is your belief as to the reasons so many of these wild horses are being displaced? Who do you believe is responsible for their sad removals and ultimate murders, and what do you think should be done about it?

“The Wild Horse Conspiracy”

Craig: The wild horses and burros are being eliminated because they reveal the wrongness of the crusty old lifestyles and attitudes that are based on crass domination. These are ruining life on Earth! Too many people are acting as blind adherents of outmoded traditions. They are loath to accept responsibility to adopt changes in their values and life styles, so as to save life on Earth. They are refusing to learn important lessons from the past and are only digging in their heels.

Much of this we see today in the adulation of the cowboy lifestyle and the mockery of progressive lifestyles that seek to live in harmony with Nature, such as those that involve vegetarianism or naturally harmonious, self-sustaining lifestyles. This must change soon or it will be too late for life on Earth! Livestock emission of methane and other heat-trapping gases are even more deadly to the planet than automobile emissions. It is simply wrong how most people are living today, as they have turned their back on the rest of life, with whom they share this lovely planet Earth.

It seems that they have become intentionally oblivious to all that is most important for the survival and well-being of the whole complex of interrelated life on Earth, upon which they themselves depend for survival – whether they realize this or not. Horses, etc., are basically wild in nature but too many people, out of selfishness, only regard them as slaves of mankind. This is quite wrong and is contrary to life’s great truth and interrelatedness, which all true religion and spirituality honor. Of this crucial subject I treat in my last “Higher Thoughts” chapter.

Again, we must decrease or eliminate livestock grazing and other ecosystem-disrupting activities and let the horses, etc., naturally fill their niche and establish their own internal harmony. We must learn to live with and not against this. This is our challenge concerning wild horses in the wild; and it is imperative that we do not ignore this vital challenge. Meeting it correctly will open up a whole new gateway into a more brilliant and life-renewing tomorrow.

Anne: I do see where you brilliantly wrote your “Proposal for Wild Horse/Burro Reserve Design as a Solution to Present Crisis”, back in June of 2010. Your very practical and logical minded presentation was straightforward in your appeal to the BLM. Craig, I wish I could have dined with you and Brandi and Pennell. The last thought I now contemplate before going to sleep at night, is how can we get the Senate Committee to listen to our please? How can we make the Pro Slaughter Industry agree to change, because short of Bill S.1176’s getting passed and enforced (it seems likely that bill keeps getting shuffled under mounds of papers), we need to make the profiteers want to CHANGE? We must take steps in order to Abolish Horse Slaughter and trafficking them out of our country, halt inhumane Factory Farming and build a respect for all animals. We must demand of the people who do consume their flesh that their demands are no longer going to be met using our horses. These slaughters must stop!

“Craig after giving a talk in Angers, France”

Craig: My advice as to how we can get the Senate Committee to listen and to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, H.R. 2966 & S. 1176, is to continue to expose the evils associated with horse slaughter.

Expose how people, including BLM and USFS officials, are making obscene quantities of money by setting the innocent horses and burros up for this dismal fate.  I discuss this in graphic terms in my book “Higher Thoughts” Chapter 7.  We must not flag but must persist and hone our skills as we learn from past experience and endeavors.  We know we have the greater truth and justice on our side and that we will, thus, prevail over the greater course of time. John Holland presented some excellent facts and figures right after my brief presentation at the Conference.

These should be used as well as the potent results of Animals’ Angels investigations. Most of all we must stop condoning attitudes and values and lifestyles that perpetuate horse abuse, slavery, and slaughter by showing people a better way of life based on higher values and more enlightened attitudes and goals.  This we can do through our own personal example of how to live and what to strive for.  Our personal virtue shall shine through the darkness and attract others to follow suit. Together as a society we can and will transform, while at the same time restoring the all-inclusive life community. This can be done. This MUST be done. All of Life depends upon our doing so. And each one of us has a unique and vital, in fact, an indispensable role to play here. Lastly, I wrote about why horse slaughter is so inherently cruel, and about BLM and USFS’ involvement with this, in my book on pages 98, 114, 220-224.

I wish you could have dined with us too, Anne! Perhaps we’ll meet someday. I am glad of this opportunity to share my views on this important subject. Together we can make a big positive difference for the horses and the lives they lead!  Animals’ Angels keep up your very fine and vitally important work! Merci beaucoup.


