Recently we had the experience of working with horses that were purchased for the purpose of going to slaughter. I was introduced to this type of thing via FB by a friend who was already rescuing horses and donkeys from the kill pens. I knew that horses were purchased by individuals from Craigslist, free horses and auctions to send them to kill pens and then horses are sold for slaughter. So I took the initiative to watch the Bowie Kill Pen and Kaufmann Kill Pen. My eyes could not believe the beautiful, young and very broke horses and donkeys that were being put up on the FB pages for “Bail” money to save them from going to Mexico for meat.
Seeing two horses that were young and healthy and the “bail fee” not to high on the Kaufmann KillPen page, I decided to post them to our FB page in hopes that folks would chip in towards the bail fee. Within a few minutes someone came forward to pay the entire bail fee on one horse and the next morning another party paid the entire bail fee on the second horse we had posted.
Now we had to make arrangements to get the two horses out of the kill pens and to a safe place that would hold them for quarantine (QT). There are many people who transport and do QT, however not all of them are honest. A person has to be very careful to make sure you work with individuals who are well known and honest in what they do.
Arrangements were made with an individual whose name I was given. Her name is Kami Marshall and she runs RubyHoovz Rescue near the Kaufmann Kill pen. I contacted Kami and she was great, went and picked up both horses within 24 hours of my giving her notice of them. She sent pictures of them at her place showing them in their stalls and also sent pictures of their feet and bodys so I could get a better look at what was purchased. Kami coordinated with one of the veterinarians she works with in getting a health exam and Coggins on the horses within a very short amount of time. One of the horses had an upper respiratory infection and was put on antibiotics. Payment for the services was done over the phone. Kami continued to give me daily updates on both animals. QT is usually a minimum of 14 days and up to 30 if a horse is showing a lot of illness. Once the QT is completed, she arranged for the veterinarian to come back out and issue a Health Certificate and to give the Coggins report. To find out more information about QT please watch this video. QT Information There are many QT facilities available, however not all of them actually isolate the horses from one another. Some will do group QT by keeping many horses in the same turnouts.
Now how to transport to Arizona? There were many options available, and both Kill Pens do post transports they work with and there are many individuals and rescues who do transport. Just contacting them via FB makes it very easy. The hard part is waiting to see when the horses will be healthy enough to travel and to find a transport coming your direction at the same time. Our choice was to go and pick up the horses as we had another rescue that had horses coming from Bastrop, LA and Bowie Pens that we could pickup along the way back. The horse from Bastrop was transported by someone to the Bowie area so we could pick it up easily. There are places along the way to stay overnight with your horses to make the trip easier on your horses. We chose to drive 7-10 hours per day.
After making the decision to drive and pick up the horses we set our time to leave and got ready. Well we became anxious and decided to leave a day early. That put us in Forney Texas where the Kaufmann Kill Pen is located at in the early evening of August 26th. So the person and I that were making this trip figured why not go and see what the “kill pens” are like, to see what our horses had gone through and to see if the horses do indeed ship to Mexico. We arrived unannounced and looked around a bit before we found a young lady there who was hosing down some of the horses as it was hot out. To our amazement we were surprised to find all clean water tanks (actually sparkling) in every pen, no build up of manure, large hay rolls in every pen and there were a lot of pens, and a lot of horses. One pen held just all donkeys and mini horses, another held many types of horses, another pen had pregnant mares and mares with foals, yet another pen had horses with injuries that were being taken care of, and then there was a pen with a lot of different types of horses in it. The lady then came out to talk with us and showed us around after we told her that we were in Texas to pick up some horses that had just come from this kill pen and taking them back to Arizona. The ladies name was Emily and she answered all the questions we asked her. When we were done we thanked her for her time and went back to our hotel to prepare for our next day which was to pick up our two horses from QT and head to Bowie for the other horses being picked up.
Of course we were excited again and got up early. We were a short drive to the QT home but were not expected to pick up the two horses until mid morning. So we decided to go back to the kill pen to see if we could see horses coming in off trucks, or being shipped or ??? This is a video of thepen that was to have shipped the night before. We are sorry to say that the pen is now empty Shipping Pen. The horses had in fact shipped that were there the night before. They do ship horses in the evening so they are not in the heat of the day without food and water. However, we were told that once they get into Mexico they have no access to food or water and may be there for days until they are brutally killed.
When we arrived about 9AM we were met by a gentleman who approached us and asked what we were doing there. We told him the same thing we had told Emily the night before and wanted to know if we could watch them throughout their morning with the horses, we also asked if we could take pictures and videos of what goes on. Immediately and without hesitation he said yes, and invited us to come to the area where the horses were being processed that day. We were given a safe place to stand and be out of the way and yet close enough we could ask questions and take videos and pictures.
Horses were then moved from one area where they were being held and were taken through chutes with two people using a flag. Everything was done slowly and safely, and you could tell the animals just went along with the flow. There was one scared horse, but she just kept moving backwards to the end of the line. Each horse was quietly manuvered forward with the flag and put in the holding chute, which has a scale under it. At this point each horse is tagged with a USDA number which is used for transport to slaughter. The horse is weighed, microchipped and blood drawn for Coggins. Pictures are also taken to identify the horse with the correct tag number. Processing Horses If the horse remains quiet it is lead out and returned to the pen and also can be checked for riding ability at that time. If the animal is unbroke, the chutes are opened back to the original holding pen and the animal moved via flag behind it, all being done quietly, now shouting, no excessive waving and no hitting.
Horses are sorted into different pens, and Emily actually goes into them all numerous times throughout the day to handle them and to see how they interact in a herd environment. If a horse is being picked on excessively it is moved to another pen.
While we were there a gentleman from Oklahome had come to pick up his two donkeys that he purchased. They were cut from the holding pen (again using just flags) and put through the chutes and up into the trailer. While he was there he asked if they had anymore mamas and babies and of course there were more. He walked down and checked some out and purchased another two that were up for sale already. Those were then loaded into his trailer in the same quiet and exact fashion. Loading of Donkeys
The owner Mr. McBarron said he has been in the horse business for 25 years. He loves horses and just does not want to see all horses go to Mexico. He and his assistant Emily strive very hard to make every effort to get the pictures and information on each horse onto the FB page so they can be purchased by individuals instead of being shipped. As long as he gets the money for them and he would prefer it be from individuals rather than from being shipped he is happy. Interview With Mr. McBarron Of course this is not a business that we all like or want to admit takes place in our country, but it does.
We are not a supporter of slaughter but we do know that it is here. At least at this particular kill pen, the horses are taken care of very well, they are shown compassion and diginity even with where they find themselves to be. We were impressed that all pipe corral was in very good condition, shade available, plenty of water and lots of hay and pens cleaned of manure daily. Various Pens & Conditions
As long as there continues to be over breeding, and owners not taking the responsiblity for caring for their elderly or sick horses or taking the time to find a good home and verifying it is a good home, horses will continue to be shipped to kill pens such as this one and then off to Mecixo for meat. It is a horrible epidemic and there seems to be no end in site.
At this particular kill pen, mares and foals, pregnant mares, mini horses and donkeys whose bail is not paid at the cut off time and date, are not shipped. These animals are returned to their respective holding pens and are put up for sale at a later date, at the same time the individuals working at the pens, work with private individuals and local rescue groups in placement.
If you are looking for a horse to rescue and do not find one that you like at regular rescue sites, we suggest you try to rescue a horse from the kill pens. The horse deserves the second chance and the entire process is not difficult and the reward for both you and the horse will be great.