Investigators arrived at the auction at 8:30am. Upon arrival, there was very little activity. By 10:15am, the auction was busy with unloading and spectators. There were a large number of goats and sheep, 5 calves, 8 horses, 6 miniature horses and approximately 50 – 100 dairy cows. None of the pens contained food or water even though the temperatures climbed to 95F. Many pens such as one of the sheep pens and one of the goat pens were extremely crowded. In the sheep pen it was difficult for the sheep to move. In general, the employees used moving paddles to move the animals. An electric prod was used to move some of the larger bulls and steers. An electric prod was also used to move the larger pigs during loading. Drivers loading their double deck trailers also used an electric prod on the dairy cows. Two employees pulled goats by their horns and tails.
As investigators inspected the dairy cows they immediately found a Holstein cow (#873) that was lame on her left hind leg. She could put no weight on that leg and even walked on just three legs. At 11:30am she laid down in the pen. At 12:06 pm, an auction worker entered the pen and attempted to get her to rise by pulling on her tail and kicking her in her side. She tried to rise, but slipped and fell back down. At 12:07 pm, the worker again attempted to get her to rise by lifting her side while another worker hit her with a moving paddle. Again she tried to rise but was unable to. At 12:12 pm the bobcat arrived at the pen with a sling. The use of a sling is a significant improvement compared to earlier observations and a direct result of our work at the auction.
The driver of the bobcat, who appeared to be a supervisor, got out and went into the pen and checked on the cow. He lifted her tail and when she tried to get up, he supported her rump and she rose to her feet. She then walked out of the pen and down the alley to the ring, still walking on only three legs. She was then sold to one of the meat buyers and placed in a pen with other cows awaiting loading. At 1:39 pm, cow #873 was loaded onto the upper level of a double deck truck and the truck left.
While several improvements were noted during this visit, a lot of the handling was still not satisfactory. Additionally, the cow should never have been sold and then loaded into a double deck truck. Most likely this poor animal went down in the trailer during transport causing even more unnecessary suffering for her. Auction management should have refused to accept this cow or euthanize her once they were aware of her condition. AA is currently working to reach an agreement with authorities and industry groups to prevent these cows from being transported.