Animals’ Angels investigators returned to the monthly horse sale in the small town of Kalona, IA to check on the conditions for the animals at the sale and to monitor the kill buyer activity. The auction remains one of the most active slaughter sales in the country and large scale kill buyers shipping both south and north frequent the sale.
When investigators arrived at the sale at 12:20pm, there were already approx. 200 horses inside the loose horse pens in the back. It was a hot and humid day and investigators were relieved to see that the shelter above the pens was intact and that the pens had water. However, as always, the pens were very crowded and a lot of fighting, kicking and kicking was observed.
There were again many horses in poor condition. Besides many that were emaciated, had overgrown hooves or appeared sick with a respiratory disease, there were a few that stood out:
- One older Belgium draft (#831) with a horrific right eye. The eye was swollen shut and severely infected. It was unclear if this was due to an earlier injury or disease.
- A Paint horse (#531) that was segregated in a shelter less pen without water had a severely swollen left front knee and overgrown hooves.
- A cream-colored mare had what appeared to be a fresh transport injury on her front left leg, which was still bleeding. The leg was swollen, and the mare appeared very agitated.
Investigators checked the parking lot for kill buyer/known horse trader trucks and noticed that buyers from all across the US had flocked to the sale:
Greg Stanley & Sons truck, Saline River Farms (Arkansas) was parked prominently in the middle of the parking lot. Upon closer inspection, investigators noted that a very emaciated, poor looking gelding had been left inside the trailer.
Norstar Stable from Ohio, suspected to be transporting for Bauer Farms.
Cooper Livestock from Kentucky
Ron Harker from New Jersey
At 4:00pm, the loose horses were moved inside towards the auction ring. At 5:10pm, the sale started. All loose horses were again separated via hydraulic gate, which was complete mayhem. Panicked horses hit the gate with their heads or were caught and “crushed” by the gate when attempting to follow a fellow horse. Most upsetting, the Amish/Mennonite gate operator was eating ice cream while controlling the gate and seemed to pay more attention to his food than to ensuring that the gate would not hit the animals.
Inside the auction ring, investigators noticed kill buyer Scott Kurtenbach and the buyer for the Baker kill pen in Oklahoma were also in attendance. Boots Stanley was maintaining a distance from all the other buyers and was bidding from all the way in the back of the audience.
After the sale was over, most of the large rigs left for the night. It is likely that DOT concerns were the reason for them not loading until the next morning. At 8:30am, the Baker truck was the first one to load. At 9:00am, the Stanley truck backed up to the ramp.
Investigators were shocked to see that one horse was already inside the trailer before the trailer connected to the loading dock – indicating that the horse investigators had seen the day before was still inside the trailer.
The investigation showed that the Kalona auction continues to be a key location for the US horse slaughter industry. Animals’ Angels has reported all violations observed to the applicable authorities.