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Horse sense



Debra Lopez has always had a special love for horses.

"When Barbaro (the 2006 winner of the Kentucky Derby) was injured in the Preakness, it was an emotional time for me," she says. "Like a lot of other people, I was hoping for his recovery. But when he died, it inspired me to take action."

For Lopez, that action was founding Animal Fairy Charities, a locally based nonprofit organization with an international mission to foster prevention of cruelty to all animals.

Earlier this year, actress and Racine native Kristin Bauer ­— one of the stars of the HBO series "True Blood" — helped draw national attention to Animal Fairy Charities. "We were thrilled when she named us as one of the beneficiaries of funds when she hosted the Grand Slam Charity Jam," Lopez says.

While they campaign for the safety and welfare of all companion animals, the first mission of Animal Fairy Charities is saving America’s horses, with a bill currently in Congress. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act would end the slaughter of American horses, and stop the horses from being exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter and shipment overseas — where the meat is used as human food.

"Many people don’t even know that this goes on," says Lopez.

To support the efforts of Lopez and co-founder Lori Charney, the organization sells commemorative ornaments of the "animal fairy," designed by artist John Reichert.

"They are the perfect gift for animal lovers and people buy them to memorialize a favorite pet or loved one," Lopez says.

To further the cause of ending horse slaughter, Lopez is the associate producer of the documentary film "Saving America’s Horses," which won Best in Show at a Los Angeles film festival recently. "Our goal is to continue to show it and to get it distributed to theaters nationwide," Lopez says. She is also a driving force behind Animal Advocate TV, which airs Saturday mornings on WMLW.

"It’s so important to educate people, especially children, about how to treat animals," she says. "You can never begin too early to teach compassion."

Don't be cruel
7 hard facts about animal cruelty

1. In many circuses, wild and exotic animals are trained through the use of intimidation and physical abuse. Former circus employees have reported seeing animals beaten, whipped, poked with sharp objects and even burned to force them to learn their routines.

2. Elephants who perform in circuses are often kept in chains for as long as 23 hours a day from the time they are babies.

3. More than 25 million vertebrate animals are used in testing in the United States each year. When invertebrate animals are thrown into the mix, the estimated number rises to as high as 100 million.

4. It is estimated that on average it takes 1,000 dogs to maintain a midsized racetrack operation. New greyhounds are continually entering the system to replace greyhounds that grade-off due to injury, age or poor performance. There are currently more than 30 tracks operating in the United States.

5. Tens of thousands of wild and domesticated horses from the U.S. are slaughtered every year to be used for horse meat in Europe and Asia. Since the last horse slaughter plants in the U.S. were closed in 2007, thousands of horses have been shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.

6. Many studies have found a link between cruelty to animals and other forms of interpersonal violence.

7. Eighteen red foxes are killed to make one fox-fur coat; 55 minks to make a mink coat.


How to Help

Raise funds for Animal Fairy Charities by purchasing the Animal Fairy ornament that represents the guardian of all animals. Go to for more information.