They Kill Horses, Don`t They? (Mexicans, That Is.)
March 26, 2004, 04:00 AM
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Here in northern California, American animal lovers are watching the final stages of the case of two Mexican illegal aliens who got drunk and killed a horse for fun. Liobijildo Guzman Herrera and Noel Guido-Silva, both farmworkers, ended a night of drinking last April 26 by driving their vehicles around a field near Kenwood, chasing a terrified 23-year-old mare, running her down and causing her a painful death. Gentle Song, a retired race horse with three victories in 27 starts, belonged to a 13-year-old girl.

Mexico has no laws against animal cruelty and is known for its blood sports like bullfighting and cockfights. So we have to understand the Mexicans` reprehensible behavior in a cultural context. Diversity, as we all know, is our strength.

Americans are generally unaware of national and cultural differences, until they become too extreme to overlook. One American value that many cultures do not share: a strong rejection of cruelty to animals, along with our fondness for pets.

Even Americans who don`t normally keep little furry creatures around couldn`t imagine causing gratuitous pain to an animal for some sicko enjoyment. That`s why we have laws against cockfighting, bullfighting and general animal cruelty. Of course, we have our own home-grown cases where animals are cruelly abused. But average Americans severely disapprove of such acts.

Around the globe, however, attitudes toward animals are very different. For example, most Muslims regard dogs as unclean. Iranian dog owners have been fined or had their pets confiscated by religious police when Fido was being walked. Dog ownership is regarded as a Western corruption—witness Iranian cleric Hojatolislam Hassani`s demand that pets and their owners to be removed: "I demand the judiciary arrest all dogs with long, medium or short legs together with their long-legged owners, otherwise I will arrest them myself."

(Short-legged dogs had earlier borne Hassani`s wrath as being particularly objectionable to Islamic sensibilities.)

In Korea and other parts of Asia, however, people do like dogs very much—barbecued, stir-fried or in soup.

Some Asians regard dogs as becoming more flavorful when they have been tortured in the slaughtering process.

Apparently, it releases adrenaline into the dog`s system.

In Mexico, bullfighting remains a sports obsession and showplace for Mexican machismo. But it`s a fixed fight, where the bull always loses.

Horses don`t fare well in bullfights either. They may be gored as they tote around the spear-carrying picadors. And of Mexico`s stock of horses, about 10 percent are slaughtered for food.

After there were no immediate arrests in the killing of Gentle Song, the Sonoma County Humane Society offered $10,000 in reward money to catch the perpetrators. Outraged animal lovers chipped in and the amount rose to over $20,000. In mid-June, an anonymous tipster told police where to find the killers. The arrest brought some closure to the young owner, who placed flowers on the pasture gate at the news.

The original plea last July was no contest. Apparently the Mexicans illegals thought they would receive a hand-slap sentence in the county jail for a measly dead horse.

But Judge Robert Boyd indicated that he would sentence them to the maximum three years in state prison, reflecting the "vicious manner in which the crime was carried out," in the words of a Deputy DA. The two then withdrew their plea and opted for a jury trial.

The Sonoma District Attorney`s office must be commended for the diligence with which they approached the prosecution. At the preliminary hearing, Deputy DA James Patrick Casey put on a four-hour presentation of evidence to show how seriously the prosecutor took the case. Furthermore, he sought a felony verdict, not a misdemeanor.

During the two-week trial of Guido-Silva before Judge Lawrence Antolini, police investigators described the pasture, which showed tire tracks and hoof prints leading up to the battered body of the dead horse, and jurors made a field trip to the crime scene. Jim Michelson, the father of Gentle Song`s young owner, testified that the mare`s disposition "matched her name. She was part of the family."

Sheriff`s Deputy Bill Focha testified that one of the vehicles ran over the injured horse as the drivers fled the scene. He knew that because there was a tire imprint running over Gentle Song`s head.

Prosecutor Casey stated the wanton killing was a game to the killers. "It was another Friday night and they were liquored up," he said. "It was blood sport on their part."

On March 23, Guido-Silva was convicted of felony animal cruelty, felony vandalism, misdemeanor trespassing and misdemeanor hit-and-run driving. He was found not guilty of felony conspiracy and intentionally killing a horse. He is still looking at a couple of years in prison, to be followed by blessed repatriation to his true home, as the law requires.

His sentencing is scheduled for April 22.

Herrera had agreed earlier to a plea bargain, and pleaded guilty to everything except conspiracy. He will hear his sentence on Monday, March 29.

Hopefully there will be maximum prison terms meted out to send the message south that Americans don`t like our horses killed for the sick fun of illegal aliens.

The next time someone tells you that Mexican culture has enriched America, ask whether that includes gratuitous cruelty to animals and horsemeat tacos.

Once again, when open borders and multiculturalism win, American values lose.

And a young rider has lost her beloved horse.

Brenda Walker [email her] lives in Northern California and publishes LimitsToGrowth and ImmigrationsHumanCost.