Animals’ Angels investigators returned to the premises of California horse trader Don Gatz in February. Gatz, who is 80 years old, has a previous conviction for felony animal cruelty, yet remains active in the slaughter horse business as he continues to purchase large numbers of horses at local auctions, despite his advanced years.
Our investigative research indicates that many of these horses end up in Texas and New Mexico, at the premises of large-scale slaughter buyers Dennis Chavez and Joe Rios. However, to date, California authorities have not investigated this matter despite abundant evidence.
Public documents indicate that Gatz recently sold his ranch in Patterson, but he maintains his large property in Atwater. When AA investigators visited the premises in February, there were approximately 25 horses and a large pen with cattle visible. Even though there were plenty of large-sized pens available, the horses were kept in small, barren pens in different areas of the property. Several had auction tags still attached to them.
Gatz’s white truck and stock trailer was parked next to the pen area. AA investigators monitored Gatz’s activities for several days, but no shipments of horses were observed.
Animals’ Angels will continue to monitor the situation.