Video of Horse Shooting Sends Message to Animal Activists. {NSFW}

Via on Mar 23, 2013

Sappington

The only way to bring about change is to soften. Even if, especially if, it’s really hard.

This week I came across the below video. It follows Tim Sappington, a former employee of the Valley Meat Company in Roswell, New Mexico, as he shoots and kills a horse.

I found it through one of the animal activists I follow on Facebook. If you choose to watch it, know that it’s graphic and contains profanity.

If you don’t want to watch it, here’s a description of the video from the Albuquerque Journal:

“In a 51-second video posted to YouTube, Sappington leads a brown horse by a rope to a spot in a dirt road next to a trailer. After briefly stroking the horse’s nose and then its neck, he says, “All you animal activists, (expletive) you,” pulls a handgun from its holster, places it against the horse’s forehead and fires a single shot.

The horse appears to leap involuntarily into the air, its legs curling beneath it, and crashes to the ground. Sappington turns to glare briefly at the camera and then walks away, saying, ‘Good.’”

{Warning: NSFW}

 

Valley Meat Company, where Sappington worked, is trying to become one of first horse slaughter plants to re-open in the United States. They plan to slaughter horses for the consumer market.

Sappington claims he killed the horse for his own consumption. But animal activists, who are opposed to the re-opening, claim it was an act of violence meant to intimidate and belittle their cause.

And with Sappington’s words, I tend to agree.

My first reaction to this video was devastation. After seeing it I spent the better part of an evening crying.

My second reaction was disillusionment and a lot of questioning—I don’t understand what happens in the human psyche to make a person do something like this.

My third reaction was to send a massive “Fuck You” to Sappington.

But none of these reactions made me feel any better. Which left me wondering—how can we, as mindful individuals, best respond to things like this?

On Friday morning I read the following Facebook update from the site where I found the video:

“You want to shoot a beautiful, healthy horse in the head at point blank range just to try and hurt animal activists? Well let me tell you this asshole, we have names, we have voices, we have votes, we have power and we are a million strong … Fuck you Tim Sappington.”

It’s true—this activist and his followers do have voices, votes and power. Since the video has been brought to light, animal activists have been all over it. Now law enforcement is involved and it looks like charges will be brought against Sappington.

I’m grateful for this, and for the people willing to make a stink and bring this man to justice.

And yet I was put off by the message. I didn’t like its hateful tone.

I realized then that my hate toward Sappington isn’t the right thing either.

It didn’t make me feel any better. And it won’t change anything.

I’ve followed this activist on Facebook for a while and believe in the work he’s doing. He’s bringing greater awareness to animal welfare issues. And he’s unapologetic about it—he stands up for what he believes in and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t know a lot of the things I know about animal welfare issues.

But I’m not sure we can meet hate with hate.

You’ll never get someone to see your point of view, or look deeply into their own, by first spewing negative energy at them. None of the progress made this week was because of of name calling or sending ill will toward Sappington. It was because of the action many people took in getting the word out and getting the right authorities involved.

When I said my fuck you to Sappington I meant it—deeply and truly from the depths of my broken heart. Then the tears dried and I was left wondering what to do next.

But I’ve known all along what to do next, I just didn’t want deal with it.

I need to empathize with and send compassion to Sappington.

I need to send him love and hope that whatever is broken inside him, whatever caused him to kill that innocent horse in such a hateful way, can be mended.

I haven’t been able to do this yet.

I’m struggling to forgive him, and the countless other humans who do terrible things to our innocents, our voiceless, our defenseless. I’m somewhere in hate/compassion purgatory.

When we are hit with something painful or something we can’t understand, our reaction is often to get angry. We want to fight back and make it feel right again.

But we can’t let our hearts harden. The only way to bring about change is to soften. Even if, especially if, it’s really challenging.

How?

We find our way to compassion by doing things like this, and reading things like this.

In recent years it’s taken a lot of hurt and disappointment for me to see how my anger toward people and events only hurts me—not them.

When we send hate out into the world, it only serves to keep that energy going.

“When we harden our heart against anyone, we hurt ourselves.” ~ Pema Chodron

Lately I’ve been trying to define my boundaries and my place in animal activism. I’m not sure where the line is between speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves and respecting other people’s right to choose their own way.

It’s difficult. How can I be the voice for the voiceless if I don’t say anything? But how can I reach people if I spew hate at them?

I can’t.

And neither can any of us. Whether your cause is climate change, local farming or gun control, no one is going to listen to what you have to say if you first put up a barrier and shout profanities at them.

