We know many of our followers wonder what it is actually like to go to a slaughter auction, and what our rescue process is. How do we decide who to rescue? How do we know who to save? When we started rescuing horses at auctions 16 years ago, we would pick and choose the horses in the most adoptable stage of life, horses we knew we could find homes for. Over 10 years ago our founder, Tawnee, was at an auction and there were two bonded senior horses with health problems. Their owners should have done the right thing for them and given them the Last Act of Kindness, but instead they were dumped at the auction. Tawnee petted them and walked away, hoping some nice person would buy them. Sadly, that is not the reality at slaughter auctions or the slaughter pipeline. After the auction she watched both of those sweet horses load up onto a kill truck, headed to Mexico for slaughter. That moment was a defining moment in her life: she knew that rescue had to be done a different way. Those two horses needed help just as much as adoptable horses. Now when we go to auctions we walk through and look at all the horses. We want to help as many horses as we can, no matter what stage of life they are in. Just walking down the pens you might not notice that many of the horses are injured, have long hooves, are sick with contagious diseases, and are often skinny or emaciated. When you walk into the pens and take a closer look at the horses, you can see the pain in their eyes.
Sometimes there are horses that just grab our hearts before the sale and we know we have to save them. Typically, however, we try to wait until the horses are in the auction ring and we bid to keep them above slaughter price. Our team knows who the kill buyers are, and keep a close eye on who they are bidding on. We save as many horses as we can in the slaughter price range, no matter what stage of life: they all need help, even if it is only to love them and say a tearful goodbye if they are suffering. If we see a private person/family start bidding, we will stop bidding unless the kill buyers start bidding again. It’s a very fast pace sale, over 100 horses are sold in a short time, some horses only have seconds in the ring. Sometimes the auction doesn’t get over until after midnight, and the later the auction goes, the fewer people are there, leaving just the kill buyers and our rescue team bidding on the horses. After the auction, our team makes sure the horses are in safe pens and settled for the night. The kill buyers usually load up their horses right after the auction, there are large stock trailers and semi trucks loading up into the early hours of the morning. It’s heart-wrenching to watch, and a number of times we couldn’t help ourselves but buy one off the trailer. The next morning our rescue team does intake photos of every horse and documents their condition. Then they are transported to our shelter.
After arriving at our shelter, our intake team is ready and waiting. Our shelter vet sees each horse to ensure there is nothing critical going on, and make sure each horse gets what it needs. All the horses are scanned for microchips in case they were stolen. They are given deworming, vaccinations, electrolytes, whatever they need. Most of all they are given lots of love. They have been through a lot and they are truly survivors of a horrendous industry happening in the United States.
After their intake they will spend approximately 30 days in quarantine, time varies for each horse depending on its condition and whether it got sick from the auction. This is a nice time for the horses to settle down and get back into the routine of just being a horse. No stress, nobody pushing them around, just sitting back grazing and relaxing.
After the quarantine is over they are then evaluated by one of our trainers. Because we don’t know the history of the horses our trainers evaluate each horse as if the horse doesn’t know anything and then figures out what they do know along the way. Sometimes horses are ridden through the auction and seem like excellent riding horses, but they were drugged and have some major behavioral problems. We are always thankful those horses came to us because we can help them. If they went to a first time or inexperienced horse owner, it could be disastrous.
After the horses are evaluated they are put on our website and our adoption team starts looking for the perfect home for them. Many people want to adopt horses right after we rescue them from auction, but these horses need quarantine and their evaluations done. If you are an extremely experienced horse person with a good relationship with your vet who can quarantine we do sometimes let horses be adopted before quarantine is complete if it is an appropriate situation and the best for that horse.
All the hard work of rescuing horses from auction is so rewarding when they are adopted! It’s what it’s all about! The average stay for horses at our shelter is 30-90 days. Yes, we do get attached to them during that time, but it’s always a happy day when they start their new lives with their new loving owner.
It costs about $1,000 per horse to rescue and shelter from the auction until they find their new home. Purchasing them from auction, veterinarian bills, microchipping, vaccinating, deworming, it all costs a lot. We are counting on you to help us save horses. The next auction we are going to is tomorrow. We currently have enough funds to rescue and shelter 15 horses. Our quarantine facility can easily handle 20 horses, and we are really hoping we can count on you to make a donation. Every dollar really helps, it all adds up to help a horse in need.
By phone: 1-888-HPHS-077
Horse Plus Humane Society
P.O. Box 485, Hohenwald, TN 38462
Thank You For Your Support!
Horse Plus Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal welfare organization, tax ID #20-1156396.