Vet Takes Horse to Auction: Cause for Concern?

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The following email was sent to me and got me thinking; dangerous, I know.  Would you judge and/or condemn a vet for sending a horse to slaughter via auction?

“Camelot posted a photo a couple of weeks ago of an Anglo 4 yo with papers in the kill pen. A friend of mine bailed her and shipped her to her place. Contacted the owner/breeder to get the story. Owner said mare was an oops, and she just couldn’t keep her anymore. So HER VET took the mare to an auction, getting $60. My friend calls the vet, for medical info too, and he admits he knew she’d go to slaughter! A VET! The auction in FL was Saturday 7/21, horse was at New Holland on Monday and Camelot by Weds, then to my friend that weekend. If you Google map the owner’s address, it’s a very big house with lots of ground. Oh, and the mare’s feet hadn’t been done in over 6 months and was thin. BTW, the mare is sweet and a GORGEOUS mover. Even broke to ride. You should see her! Asshats.”

All other details aside, and even on the odd chance this story isn’t true (sorry, it’s the internets, you can’t blindly trust people), there is a valid discussion topic here: What would you do if you found out your vet took a horse to auction, knowing it would likely go to slaughter?

For argument’s sake, let’s say your vet did take a horse to auction.  Would you be outraged?  Would you worry about their care of your horses from then on?  I know I would.  Especially given the horror stories we frequently (read: almost always) hear about horses on their way to the slaughterhouse – let’s face it, most horses at auction are going to slaughter these days.  My first thought would be what type of a person can save horses one minute, and condemn them to a cruel fate the next?  Did the vet even offer to humanely euthanize the horse?  And, if the owner declined, why did the vet agree to take the horse to auction?

I’m getting a little off track with unanswerable questions.  What’s your take on the situation?  Would you be ok with your vet doing this?

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  1. Posted by Pretty Pitty, at Reply

    A medical degree (human or animal) does not make someone a good person.

    It’s not unheard of for participants in dog fighting to have a vet that is “friendly” or at least blind to their activities and will patch up dogs for them. I attended a dog auction in Amish country a few years ago (there are some images from that experience that will haunt me for the remainder of my life) and in spite of the sickening condition of the animals for sale there was a licensed vet on duty who was “certifying” them as healthy as is required by state regs. What about the track vets who are a party to the horrifying amount of drugs pumped that may be pumped into a horse in an attempt to get just one more race out of an animal that is clearly failing?

    Are all vets like this? No, of course not but neither should there be any assumption that they are all good either. Some got into the business because they love animals others just wanted to earn what they hoped would be a paycheck.

    The point is I pick my vet as carefully as I pick my friends or my own doctor. I want someone whose values are in line with my own. I realize that for people living in very rural areas the choice of a vet may be a non-issue – if there is only one vet within 200 miles I guess that’s the vet you’ll be using. But given any choice at all who would be comfortable with the vet described in this post?

    • Posted by Lori Minkus, at Reply

      About the dog fighting and the Amish. Some vets will bite their tounges in order to treat the dogs that fight correctly and with appropriate medications. If the guys who own the dogs know they can take any sick or injured dog into this vet without fear of being turned in they WILL. And the dog suffers a wee teeny tiny bit less. If he is too torn up the vet can euthanise with a barbituate and end his life peacefully, not have the poor creature linger in Hell for another week.
      It’s the same for the puppy mills that the Amish run. If a vet will treat the dogs without turning the Evil bastards in they may actually have a dog treated! ( gasp 😮 ). Or if the vet certify the dog “Fit” in order to allow it salable to the public it gives That 1 dog a chance. The more that the vet can get out of that stinking festering hell hole the better.

      It’s a double edged sword. It may allow the cmininal to continue but it in the end saves a lot of animals from unessesary suffering.
      The vets take on a huge burden when they do this work, it’s emotional suicide by inches.

