Knoxville Horse Auction, TN 11/23/13

Saturday, November 23, 2013 - 12:15
Investigation Category: 

Animals’ Angels returned to the large slaughter auction to check if any improvements had been made since their last visit in April. Animals’ Angels had reported the auction back then to law enforcement for leaving an emaciated horse overnight with no access to food and water. They arrived at the auction at 12:20pm while there was still very little activity. They immediately noticed that new signs had been placed along the pen area, stating that “all animal abuse should be reported to management”. Additionally, all the water troughs observed empty during our last visit had been filled and a simple water system with hose connectors was in place. Pens without access to the water troughs had large plastic water buckets. All of the larger pens had access to hay.

At 2:30pm, there were approx. 150 horses inside the pen area. All horses were moved through a narrow chute & scale upon arrival, where blood for Coggins testing was drawn and the auction tag was attached. Several horses were very afraid to enter the scale area and a lot of fighting and kicking was observed. Investigators walked over to the loose horse pens on the left side of the scale and noticed a group of extremely emaciated horses among them with ribs clearly showing and hip bones protruding through the skin. All of them were very shy and appeared to not have been handled much by humans. The horses were “attacking” the hay that was provided to them, eating as much and as fast as they could. Additionally, two of them had severe eye infections. The eye of a dark bay mare was completely swollen shut and puss was dripping from it.

At 2:55pm, the blue semi of Waugh Livestock from Mayslick, KY arrived and dumped approx.20 resale horses. At 3:45pm, the green semi of kill buyer John Birdsong from Carrollton, GA arrived and parked next to the loading ramp. The silver pick-up truck & stock trailer of kill buyer Bruce Rotz was already parked there as well. Investigators walked over to the Birdsong trailer and noticed that there were already a few horses inside. One of them was extremely emaciated and one had a swollen knee. The trailer had no bedding and the floor was covered in manure.

The sale started with the riding horses at 3:52pm and then continued with the loose horse sale at 4:27pm. Bruce Rotz and Birdsong were buying most of the horses, some of them for as low as $12. Watching the horses going through, investigators noticed that the large group of emaciated horses all had been brought in by one individual, seller #184.

The sale ended at 6:06pm. Bruce Rotz immediately started loading his pick up and finished 20 minutes later. Auction workers moved Birdsong’s horses to the loading ramp in large groups. They were very impatient, rushing the horses into a small pen. The horses were extremely agitated and the workers were observed hitting them across the face with their moving flags for no reason. Birdsong started to load at 6:50pm and left the auction at 7:21pm.

Animals’ Angels will continue to monitor this sale. While it appears that some of our requests were met and water is now provided to all horses, there is still a need for improvement. Severely emaciated or sick horses should not be accepted at the sale. Furthermore, the handling is still too rough. AA routinely reports violations to all relevant enforcement agencies.