Sandoval Signpost
An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988
Dave Harper

If you lose or find an animal in Placitas (and the surrounding area) please call the ANIMAL HOTLINE! 867-6135. The Hotline is a nonprofit service to help reunite lost & found pets. Placing a Lost or Found in the Animal Hotline is a FREE Service. (You can sometimes even include a photo!) Call Dave & January at 867-6135. You can also email the Animal Hotline at, but call, also.



DOG: Black Lab/Border Collie mix who lives in Placitas was lost in Albuquerque (Wyoming and Osuna area) on September 7. We know it is a long shot, but she may have headed back this way from the city. Sophie has white paws and was wearing a pink, vinyl collar with ID tags when she was lost. She is wary of people. #3661

Lost cat 

CAT: Grey/brown Tabby (short-haired cat) lost from Placitas Homesteads back in July of 2010. Yes, we know it is a long shot, but we have to try. Paolo is a neutered male grey brown tabby with black stripes lost from not too far from the Merc. He is between 4 and 5 years old and is microchipped. Reward! All information is appreciated. His owner has moved to Santa Fe: Cell (505) 217-5266. #3670. (See photo above.)


Found cat

CAT: Big, grey-and-white cat found in Placitas Homesteads in mid-September. Looks good, very friendly. #3667. (See photo above.)

Found dog

DOG: Young white-and-brown dog found September 20 at Highway 165 and I-25. Possibly heeler/sheperd mix, about 8 months old. He is well behaved and loves people. #3668. (See photo above.)


DOG: Little, black puppy found dead on Highway 165 just about a half mile west of the Village of Placitas on Highway 165 on September 4. Looked to be 8-9 weeks old. Near Camino de los Desmontes, between the 5 and 6 mile markers. #3659

DOG: Elderly, blonde sheepish looking dog spotted on Highway 165 near the Village of Placitas on September 15. Scraggly dog with no collar. #3665


Animal News

Lalo's Pet Prints

Lalo’s Pet Prints

Email your pet photos to “Lalo” at:
Or mail prints to: Signpost, P. O. Box 889, Placitas, NM 87043.
He’ll post a photo or two each month in the Signpost.

“Whooo’s that in the hen house?” by Mark Belknap

“Sophie on the shelf,” by Gary Priester

Foals graze in the evening in Placitas

Wild horses get help from WHOA

—Ty Belknap

One morning in August, the Signpost got an anonymous call from a man who said that a horse had been hit by a car and decapitated at mile marker eight on Highway 165, just east of the village of Placitas. By the time I got there the horse had already been removed—minus the head—apparently by the Department of Transportation. Patience O’Dowd, President of Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA) was sitting in her car next to the pool of blood. We talked about the accident, WHOA’s lawsuit with the Bureau of Land Management to prevent a horse roundup, and the status of several herds of wild horses in the Placitas area.

She offered nothing quotable though because WHOA doesn’t talk to the press. They blame the Albuquerque Journal for several negative articles that may have contributed to the state’s decision not to buy property for a wild horse refuge last year. WHOA does a great job as an advocate and protector of the horses in a community that is overwhelmingly fond of horses running free and all the Old West romance that they represent. 

Just after Signpost press time in August, a resident of the Cedar Creek Subdivision, off Camino de las Huertas, north of the Village, emailed the Signpost alleging that at 1:00 a.m. WHOA was planning to drive a herd of horses from up the road to a woman’s corral in Cedar Creek. For the past year, the neighborhood had been home to a herd of free-range horses that had “gotten loose” from the corral of the Cedar Creek resident.

These were the same horses, and their progeny, that were acquired through the state livestock board “for their own good” during the drought of 2002. The herd, which residents say numbered seven before the birth of three foals (one died) and the addition of two mares from somewhere else, was generally well-accepted, fed, and watered by the neighbors, many of whom looked forward to their nearly daily visits. Almost no one I have talked to has complained about the horses being a nuisance or a threat to property. During this year’s drought, the herd from Cedar Creek shared the area with wild horses and they all became increasingly tame. WHOA posted signs in the area, advising people not to feed or pet the horses and warning drivers of the wild horse corridor.

The herd of escaped horses reportedly moved up Camino de Las Huertas to the village in August. The decapitated horse was probably not part of this herd, but another herd from east of the village.  Rumors about satanic rituals were circulating about the missing head. A more plausible rumor indicates that the guy who hit the horse was too impaired to call the police, and that a dog dragged the head under a nearby mobile home.

Anyway, the midnight horse drive never materialized, and WHOA confined the herd that had been in the roads to a temporary corral off of Camino de Las Huertas. The Cedar Creek resident emailed the Signpost again to say that she had tried to release the horses, but had been told by the sheriff to stay away from this corral. A short time later, WHOA moved the herd to a safe haven at Monero Mustangs Sanctuary. WHOA announced that this solution was accomplished with the cooperation of the herd’s owner, the sheriff’s office, and the state livestock board. The horses, dubbed the “Placitas Eight” were deemed livestock by WHOA because they were owned. WHOA also bulk-mailed a newsletter to Placitas detailing the whole episode and advising Placitans that the horses at Monero Mustangs Sanctuary ( can be sponsored for $250 per year.