      • Posted by formyponies, at Reply

        Sorry, Lori, I know what you’re saying, but that’s like saying buying horses from Christy Sheidy (AC4H) is ok if it means “saving that one horse.” It’s not ok. Until people STOP supporting these people they will not go away …

        • Posted by Cathy Atkinson, at Reply

          I NEVER know how to side on this stuff. I hate it. I try to only buy from KB’s where no ‘rescuer’ is also taking a profit, but I do buy from KB’s.

        • Posted by Lori Minkus, at Reply

          I get 100%. I raked Christy over the coals then had one of her supportes pull an exceptional TB from a kill pen. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa.

  2. Posted by Janalina, at Reply

    I wondered too why the vet would not just offer to euthanize the mare. The root of this problem is people breeding horses they can’t sell or care for. The owners excuse that the Mare was an Oops is particularly sickening. Really? They couldn’t keep the stallion away from one of their mares? If one can’t take the chance that breeding might result in a less than desireable progeny that one has to then be responsible for then DON’T BREED. Every time I read one of these stories I want to become Queen of the Universe and jettison irresponsible animal owners to Mars along with that rover thingy.

    • Posted by CattleDog, at Reply

      My thoughts exactly. I know “oops happens” but with 1000lb+ animals? Really? Did you misplace your stud? Or did you just not care/think about the problems of having adjoining paddocks, or fencing insufficient to contain your animals?

      And then realizing (like a good breeder would) that there is that (extremely rare) chance that “oops” occurs, they need to be responsible for the result of the “oops.”

      • Posted by Icy Rider, at Reply

        You DO know that an “oops baby” can be as simple as a horse rubbing a gate off of it’s hinges and going over to the NEIGHBOR’S stud for a visit, right?

        We almost had to deal with that with my 24-year-old mare that still cycles. YES the gate was installed improperly, BUT it’s not our property, and there’s NOTHING we can do about it (property owners said so). She rubbed her head against the gate JUST RIGHT, knocked it off it’s hinges, went out to the road and down the driveway that leads to the property where a friend of ours boards his stud. We got lucky on a few fronts: one, neighbors stud has been specifically trained NOT to breed through the fence, two, my mare (and the gelding she was pastured with) didn’t try to jump any of the three fences between them and the stallion (two barbed wire [lining one of the driveways] and one three strand electric [keeping the stud in]), and three, there are deer coming out of our armpits here, so MOST people drive cautiously enough to avoid all four-legged animals on the road.

        • Posted by Janalina, at Reply

          Your case is an actual oops, but the majority of them are just the result of greedy asshole breeders who get a colt that doesn’t end up having the right conformation/mind/performance/$$$$ potential so they “lose” the papers and send the horse off to auction of try to unload it on CL. If they had an ounce of compassion or responsibility they would take care of their own shit and not send it away to be tortured and killed for food.

        • Posted by Barrelsaddle, at Reply

          Mine was a “ligitimate” oops too! Palomino QH stallion down the road got out, my red roan sabino Marsh Tacky pony mare was a braizen hussy. He easily cleared the 4 foot fence (hotwire that was on) and came a -courtin’. She happily obliged. By the time I realized he was there due to their “singing” to each other, he’d already been up and down off her. Got a real pretty sorrel overo half QH, half Marsh Tacky colt out of that odd cross. Now he’s a happy 8 year old gelding who is a well loved 4H and trail horse. I would have NEVER bred the mare otherwise.

  3. Posted by Monica, at Reply

    What would i do? Probably end up in jail for beating the living hell out of him. What kind of vet send a horse to slaughter? A horse that’s probably full of drugs on top of that! He doesn’t about animal or human life!
    Piece of scum!!

  4. Posted by LRCG09, at Reply

    I’m a registered vet tech, & I’m 100% against horse slaughter. So, not all medical personnel are heartless/bad people. Patient care & comfort comes first. I have no clue how the equine vets I work for feel about horse slaughter, & I’m afraid to find out. However, they did help a majority of the horses that survived the slaughter truck accident in ’07 here in Missouri. So I’m hoping & praying they are against it. If they are pro-slaughter, there is no way I would be able to trust them.

