Boy to lobby against horse slaughter in D.C.
STRATHAM — Children and adults visited the N.H. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Sunday to voice their support for a Greenland boy who will soon be visiting Capitol Hill to tell lawmakers to end inhumane treatment of horses.
The SPCA on Portsmouth Avenue hosted a letter-writing party to help 9-year-old Declan Gregg of Greenland obtain pleas opposing horse slaughter to bring to Congress later this month. Gregg said his goal was to collect 115 letters before leaving for Washington, D.C., on March 26, and he has already surpassed that number.
On Sunday, he said he was pleased to see many boys and girls join him in speaking up against horse slaughter, which he learned about from his mother, Stacie Gregg, when she was researching the issue.
"They think (horses are) special. They really like them and they don't want them to be killed," Declan Gregg said.
Advocates for humane treatment of horses say that many horses each year are bought at auction or otherwise obtained and shipped off to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered. Their meat is sold to consumers in countries including Japan and France.
Eleven-year-old Emily Lavoie of Eliot, Maine, was one girl who attended the letter-writing party Sunday. "They're just really beautiful," she said of horses, adding she wrote a letter in the hope of being able to save the animals.
Her grandmother, Eleanor Pearsall, also attended the event and gave Gregg a picture of her horse. "I think it's a wonderful thing that you're doing," she told him.
Stacie Gregg said the response to her son's efforts continues to amaze her. She said his blog, children4horses.blogspot.com, has now been visited by people in more than 50 countries.
She said the most common responses thank Declan or laud his bravery.
When he travels to Washington, he will meet with Congressman Frank Guinta, R-N.H., who will take him to the House floor to see a vote of Congress, Stacie Gregg said. She and her son will then spend the next two days lobbying.
Scott Gregg, Declan's father, said his son's interest in humane treatment of animals has been a "display of passion and compassion." He said he is proud of his son, who is "very interested in making a difference."
Paula Parisi, N.H. SPCA's manager of humane education programs, said she has seen many compassionate children over the years, but none have gone as far as Declan to protect animals. She nominated him for a 2012 Kohl's Cares award — the department store's program honors children who have done great acts of community service.
"He can make a huge difference for horses, and he's reached so many people," she said.
Portsmouth resident Denise Brown attended the event to sell copies of her book, "Wind, Wild Horse Rescue," a story about the rescue of a wild horse. She donated a portion of the proceeds to the SPCA.
"(Declan is) incredible," Brown said. "The future of wild horses is in the children's hands today."