There is a better way.

What Sappington did was horrific. But wishing the worst upon him and calling him names will not change it for the next horse.

We want people like Sappington to change, to see animals the way we do and to stop being assholes.

But we have to stop being assholes too. It’s all connected—hate is hate, love is love. What we are and how we choose to react is what we send out into the world.

So this time, even though I don’t want to, I will choose differently. I know that in all of us there is something hurting. And the only way to heal that hurt is to live with an open heart and find peace in the present.

I won’t ever be okay with what Sappington did. But I hope someday soon I can find it within me to forgive.

 

 Like elephant animal rights on Facebook.

 

Ed: Kate Bartolotta

About Stephanie Vessely

Stephanie Vessely lives in Denver, Colorado and is somewhere in the middle of a lifelong love affair with words. She feels a little out of place a lot of the time and thinks writing about herself in third person is awkward. She is regularly saved by yoga and is searching for Truth. These are a few places she’s found it: the swaying of tree branches, the ocean, the laughter of her niece and nephew and her own heart, when she can be still enough to hear it. She’s an aspiring vegan who loves travel, hates small talk and hopes to help save the animals. Someday, she’ll learn how to tap dance. In the meantime, she keeps scribbled secret notebooks and knows everything is as it should be, even if she has a hard time remembering it. Follow her on Facebook or visit her website.

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26 Responses to “Video of Horse Shooting Sends Message to Animal Activists. {NSFW}”

  1. micaquan says:

    well written! I hate this man and all like him and I feel rage every time I read and hear of things like this. Yet- I know that in my heart , I only hate the deed. I know hate only makes more hate… It has to be the most difficult thing in the world though- to soften… I love animals- I am vegan and volunteer with many animal activities. I find behaviour like this man exhibits devastating….

  2. LynnBonelli says:

    I can't watch it but I agree with the author of the article regarding hate. We can hate the act but it will not end the suffering. One point I'd like to make is that as far as horse slaughter goes, the problem is not people like Tim Sappington (or others who want to profit off of opening slaughter houses), the problem is that in the United States we have an uncontrollable abundance of unwanted horses. The race horse industry produces thousands of foals each year and the AVMA estimates that between 90,000 and 140,000 horses are sent to slaughter in Mexico and Canada EVERY year. It's an overage that no rescue organization can handle. We can't save them all no matter how hard we try. Filling a need (slaughter) for our over-breeding is the fault of those who to continue to breed and support things like horse racing.

    • Stephanie Vessely svessely says:

      Thanks for bringing up this point Lynn. We do need to look at why there is a need for horse slaughterhouses in the first place. This is also true for companion animals across the country. They too are abundantly unwanted because of practices such as puppy mills, which is why so many shelters needlessly put them down.

    • Elizabeth Dana says:

      "What suffering was Sappington relieving in that horse?"

      • LynnBonelli says:

        I'm not sure if you're asking me that question but I was referring to the suffering many of us feel when any animal is needlessly slaughtered (be it a cow, a pig, a horse, a dolphin)…a general suffering of the world and the plight of over-bred, over-used and discarded animals. I doubt Sappington raised that horse for meat but instead bought it at an auction for pennies on the dollar because someone didn't love, need, want, or couldn't afford to feed him anymore. I was simply pointing out that a big part of the problem with horses being slaughtered is that "we" breed too many of them and discard them like trash.

  3. laura says:

    I’ve heard about the negative comments I haven’t gotten to read them till today I don’t know how you can truly judge someone without meeting them. I would like to share a couple of things about this man. Then you can try to past judgment without meeting him. I first met Tim over 20 years ago, my father horseshoed his horses. They were never what you call close friends but acquiesce. Over 2 years ago my brother took his life. The morning came and Tim was at my father’s home wanting to know if we needed any help or anything he could do. After my brother’s death, my father took it very hard and alcohol took control of his life. My father got to the point of not wanting to go on with life anymore. Tim showed up to the hospital and brought my father to his home, fixed a bedroom up and let him know that there are people that care for him very much. My father still drinks but he hasn’t talked about not going on with life anymore. I lost my brother and the only reason why I haven’t lost my father is because of what Tim done. I turned to drugs and lost everything. Three months ago I found myself homeless and nowhere to go. At 230 in the morning I called Tim and asked him for help. He opened his home to me and fixed the very same bedroom he did for my father for me. The only thing he ever asks of me is to stay clean, be positive and occasionally if I could turn down the radio in my room. I feel very blessed because I couldn’t tell you or even put in words where I would be right now if it wasn’t for him. Last month he was working in the shop on a project he needs to get done. One of the neighbors came down and asked him if he could help load a trailer. He stopped doing what he was working on and spent the rest of the day loading a trailer. If you very find yourself broke down on the side of the road and watch people drive right on by be assure he isn’t one of them. He’s the one that stops to help. I am so ashamed of the people writing these comments. The time you drive by make threats, sit at the computer to make threats. The world would be a better place if you could be more like him and take the time to help a family member, a friend, neighbor, or even a stranger. He is by no means perfect but he’s not the bad guy people have made him out to be, He doesn’t know I’m posting this and is probably going to be upset at me but I thought everybody should know what kind of man you are judging. The people posting positive comments I truly thank you very much and I hope you keep it up because he needs your support more then he knows. Thank you for taking the time to stop and read this post because now you know some things about this man, Tim. Laura Haley

