Decline of Horse Slaughter Industry Noticeable at Auctions & Feedlots across the US

Thursday, November 17, 2022 - 09:41
Investigation Category: 

We’re Celebrating Amazing News and Unprecedented Progress as We Get Ready to “Light the Sky”

For the last 14 years, Animals’ Angels has celebrated and paid touching tribute to the animals and loved ones we’ve lost during the year at our annual Light the Sky event.

This year, Light the Sky will be especially emotional for our team as we celebrate the permanent closure of the Bar S Feedlot, one of the slaughter industry’s worst sites of abuse and suffering. Many of the candles lit in past years at Light the Sky have been dedicated to the innocent lives lost at the feedlot (which was operated by Bouvry Exports), and it is a joyous relief for our entire team to know that all the terrible suffering we’ve witnessed there has finally come to an end.

While this month’s newsletter highlights unprecedented progress made in our work on behalf of the animals, it also serves as a sobering reminder that our work is far from over, and that we will need perseverance and commitment going forward to achieve our ultimate goal of ending slaughter and abuse for good.

Lowdown on the Bar S Feedlot Shutdown

When Animals’ Angels investigators arrived at the Bar S Feedlot in Shelby, Montana at sunrise on September 26th, they were stunned by what they saw. For the first time in the 14 years Animals’ Angels had been conducting investigations of the Bouvry Exports-owned facility, they saw that the feedlot was empty of suffering horses.

A quick inspection found the gates locked and the hay cleared away. It appeared as if the site of so much misery and pain had simply been abandoned.

After bearing witness to so many dead, dying, injured, or sick horses in the feedlot over the years, our team was filled with the tentative hope that the shutdown was permanent, and that the place they had long thought of as “hell on earth for horses” had closed for good.

Our hope soon turned to joy when we received a copy of a letter Bouvry Exports had sent to the State of Montana. In the letter (which Animals’ Angels obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request) Bouvry confirmed that they had officially closed the Bar S Feedlot.

Our Investigations Won’t End Until Slaughter Ends

We’re confident that the continuous investigations we’ve conducted, the reports we’ve produced and the complaints we have filed over the years have played a key role in the slaughter industry’s ongoing decline and the recent demise of the Bar S Feedlot, but our work isn’t done.

We are working harder than ever to expose abusers through unrelenting investigations of kill buyers and auctions, including:

Kalona Horse Sale

Animals’ Angels investigators made a recent visit to the monthly Kalona Horse Sale in Iowa (one of the largest providers of slaughter horses in the US) and found no improvement in the appalling conditions observed during our last visit.

Once again, the poor animals in the crowded loose horse pens were constantly kicking and biting, resulting in multiple, bloody injuries. Other horses had visible debilitating injuries, including a thin mare with a heavily swollen knee and overgrown hooves who was left without shelter or water, and a draft horse with a horribly infected, untreated eye injury.

The callous staff continued to use a hydraulic gate to segregate slaughter horses, a cruel practice that resulted in animals being hit in the head or crushed by the gate. And as usual, kill buyer Boots Stanley bought most of the horses who seemed likely to be headed for slaughter based on their poor condition.

Upon leaving, our investigators were quick to file complaints with the relevant authorities regarding the many violations they had witnessed firsthand.

New Holland Auction

Animals’ Angels investigators recently arrived at the weekly New Holland Sales Stables in Pennsylvania to find the barn half-empty (even though the sale is considered to be the largest animal auction on the East Coast), and they couldn’t help thinking that the dwindling crowd might be a sign that the horse auction is on the decline.

While there, the team observed many Standardbred horses and several Thoroughbred horses who were very thin. Several of the animals had fresh cuts on their legs, old injuries that hadn’t healed properly, or untreated eye infections.

The condition of the horses didn’t stop notorious kill buyers Bruce Rotz and Jesse Austin from bidding, along with horse traders Brian Moore and Marlon Garcia. Former kill buyer Arlow Kiehl, who is now almost 90 years old, was also seen at the sale trying to offload several horses.

Knoxville Auction

In October, Animals’ Angels investigators returned to the monthly horse sale in Knoxville, Tennessee, drawn back by the large number of slaughter horses normally offered at the sale, as well as the auction’s disgraceful history of accepting horses in deplorable condition.

However, when our team entered the auction, we were shocked to see that almost two-thirds of the pen area was either empty or occupied with cattle, and that there were only about 80 horses in an area that had previously contained 350-500 slaughter horses.

And - instead of finding a crowd of kill buyers waiting to bid for the horses, we noted that there was just one local buyer at the sale.

Our team left with the impression that the once thriving horse auction might be withering away, along with much of the slaughter industry.

Join Us in Celebrating our Progress on Behalf of the Animals

We hope you’ll join in the Light the Sky celebrations, and that you share our excitement about the closure of the Bar S Feedlot. Although there is still much work to be done, we rejoice in the many clear signs that the slaughter industry is on the decline.

With your support, we believe we can stop the suffering and abuse of the animals we love, and together, we can end horse slaughter once and for all.