    Sadly, the AVMA & AAEP are both pro-slaughter veterinary associations. I have no clue why. My guess is that they believe all the bullshit lies that pro-slaughter people come up with. But most (not all) vets just listen to what the AVMA & AAEP have to say, & go along with it. There is an association for vets against slaughter (I forgot the name), & I wish they had a list of participating vets by state on their website.

    Knowing the vets I work for, they would rather humanely euthanize a horse (by overdose of an IV anesthetic drug) than send a horse to slaughter. But, that’s probably because they actually care about their patients.

    With the amount of gas money that vet is wasting by hauling that horse to auction, he should have just humanely euthanized the horse. It would have saved him time & money, & it would have saved the horse from any trauma & a possible inhumane death.

  5. Posted by Babs Kothe, at Reply

    No….I would not be OK with that..OMG..that is just so wrong on so many could you trust such a vet to advise you on the health and well being of your horse if he/she thinks any solution involves slaughter..for $60.00..seriously sickening..

  6. Posted by Collette, at Reply

    100% Deal breaker. Time to change vets.

  7. Posted by formyponies, at Reply

    The AVMA is pro-slaughter. Obviously, like the AQHA, that doesn’t mean all members are pro-slaughter. But it’s hard to “condemn” a vet when their parent organization supports the practice.

    That said, I’d never use a vet who supports slaughter. I’m just offering thoughts as to what they may be thinking … Or, for that matter, they probably just do not care. An advanced degree in a subject does not guarantee compassion. I’m a teacher with an advanced degree and know plenty of other teachers with advanced degrees who are downright shitty to their students. And I have a degree in Animal Sciences and have worked with plenty of vets, techs, etc who either hate or are afraid of animals. Makes no sense to me, but …

  8. Posted by CattleDog, at Reply

    Is anyone else concerned that the writer of that email might have (unintentionally and unjustifiably) encouraged/validated the breeder and vet?
    Although I would have done the same thing (hey, if you can find out breeding and health info on a rescue, that’s a huge plus!), now Breeder and Vet can go “see, we made some money off the horse, didn’t waste our time with training or selling, and the horse is FINE!”.
    Anyway, glad the horse is okay.

  9. Posted by Samma, at Reply

    I have no problem with auctions themselves. I’ve been to one, and I’ve seen everything from scrawny, wormy weanlings some BYB dumped to finished horses that aren’t being publicized enough to sell. One owner had a very nice trail horse (no shows, no papers, but bombproof as can be), and he put a reserve price on the horse. If someone didn’t bid that much, he wouldn’t sell.

    If that had been the case here, I’d have no problem with what the vet did. But willingly sending a horse to slaughter… now that I have a problem with. It strikes me as shady as hell, a conflict of interest. I wouldn’t trust a vet like that.

  10. Posted by oldredhorse, at Reply

    I think some of it comes down to people not being able to euthanize and animal and many vets who will not euthanize something that is not suffering. Everybody has this over the rainbow warm fuzzy feeling when they think their animal is going to a good home but honestly there are not enough homes for the current number of animals, be it cats, dogs or horses. No one wants to be the one to euthanize something that is healthy and young and everyone looks for a good rescue or sanctuary to take said animal but then we end up the situations such as Three Strikes or Spindletop. If you cannot find a good home for your animal, be a compassionate owner and put it down, don’t pawn it off on someone else so you can feel all warm and fuzzy inside and hope that it is getting at least some level of care.

    I probably wouldn’t be thrilled if a horse professional that I used is pro slaughter but if they provide good care to my animals and I have a client history with them, I would probably keep using them, in my opinion their personal views are just that.

    • Posted by Maggie, at Reply

      Wish all vets would euthanize any animal that an owner wants put to sleep.

  11. Posted by Cathy Atkinson, at Reply

    I have rescued a horse from a vet’s property where the horses all had neglected feet and several were underweight. Oh, and the vet is a big deal in rescue and holds herself out as wonderful. (Not in WA, for those of you trying to narrow it down).