    • Stephanie Vessely svessely says:

      Thanks for your comment Laura. The article wasn't written to pass judgement but to address how we can choose to respond to things we find offensive and reprehensible.

      I agree that we shouldn't judge people before we know them. That's what I was trying to get at – how I'm struggling to not judge and hate Sappington based on this terrible deed. I don't understand why someone would not only do something like this, but record it. It seems he was taunting animal activists. But I'm not going to take the bait – because then no one wins. Instead, I'm holding space for that sweet horse, and trying really really hard to send love to Sappington.

    • Elizabeth Dana says:

      The people who called and made threats are called "Pro Slaughter people". They called and did that to label the good people who do not want horse slaughter to be a business in the US nor a means of using horses as throw away animals. By labeling concerned citizens and taxpayers as animal rightists makes peple think only agressive and dangerous people want to stop horse slaughter. It makes the pr slaughter case seem humane so soft stories are written to explain away violence. Sappington showed he was a danger and no better than people who shoot and kill innocent people in anger and rage. Thanks Laura for trying to put lipstick on a pig. But a criminal is a criminal and violence is violence even people said Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dramer were "nice Neighbors".

  4. Yeeeeah ok says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s Sappington’s very own words that have condemned him in the eyes of the people upset at him. You can’t separate his actions from who he is no matter how much compassion he has shown in other areas of his life. Shame on him. Not for helping you, which is commendable, but for the crass language and indifference with which he took a blameless life. There was no need.

    • Stephanie Vessely svessely says:

      Agreed. There was no need.

    • theleastofyoudotome says:

      Words? I think it is his act…his actions….that will be determined as his condemnation in a court of law.
      Having been "molested" by a family member at a young age and then threatened that if I ever told, he would send my colt that I raised to a glue factory…..this is another case that "The Sap" could have been prevented from doing this to this horse if guns were illegal.
      And this country is never going to clear up our problems until we use Gandhi's passive resistence en masse.

  5. Zero says:

    Thank you so very very much from the bottom of my heart. This is great to read because as an animal rights activist I am constantly bombarded by the disillusion and bitterness people have that comes with witnessing abuse for living earthlings. People seem to take what they used to just bury, and spit it out all over humans. Everyday I suffer with others at stories and sites of violence but its my core foundation that veganism is compassion for ALL living things, even the perpetrators of heinous crimes such as above, so it is not responsible to hate Tim, but to embrace Tim in love, and get to the core of him so that he can find a method out of the indoctrination of our violent society.

    • Stephanie Vessely svessely says:

      Thanks for sharing. It's definitely difficult and emotional to work with, but absolutely necessary to do so.

  6. Heather McCaw says:

    It looks likely that Tim Sappington will face criminal charges, so there will be some justice in this case (justice being different from vengeance). I can appreciate that someone like him has lived a very different life than mine and has come to have a different perspective about consuming animals. What troubles me about this video is the reactionary malice to Sappington's actions. He is definitely responding to some kind of animal rights activist stereotype. Who knows what that means in his mind but I've encountered the perception myself that to be a vegetarian or vegan is to be some kind of wacko. For that reason, I wholeheartedly agree with you that a softened, more open approach to animal activism is needed. If the goal is to truly save lives, I think a little less judgement and purism is the way to go. I believe that there are meat-eaters who have compassion and respect for the animals they eat and they can be compelled to eat less of it if the appeals are well-argued and dispassionate. This will have the greatest impact on our massive meat industry. Likewise, if we can only appeal to certain people according to their love of horses or shelter dogs or wolves, so be it. Let's take those baby steps and do some real good.

