Kalona Horse Auction, IA; 8/6/12

Monday, August 6, 2012 - 13:30
Investigation Category: 

Outside Temperature 85º

The Kalona Horse Auction is the largest in the Midwest. Animals are kept in an extensive indoor/outdoor pen area. It is run by, Devin & Lavaughn Mullet at their premises: Kalona Sale Barn, 121 9th Street, Kalona, IA 52247. 

8:45 a.m. The auction was already crowded with pick-up trucks and stock trailers from Iowa and the surrounding states. “Loose” horses were put into the outside pen area. Signs indicated these horses were being sold “as is”. All but one area was covered with a tarp to offer sun protection and hay and water were available. 

The familiar odor of manure, urine and sweat, plus the ever-prevalent fear of the horses fills the air. Horses of all breeds, sizes and ages were held together in these pens. Most of the horses were agitated with fighting, kicking and biting. Several horses had fresh cut and bite. One was limping; one had a swollen RF knee. His painful injury was quite severe. Several of these horses were thin.

10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Our investigators searched the parking areas checking for the presence of kill buyers. They located the truck and single deck-trailer of Scott Kurtenbach (DOT 866460) from Lawler, IA, parked in front of the loading ramp. The truck of slaughter buyer Keith Tongen from Brownton, MN, (DOT 447051) was also present. Investigators were almost mowed-down by a runaway truck. Five people were injured, one person died.

4:15 p.m. – 5:50 p.m. As soon as the riding horse sale ended auction employees began moving the “loose” horses closer to the auction ring. An older worker was seen hitting horses harshly with his stick.  A worker was spotted pulling shoes off of the “loose” horses in the outside pens.

5:45 p.m. “Loose” horse auction began. Employees moved this frightened groups of horses toward a chute that would lead them into the auction ring. At the entrance a powered, hydraulic gate separates horses. Horses were pushed forward. The gate was extremely loud. Several horses were seen being crushed by the gate as they tried passing through, while others crashed into the gate at full force. Others slammed their heads on the metal tubing and appeared dazed after hitting the mechanism. To view video of our investigation go here

Horses were sold at an alarming rate, about every twenty seconds. A small group, of kill buyers, battled over approximately 350 horses, Three men using Numbers: 97/800, Numbers: 49/48 & Number: 44 bought the majority of the horses. After the sale ended, investigators observed the loading ramps and waited for trucks to arrive to load the horses. Nothing happened. Scott Kurtenbach’s and Keith Tongen’s trucks were among the last ones to load, but no other trucks arrived to pick up horses. The horses were moved back to the outside pens and stayed there for the night.  

8-7 & 8-8

The next two days gave evidence these horses were transported many, many miles, to collection stations and then to slaughter plants.