01. August 2022

Investigation in the US: Horse auction in Kalona

Pens and the raceway towards the auction ring.

A paint horse has a severely swollen left front knee and overgrown hooves. He is segregated in a pen without water or shelter.

The eye is swollen and severely infected.

Mare with bleeding injury on her front leg, probably caused by transport.

The emaciated horse was most likely in the trailer overnight.

Together with our partner Animals' Angels USA, we visit the monthly horse auction in the small town of Kalona near Iowa City. We check the conditions of the animals during the sale and monitor the activities of the kill buyers. The auction remains one of the most active slaughter sales in the country. Large scale kill buyers that ship horses both to Mexico and Canada attend the sale.

There are already around 200 horses crammed into the pens at the back of the grounds. The pens are overcrowded and the horses, which are unfamiliar to each other, are stressed. We watch the animals kicking and biting each other due to the stress. We notice some horses in poor condition.  Many are emaciated, have overgrown hooves, or appear to be sick showing symptoms of respiratory disease. In addition, there are also injured horses among the animals, some with bleeding wounds or severely inflamed eyes.

A hydraulic gate separates the horses so that they can be driven into the auction ring individually. Panicked horses hit their heads against the gate or are caught and trapped by the gate when trying to follow another horse. After the auction, the horses stay on the premises overnight and are loaded the next morning. We are shocked to see that one horse is already inside the trailer before the trailer is even moved to the loading dock – indicating that the horse we have seen was left there over night.

The investigation clearly shows that the Kalona auction continues to be a key location for the US horse slaughter industry. Our partner, Animals' Angels USA, will report all identified violations to the relevant authorities.