Innisfail Horse Auction, Alberta 10/19/13

Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 11:15
Investigation Category: 

The Innisfail horse auction is known to be frequented by kill buyers for many years. It is located fairly close to the collecting stations of several large buyers and only hours away from the Bouvry plant, which makes it a convenient location. The investigators arrived at the auction at 11:10 am. Most people had already delivered their horses. Prior to the sale, the horses were kept in a large outdoor pen area. Additional pens were in a small, dark barn next to the auction ring. There was no water or food available in any of the pens. 

There were approx. 80 -90 horses at the sale and the majority of them were loose horses. There were lots of fillies and colts, most of them in good condition. However, the investigators noticed some horses with neglected hooves and one horse with a swollen fetlock. Several horses had fresh cuts on legs and foreheads, likely from the transport to the auction.

A small group of horses was kept away from the public in a pen on the other side of the auction barn. The pen was extremely filthy and covered in manure. In contrast to the other pens, there was no sawdust bedding and the pen floor was very slippery.

The horse sale started at 12:30 pm. Kill buyer Mike Swain, a local horse trader based out of Lethbridge, Alberta, bought horses under the numbers 1, 2 and 5. He paid $ 550 for “fat” horses and $ 175 - $ 310 for horses with average weight. He also bought several colts and fillies. The handling in the auction ring was acceptable. A black filly was separated from his mother and called for her in the auction ring. The mother was sold to slaughter. Some expensive ranch horses sold for $1700 - $ 1900. The sale ended at 2:40 pm.

At 3:55 pm, kill buyer Mike separated the mares and foals from the other horses. Green 3 digit numbers were painted on the backs of the adult horses, likely in preparation for shipment to a slaughter facility. At 6:30 pm, Mike’s stock trailer backed up to the loading ramp (license plate: Alberta Z000-14). At 6:40 pm, they started loading the mares and foals. At 6:50 pm, the loading was finished. Mike’s truck and trailer left Innisfail and headed towards Lethbridge, likely to his collecting station. The horses with the large 3 digit numbers remained at the auction to be picked up by a local transporter during the night or the next morning.