Washington, D.C. -- It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of horseman and humanitarian John Hettinger, the nation's leading advocate for the humane treatment of horses. John was the first person to join the Animal Welfare Institute's national campaign to end horse slaughter in 2001. Since that time he never wavered in his commitment and only grew stronger in his desire and determination to end horse slaughter.
"I can honestly say no other person was more dedicated to horse welfare than John," said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for AWI. "We would talk almost every day about how we could pass the ban on horse slaughter and how we could improve the lives of horses. John's death is a tremendous loss."
Owner of Akindale Farm in New York, John was a leading Thoroughbred industry figure who never shrunk from his stand on animal welfare. He always stated that "his best friends have four legs." Over the last few years he created a sanctuary for horses in need on his beautiful 800 acre farm. The stalls were always filled with enrichment items and music was pumped through the barn. The horses were always his priority.
"I was very lucky to have known him as a supporter of AWI's efforts and as a friend. He was unique," noted Heyde. "He is to be congratulated for awakening the industry to the abuse of horse slaughter. We look forward to working with the Thoroughbred industry to fulfill his dream."
The Animal Welfare Institute sends its deepest condolences to his lovely wife Betty and loving family who always shared John's deep respect for animals and nature.
"With John's passing, AWI calls on everyone redouble their efforts for enactment of federal legislation banning horse slaughter. While it didn't happen in his lifetime, John was certain it would happen. Now it is up to us to do just that." said Heyde.
"Where Would All The Horses Go?" by John Hettinger, published by THE BLOOD-HORSE June 28, 2003, pp. 3492-3492.
"Necessary Evil or Blind Eye? - Putting an End to the Cruel Practice of Horse Slaughter" published in the AWI Quarterly (Winter 2002).
The Animal Welfare Institute, founded in 1951, is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. To find our more, visit www.awionline.org.
Photo by Anne M. Eberhardt