Animals’ Angels investigators returned to the Kalona Horse Auction, which is one of the largest horse auctions in the Midwest. The auction is owned by Devin Mullet. AA has been complaining about the conditions at the sale for years, especially about the use of an inhumane hydraulic gate to separate the horses in front of the auction ring.
10:00 a.m. The auction parking lot was already crowded with vehicles from Iowa and the surrounding states. “Loose” horses were put straight into the outside pen area. Hay was available, however, the water troughs in two of the pens were empty. As usual, approx. 30 horses were put together in each of the large pens and a lot of kicking, biting and fighting was observed. Several horses were thin. Others had swollen knees, fresh transport injuries, overgrown hooves and obvious eye infections. “That’s why these ‘things’ are here”, noted one auction visitor hardheartedly.
Inside the lot, investigators spotted the trucks of slaughter buyers Keith Tongen from Brownton, MN, and George Baker from Stroud, OK. Both have a long history of shipping horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.
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. The loose horse auction started earlier than normal at 2:00pm. Employees moved the frightened horses toward the chute that lead into the auction ring. At the entrance they are separated by the hydraulic gate. Similar to previous observations, several horses were hit 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.
Horses were sold at a fast pace, about every twenty seconds. The kill buyers, sitting prominently in the first row of the auction ring, battled fiercely over the approximately 200 horses. Once the sale was over, loading started immediately. Approx. 60 of the loose horses were moved back to the outside pens and stayed there until the next day. The next morning, they were tagged for slaughter and shipped to Canada.
Animals’ Angels will continue to monitor this sale to expose the poor conditions and treatment and to report any observed violations to the relevant authorities. In recent years, tourism has become more and more important to Kalona. Eager to continue to increase the revenue from the tourism industry, town officials are paying more attention to negative news than ever. It is only a matter of time before due to Animals’ Angels continued public exposure the Kalona auction will be forced to clean up their act.