Wikapedia defines “livestock” as one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The rescued horses are no longer in the roads and will produce no commodities. Almost everybody is happy about the way things worked out, and there are plenty of horses left.

Meanwhile, Rosalea Rayburn of the Albuquerque Journal published a story entitled “Horses on the Loose” about the problem of the horses in the road and complaints to the sheriff, not knowing that WHOA had already resolved the problem. The article also suggested that the Placitas environment might be damaged by an overpopulation of horses. On its website, WHOA posted a response entitled “Horses on the Loose—The Real Story,” which criticized the article for using old information and urged supporters to cancel their subscription to the Journal and to ask the sheriff to press charges against the woman who opened the gate.

The WHOA posting said that “two individuals with a development interest in a Loop Rd (I-40 bypass connecting I-25 to RT 14 through Placitas) harassed WHOA volunteers repeatedly, crossed the ‘No Trespassing’ signs, and one released these captured horses back out onto Camino de Las Huertas. The perpetrator would have you believe that she just wanted these owned horses to be free. However, the two individuals were working toward causing an accident on Camino de Las Huertas that would be blamed on the Wild Horses of Placitas. Development interests and the Albuquerque Journal appear to be working overtime to cause a round up before WHOA can win in court.”

WHOA doesn’t buy the BLM’s claim that they don’t plan a roundup or Sandoval County’s claim that they don’t plan a loop road, however, the loop road may not be just a wild conspiracy theory. Gravel mines north of the BLM land are already approaching Camino de la Rosa Castilla. After the trucks have hauled away the foothills, it is not hard to imagine a road to the backside of Placitas with all the commercial development that would go with it. It would not be impossible to continue the road through Ideal Acres and Diamond Tail Ranch to Highway 14 and the eastern part of Sandoval County. The road could also provide a major transportation corridor between I-25 and I-40. The County has expressed an interest in the land to the BLM which is scheduled to release its new area management plan in 2012. It may be that the only thing stopping the road is public opposition, wild horse advocacy, and a lack of funding.

During the week that followed, the Cedar Creek corral leaked more horses. For a few days, the neighborhood had wild Clydesdales, but they are now back in the corral. Several Cedar Creek residents insist that all the horses that have escaped from the corral are still in the neighborhood. O’Dowd responded to my emailed query as to whether they got the right herd only by saying that anyone else with questions should contact WHOA. It doesn’t really matter which herd it was because the round up and relocation of the herd on the road, has solved the problem.

Las Placitas board member Joan Fennicle says, “We don’t have a horse problem—we have a people problem.” Fennicle lives in the canyon near the end of the pavement on Highway 165. She has been talking to authorities about decreasing the speed limit east of the village and putting up some signage to warn drivers of the wildlife corridor. She said that it is not just horses and drivers that are endangered, but bears, mountain lions, and other animals that often cross the road as well. Sharing the environment with wildlife helps keep the area rural—the way most people around here want it.

ASPCA applauds federal rule to prevent cruel double-decker horse transport

—Bret Hopman

USDA has closed a loophole, preventing use of unsafe trailers to transport American horses to slaughter in Canada, Mexico.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) welcomes the new federal rule published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to complete the ban on the use of double-decker trailers to transport American horses to slaughter. Previously, the 2006 regulation only prevented the transport of horses in double-decker trailers if they were en route directly to slaughter plants, while the new rule extends protections to horses that are first delivered to a feedlot or stockyard during their lengthy trip to foreign slaughtering plants in Canada or Mexico.

“American horses are not raised for food, but some are purchased for slaughter by buyers for foreign slaughterhouses and trucked under painful and dangerous conditions,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “This new regulation is a good step in helping to protect those horses en route, but sadly, they will meet the same terrible end, so we will continue to champion a complete ban on horse slaughter.”

Despite the fact that Americans do not consume horsemeat, and there is no demand for horse meat in this country, approximately 100,000 horses are purchased each year in the U.S. at local auctions by buyers on contract with foreign companies and then transported long distances–often more than 24 hours at a time–in cramped conditions without food, water, or rest to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. Designed for cattle and other livestock, these vehicles do not provide adequate space for horses to retain their balance, leading to unstable footing, falls, injuries, trampling and death. The actual process of horse slaughter is also inhumane. The methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as they often endure repeated stuns or blows and sometimes remain conscious during their slaughter and dismemberment.

Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have introduced the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 1176) to end the live export and cruel slaughter of our nation’s horses for human consumption in neighboring countries.

The ASPCA has an extensive history of equine protection around the country and continues to assist domestic and wild horses through legislation, advocacy, targeted grants, and enforcement of the carriage horse and cruelty laws in New York City.

For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, visit




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