sends investigators into the field, to trail livestock trucks and visit markets, collecting stations and slaughterhouses to expose abuses involved in horse slaughter, long distance transport, non-ambulatory animals, and factory farming. Their investigators provide documented reports and video footage to news media as a public service, and share what they find with auction and slaughter plant management, “to encourage positive change in the way farm animals are handled during transportation, at auction, and at slaughter.” (Imagine being a fly on the wall at one of those meetings.)

Check out their investigations here.

Out of luck animal at Dennis Chavez’s Southwest Livestock Auction & Slaughter Horse Feedlot. March 2012. (Photo: Animals’ Angels)

Last year ANIMAL POST reported on their investigation of a New Mexico facility operated by Dennis Chavez, New Mexico’s largest kill buyer, where investigators found a pitiful scene of corrals strewn with dead and dying horses.

Most recently Animal Angels documented conditions at the Knoxville Livestock Center (the research may not yet be posted, keep checking), one of the largest horse auctions in the Southeast and popular with kill buyers. Locals had complained about the poor treatment of the horses they’d witnessed there.

The investigators saw auction horses being unloaded and crammed into a narrow chutes, then into large, overcrowded pens. Stressed, the horses fought over food and water, the more dominant horses preventing the weaker horses from drinking.

Inspectors found the auction house animals in extremely poor physical condition. Two “resembled walking skeletons.”

Several horses were observed that were clearly ill or injured. Investigators noted: a horse with an eye infection, a weakened horse who continued to lay down in the pen, a horse with a clubbed foot and lame, a mare in heat with weighted shoes, bandaged and wrapped front legs, perhaps from soring, a horse with a back injury & skin problem, multiple horses with fresh cuts and smaller injuries, multiple horses with overgrown hooves, and multiple emaciated horses.

The severely emaciated horse #5164 was also moved through the sale ring, but no one wanted to buy her.

After the auction concluded, the investigators watched one buyer and his assistants load fourteen horses into a trailer whose entrance was too low for the ramp. Every horse that walked up hit its head and panicked. “The workers beat them over the head with ropes, paddles, and sticks, leading to complete mayhem.”

Filled with horses the truck left the auction, drove for hours and parked, leaving the horses inside the trailer overnight without food or water.

Back at the auction, investigators found an emaciated horse that had been left with no food or water for over a day. The investigators called the Sheriff’s office who sent an officer to questioned the workers. A worker lied, claiming the animal had been sold and given food and water. The investigators provided evidence that showed otherwise. The auction manager called and threatened the officer, informing him that he was not allowed to take any photos. The officer was not intimidated and walked the entire premises with the investigators and ordered that the horse be given food and water immediately.

The investigators shared their photo documentation and the police report with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, State Veterinarian, and AG Crime Unit Officer. They noted they will continue to monitor the Knoxville Auction and ensure that it is held accountable for how it treats the animals in its care.

What Animals’ Angels investigators do is the opposite of glamorous. And undoubtedly heartbreaking. This particular reports seems fairly typical. It’s a hot, dirty business, documenting awful stuff, dealing with people who could give a shit about animals. But it’s valuable work. The people they’re watching aren’t going to change their behavior willingly.

If you want to support what they do, go here.