Thank you Craig for your time in providing our readers with your vast knowledge on these subjects. Your book is proof of how important these animals are to our ecology, educating us with scientific facts and reasons why our equine should stay on the land where they have roamed for centuries. It is especially thoughtful of you to be so generous in sharing your years of research and I am also looking forward to listening to the recording of your radio interview and getting a copy of your book. I wish I could have dined with you and Brandi and Pennell!

Dinner With Craig C. Downer

Part One

Author of The Wild Horse Conspiracy


“Craig C. Downer at Schell Creek Range Eastern Nevada”

This past September Author Craig C. Downer was in Las Vegas, Nevada to address the attendees at the International Equine Conference. The evening before the event, Brandi and Pennell of Animals’ Angels Inc. had the distinct pleasure of dining with him. A few days before I had asked Brandi to take along some questions to ask him because his work in the fields of ecology and wild horses, in fact, all equids, has been remarkable and a life-long study. Here’s what he had to say.

Anne: The Wild Horse Conspiracy is an intriguing title for your book and I’m looking forward to getting my own autographed copy to read. The back cover write-up reads beautifully and I think anyone with any environmental sense would immediately want to find out what you are talking about. Your viewpoint as an ecologist piques my inquisitive nature because like most people I want our planet to thrive. How long did it take you finally to compile your findings and present them to the public?

Craig: It took me four years to write and perfect The Wild Horse Conspiracy.  The book considers both wild horses and burros and is a well-rounded treatise on these magnificent presences here on Earth: Their evolution and history, ecology, a plan for their restoration called Reserve Design, personal experiences, update and higher thoughts.

Since this is a convoluted subject involving a war of values going on in human society, there are new developments every day. Though my book is an expose of the dishonesty and maliciousness that have subverted the Wild Horses and Burros program and the WFHBA’s true intent, it is above all a positive book that stresses why the horses and burros do belong and what can and shall be done to restore the herds by following the principles of Reserve Design.

“The Wild Horse Conspiracy”

It includes my personal account of experiences with many herds throughout the West and with all the various human actors, both pro- and anti-wild horse and burro. These could lend themselves well to a dramatic film; and this is something I would, indeed, like to do in the near future in order to get the message out on a worldwide scale and effect the kind of positive, dynamic changes that need to occur.

Anne: I see you are also a poet having written Streams of the Soul. I understand the reason your words flow so well. Can you recount your favorite poem here?

Craig: Thank you for your compliments on my poetic side. I also have a musical side, which is very much related to my poetic side, and offer a musical CD called Wild Horse Rhapsody. This contains about ¾ of an hour of my original melodies played by a gifted pianist. I also play the piano and my mother, Alice, was a fine pianist who helped me progress over the years. The CD can be ordered from me and is a collection of 13 medleys, each of which expresses a particular facet of wild horse life and is given a corresponding title. I have also written much poetry over the years, including – as with my music – on that most inspiring of subjects: the wild horses. Here I present one of my poems about the wild horses that are found in my book Streams of the Soul, together with photo illustrations of these wonderful animals. By the way, my photo-illustrated, 341-page book can be ordered either directly from me or by visiting here.  My wild horse book can be ordered at Amazon.  On pages 138-9 of my poetry book (photos also in my wild horse book) appears a picture of “El Espanto”, a Medicine Hat Stallion and his band and my 1995 poem:

“Feel the personality of this horse”

I write a poem

About the wild horse,

‘Cause there’s a lot of feeling here,

Albeit much long-suffering

And abuse by man – most gruesome!

… Yet, too, vast wide-open spaces,

And MANY lives lived out

With Grace and in Joyful Freedom!


‘Tis a saga of the Old West

— And I believe the New —

This story of the wild horse,

This enduring, wind-drinking

Runner of desert and plain,

As – Alas! – of very time!


His story is one with yours and mine.

May he reach far upon this Earth Plane!

For ‘tis a saga of what this Land is yet to be,

Of a Destiny yet unfulfilled,

When Man and Horse in Freedom live,

Once again with mutual Respect.


Anne: I am a true believer in destiny and things happening for a reason. When did your passion begin? Were you a child, a teenager? I read you grew up with your tall chestnut stallion, Poco, sharing many wonderful times together. What primarily increased your awareness of the wild animals and their habitual terrain?