    • Stephanie Vessely svessely says:

      Thanks Heather! I agree – everyone has their own life experience and that informs their choices. Though I choose not to eat meat, I don't necessarily think everyone else must abstain. I just think it should be done respectfully and humanely. You brought up a good point – the goal is to save lives. Animal activism is not about who is right or wrong, or good or bad, it's about standing up for the voiceless and our belief that every living thing has a right to a life without suffering.

  7. John says:

    It 's hard to believe that Tim could be that caring but at the same time so cruel as to kill the horse like he did. It is not my place to judge anyone but believe that we will be accountable for all thing one day.

    • Stephanie Vessely svessely says:

      Today my yoga teacher talked about how we are all filled with lightness and darkness at the same time. I thought it was a timely lesson – we can be caring and compassionate and do awful things at the same time. It's all just part of it.

  8. Lalana says:

    I am with John above on this. I can't understand where coming from with that and doesn't make any sense to me. I didn't watch the video but just reading your words has my eyes filled. Very sad.

  9. Coco says:

    I can't thank you enough for writing this – as an animal activist, I am overwhelmed on a daily basis at the way we humans abuse and destroy animals with unspeakable callousness. As a Buddhist, I try to remember the interconnectedness all sentient beings share and have great trouble finding compassion for the people who commit the abuse – I will be saving your posting and printing it out so I can refer to it when I am struggling.

    Agreed – hate cannot change hate and it does not help the voiceless animals to continue the negativity. Thank you again so much.

  10. Theleastofyoudotome says:

    Animal Activist?….Really…..How about simply not murdering?
    This man is depraved and it is not my job to forgive him. His actions are his karma and laws were created to drive the point home to people that aren't bright enough to overcome their most heinous, reactionary and despicable ACTIONS. That is just the way the system works. Because for people like "Mr Sap" it's all about a system, isn't it?
    Maybe incarceration and sentencing to watching violent, horrible videos, nonstop, will help him reach a level to hate that he seeks to satiate himself with.

  11. Clare says:

    Thank you Stephanie, good article. Just as violence begets violence, non-violence begets non-violence, Hate begets hate, love begets love. I will tell you that, just as there would be no "respectful and humane" way to take a human life, yours, mine, our friends, our neighbors, there is no humane way to take the life of another being, for anything other that euthanasia on the request of the being. Animals do not give us their lives. There lives are always taken by brute force. Remember, that even "humane meat" has come from an artificially inseminated animal who was kept in captivity, had her offspring stolen from her, and will die, at a fraction of her lifespan, held down, in view of fellow beings, at the hands of humans. How in the world could that be "humane or repectful"? con't

  12. Clare says:

    Only when you begin to apply "other" thinking, can you feel as though you have the right to own, and to kill "other" beings than yourself. What this man did is no different, and in fact in someways better than, any of the actions carried out by "Humane and Respectful" animal slaughterers. I appreciate the work you are doing, but hope that you will not further the cause of those who want to kill innocent animals and somehow feel "humane and repectful" while doing it.

  13. elizabeth Dana says:

    This man has no remorse and no reason or excuse to threaten peaceful people by killing a horse and blaming the death on them for trying to stop animal cruelty. He tried to cover it up by saying he killed the horse to eat it. Those who have posted here to soften this act of violence are known as pro slaughter people who want topick up free or cheap horses and sell them to kill buyers. Since the drought and cost of gas the kill buyers do not want to drive the trucks to Mexico and the people who can not afford hay are selling their horses to what they think are horse ranchers for retraining fr saddle horses. This is an out and out act of violence used to threaten anyone who is against killing horses for meat to ship to asia.

  14. Elizabeth Dana says:

    This man Tim Sappington maliciously with intent killed an animal. Read up on Valley Meats formerly known as Pecos Valley Meats in Roswell New Mexico who was closed down from beef slaughter in April 2012 for violations of piles of rotting dead cow bodies fifteen feet high in the desert. USDA also charged them with animal abuse. This Sappington was irate that people in New Mexico do not want this slaughter plant reopening to kill horses. If that is not enough to make you sick look up SouthWest Auctin and Dennis Chavez where Animal Angels filmed four horses dying in the auction pens who were left to die with broken legs. for the full effects of Oklahoma making Horse Slaughter legal again and New Mexico trying with this Sappinton…go to http://www.kaufmanzoning.net

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