Investigators arrived at the sale at 12:40pm. It was a very hot day, with temperatures as high as 94 degrees. Despite a few fans within the auction barn, ventilation was poor, the heat and odor oppressive. There was no water or hay in any of the pens. Investigators observed approx. 100 cattle, 30 pigs, 20 goats and 15 horses. Several of the “spent” cows were in severely emaciated condition, with their hip bones and spine clearly visible. The barn was still in the same dilapidated condition that it was in during our last visit.
Prior to the start of the livestock auction, small animals and eggs were sold in the auction ring. Piles of cardboard boxes with rabbits, chicken and baby ducks were stacked next to a small table. Auction workers reached in the boxes, pulled out the animal and put it on the table. Rabbits and chicken sold between $3.00 and $10.00.
The horses, mostly smaller horses and ponies, were all in good condition. Among them were several pregnant looking mares, with foals on their side. A local trader told the investigators that the mares came from a backyard breeder in Mannington, WV, who always maintained a herd of 30 mares. He added that he had sold a stallion to this breeder earlier this year and that the stallion was kept in the same pasture with the mares at all times. The horses sold for next to nothing to local traders. One of the stallions sold for $15.00, most of the mares sold in the $60.00 range. The top price was $250.00.