AA investigators visited the Small Animal Sale at the Middleburg Livestock Auction held Tuesday 7/12/16. The auction was well attended and a flea market was held in the adjacent parking lot.
When investigators arrived at 11:10 a.m., the day was sunny and hot at 82F. Despite these hot temperatures, none of the installed fans were running and several of the animals showed obvious signs of heat stress. The birds and small animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, were in wire cages.
Most of the cages did not have water or food available and none of the cages had a solid floor. Instead, the birds and small animals were forced to stand on wire floors. Several birds and rabbits were observed standing on the wire mesh and the wire could be seen poking between their toes and pads.
Many of the cages were damaged and the sharp broken wire created a serious risk of injury for the animals kept inside.
Investigators noted that cages were stacked on top of each other and many of the cages were overcrowded with birds. Since they did not have solid floors the birds in the upper cages were defecating directly on the birds below them.
Some of the Amish/Mennonite workers and attendees were observed handling rabbits very roughly by grabbing them from the cages by their ears and then turning them on their back to check their gender.
Investigators watched a box truck with an advertisement for a local printing company pull up next to the bird sale. To the investigator’s surprise, the driver opened the back door of the truck and started loading cages with birds into the enclosed trailer.
One can only image how hot it was inside this confinement, as the only openings were two tiny, handmade holes that had been cut into the back end of each side of the trailer.
Inside the livestock auction area, investigators noted that no fans were running inside the barn despite the heat. Nor was there any water observed in any of the pens. While there were no animals in distress observed, there were several thin dairy cows.
Investigators observed a vet and an assistant on the loading dock as animals were unloaded. Parked beside the loading dock was a van from the Veterinary Science School of Lincoln Memorial University.
AA will continue to monitor this sale as well as push for better conditions such as running fans, access to water, improved handling, and solid floor cages for the small animals.