Investigators arrived at the New Holland Auction at 8:00 a.m. It was an inclement day with temperatures at 30 degrees and a mixture of rain and snow falling. It was immediately noted that there were not as many horses as usual at the sale.
When investigators entered the sale barn, they saw that a mare with tag #370 was lying flat on her side, her head tied to a feed trough with a rope. The investigators suspected colic. An auction visitor kicked at the horse’s feet to see if she would get up, but nothing. Investigators also documented a bay Standardbred with tag #409, who had a very enlarged knee on his left hind leg; a Belgian Draft gelding with tag #362 with a very swollen right hind leg, most likely lymphedema in an advanced state with a secondary skin infection; a grey mare with a severe pelvic injury; and a Belgian Draft filly with tag #440 with septic joint infections.
Investigators noted that the Belgian Draft with tag #362 was originally kept prominently in front of the barn to the left of the auction ring, but when he began to receive too much attention, auction employees moved him into the end section of a small side barn.
The horse with tag #370 that was previously down with suspected colic was able to get up after auction employees pushed and pulled her to get up. She looked weak and exhausted. Auction vet Dr. Holt was present and checked on the horses, but found most of them to be fit for sale under PA law.
PA Title 18, Section 5511 states:
(d) Selling or using disabled horse.--A person commits a summary offense if he offers for sale or sells any horse, which by reason of debility, disease or lameness, or for other cause, could not be worked or used without violating the laws against cruelty to animals, or leads, rides, drives or transports any such horse for any purpose, except that of conveying the horse to the nearest available appropriate facility for its humane keeping or destruction or for medical or surgical treatment.
Additional Information: A lot of factors determine if a horse is “fit for sale” and it is important to thoroughly examine the animal. A horse with a body condition score of less than 3 or a horse that is completely blind is not considered “fit”. However, the determination is not always easy: For example, the fact that a horse is bearing weight on all four legs does not make it “fit for sale” if working the animal would be a violation of PA cruelty law. The horse should also be able to walk and turn in any direction comfortably.
The auction started at 10:06 a.m. Kill buyers Bruce Rotz & Brian Moore were present, as well as horse traders Cedar Ridge Farm, DeHart, and Cranbury Sales Stables. The Belgian Draft filly, the Belgian Draft gelding and the grey mare were all bought by rescues.
While at the auction, investigators also checked on the welfare of the animals in the sheep/goat barn. The live animals observed looked to be in acceptable condition. However, there were several found dead, all discarded in the pen area like trash. A dead goat was found on the loading ramp with her hind leg tied to the gate.
Animals’ Angels has reported all these findings to local law enforcement. It is imperative that when violations occur, that all witnesses step forward to ensure that law enforcement has the evidence necessary to pursue a case. If auctions, abusive owners or kill buyers are allowed to continue cruel and inhumane practices unabated, there will be no change for the poor animals that have the misfortune to find themselves in these people’s “care”. Animals’ Angels will continue to monitor this location. Likewise, we will continue to work with law enforcement to hold the auction and irresponsible owners accountable for any violations of the PA cruelty laws.