To the editor:

I can certainly appreciate Mr Hirst's relationships with the people of Supai, and there are certainly many historical wrongs perpetrated on First Nation peoples. ("Havasupai face challenges in care of horses" April 21)

I believe that the assumption that an isolated incident is being overblown is grossly mistaken. A simple Web search of "Havasupai horse abuse" brings up many incidents of documented abuse from tourists. These are not cases of simple neglect from just being underfed and underwatered. There are horses with 6-inch open back wounds being forced to carry packs and eyewitness accounts of punching and kicking pack animals in the face.

In what world is this justifiable? These wounds do not happen in a week or even a month, and the man-inflicted wounds are undeniable. To minimize the chronic and egregious nature of these crimes enables it to continue and demonstrates a lack of empathy for suffering animals. A truly “horse-centered culture” would never allow this type of systemic abuse. And, if the expense of feed is too high, then the prices should be raised rather than animals starved and beaten.

Enabling this treatment of animals sets up the community for suffering beyond economic loss. I’ve personally witnessed the condition of these horses, I've seen the abuse firsthand, and the horses I observed being abused didn’t belong to Joe. To make excuses for this behavior is not only doing a disservice to the community of Supai but also enables the pervasive abuse.

If animals are being treated this way, there are very likely abuses against the weakest of the human community as well. Certainly, the peaceful people of Supai deserve a chance at a peaceful society.

DAVID DECKER

Flagstaff

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