Craig:  I share your belief in destiny and a reason for what happens in life as well as the interrelatedness of all happenings and all lives. Since childhood I had a keen sensitivity to the natural world and fellow living beings. I was born with a sense of reverence for life and my empathy for animals. I could sense their moods and delighted when they were in good spirits, each fulfilling its unique and God-given purpose in life.

“Wild Horses in Nevada”

I loved to be out in the world of free nature and was born with an aversion to slavery and confinement of animals. I felt this was perverse and out of tune on the part of man and causing terrible problems on our shared planet Earth … not to allow each individual being to realize its own true place and role, but to have some warped and selfish confinement or unnatural molding imposed upon this individual or even its entire family or kind. I knew this to be wrong in my heart of hearts. So I was most happy when out in the free and natural life community, be this the forests of the Sierra Nevada or the deserts of the Great Basin. Some who knew me and of my belief that all living creatures should live freely in nature thought I was a reincarnated Native American. I will not hazard a guess, but I do believe in reincarnation and realize that every individual has many lives past and future, and that this is not just for humans but also for all species.

Anne: Can you share a short story of one of your Poco memories please?

Craig: Yes, I grew up with my ‘best friend’ Poco, a tall, rich chestnut horse with a white star on his forehead. We shared many fine adventures together. For example, we did the High Sierra Trail Ride from the Y at South Lake Tahoe over the High Sierra then down to “Hangtown”, the former name for Placerville. This was a very scenic trip and Poco and I actually won a trophy, 10th place, though I let Poco eat some grass while on the trail and even swim in a lake after one particularly hot and grueling day, contrary to the judges’ wishes.

I felt that Poco yearned to be free again out in the wide-open spaces and to be with his own kind. Whenever we met other horses, I would make sure that he had plenty of time to commune with them, be they short Shetlands or giant Drafts, with both he had a strong affinity, as with all fellow horses. This communication was something beautiful to observe. There was something mysterious about it. Once we heard a hair-raising scream while riding through a forested canyon in the mid-elevation Sierra Nevadas. This sounded like a woman being attacked, but was, in fact, a female puma. Boy! Did Poco every give me the ride of my life after this – clearing high mounds over 5’ and twice as broad and running full speed all the way home, about 5 miles. Instinctively he knew the life-threatening danger posed by a mountain lion.

“Photographed by Craig C Downer”

Anne: Did you learn to speak Spanish and French in school or did someone teach you privately? Has knowing three languages helped you reaching out to the world during these times of getting the word out about how the ecology is in danger from the calculated removal of our native horses? Do you go abroad and speak or give lectures? Have you ever been interviewed on radio?

Craig: Yes, I am fluent in Spanish, having become so during my Peace Corps years in Colombia, where I served as a wildlife ecologist and did extensive inventories of the five vertebrate classes of species as well as some botanical and invertebrate inventories. I had to give talks and prepare reports in Spanish. I helped guide the formation of the natural resources department of the Cauca Valley Authority in western Colombia and helped establish national and local parks and nature reserves, doing ecological surveys therein and employing reserve design. It was in the Las Hermosas National Park that I first glimpsed the endangered mountain tapir, as a male-female pair right above the tree line in what is called the “paramo” with picturesque “frailejones”. My fluency in Spanish has served me well in later work to save this endangered species that occurs in about 20 places in the northern Andes. I have translated articles and speeches by colleagues.

It is quite stimulating to be multi-lingual. I also studied French both in high school and at the university and can read and write this well, though I would welcome the opportunity to immerse myself in a French-speaking community for a lengthy period in order to acquire verbal fluency. Yes, being fluent in Spanish and having a sound knowledge of French has allowed me to communicate to audiences near and far about the value of wild horses, the injustice of government officials’ and ranchers’ attacks against these and as concerns their return native status in North America, and many positive contributions to the ecosystem. Yes, I have given talks in foreign countries on the wild horses as well as the mountain tapirs, in English, but often in Spanish as well. In October 2012, I was in Finland and gave a series of talks at schools and universities both on wild horses and mountain tapirs.

I have been interviewed both on TV and on radio, most recently on Coast-to-Coast AM on the subject of my book, The Wild Horse Conspiracy.

Come back Thursday for Part Two …. to be continued …

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!