    Deal breaker for me too. The only power we have is our wallets. Don’t give your money to asshats.

  12. Posted by Spots, at Reply

    My old vet’s favorite saying if anything serious happened to your horse was “Beef him.” Meaning send him to the sale as quickly as possible and get what you can for him. Many an owner chose not to follow his advise and still are riding their horses today. My new vet on the other hand is a “save them at all costs” type of vet. After you put thousands into them, THEN she says. “Yea, I didn’t think he had a chance.” Like, why didn’t you tell me that before I spent all that money. Somewhere in-between those two extremes, there has to be a good vet.

  13. Posted by Frost, at Reply

    It sounds like the previous owner was okay with the animal going to auction and potentially slaughter, so.. I’m a little hesitant to hang all the blame on the vet here. Do I think the vet is a good person? Nope. But do I think it’s the vet’s fault? Not really, not without more information. Why didn’t the owner try to sell the horse first or place it? Sounds like the owner isn’t broke… so I’m not really willing to give them a pass as they owned the horse, not the vet. From what info there is, it sounds like the owner went, “This horse is an oops, get rid of it for me, vet!” and the vet did so.

    I’ve kept multiple intact dogs for years, showing and breeding, and I’ve never had an oops, and even if I had, that’s not a valid reason to dump the animal without much hope of getting a good home. Glad the horse got pulled by someone, at least.

  14. Posted by Becky, at Reply

    I would not give a penny to a vet who would choose to take a horse to auction. Never. I would put a bullet in my horses heads myself (and I am not a gun person) before I let it happen to them.

    Veterinarians are supposed to be saving animals from suffering, not promoting. it.

  15. Posted by Skittle, at Reply

    I run into the problem of just finding a vet. My local vet had his license revoked because someones old, sick, beyond help dog died on his watch and the lady sued. Now I don’t have a vet. Period. My mare kicked my friends mare, and she probably should have had a couple stitches, but there isn’t a vet around that would make a house call and neither of us have a trailer. So we did what we could with some lime I had on hand to stop the bleeding. (not my first choice, but we had to do something and that was what I had)

    Now I’m in a situation where I’d need to trailer an hour or or longer in an emergency, or keep the pistol loaded in case they hurt themselves bad enough that I can’t help. I’d almost rather have a pro-slaughter vet then nothing.

    • Posted by Maggie, at Reply

      Don’t you just hate people who sue?

      • Posted by Skittle, at Reply

        Especially when them suing causes an entire county to be without a large animal vet.
        There is a supposed large animal vet close here, but she didn’t show up at my neighbors when she said she would, then called Harrisburg to tell them her farm had a contagious outbreak and shut her down for an entire race season.

        The same vet managed to drench my boyfriend while attempting to give my beagle a rabies shot, so I think I’m better off without her.

        I miss Doc. He was a great vet, and didn’t charge you an arm and a leg to do anything. Even an emergency farm call cost me under $150, and it required stitches and sedation. While he was here, he did a quick check up on my then 2 month old filly, and gave my mares rabies shots.

    • Posted by Soltera, at Reply

      Keeping the pistol loaded would solve many of the above heartaches. But get a rifle, or a huge calibe pistol. It’s harder than you think. No shame in putting down a horse who unarguably won’t make it.

      Putting down a Woops? Nope. Find him a home if it takes the rest of your life!

  16. Posted by wandering, at Reply

    I can’t say I’d trust a vet who took horses to slaughter, but just for the sake of playing devil’s advocate: the information indicates the horse was sellable, so if all we knew was that a vet took her to an auction, would there be any way someone would believe the vet expected the horse to find a home? I ask because I’m not a horse owner and have never been to an auction. I do know there are a lot of factors that could influence someones interpretation of the situation (the particular auction, if there was a reserve set, etc), but under any circumstances would it be plausible that going to auction would be perceived as preferable to immediate euthanasia?

  17. Posted by Sarah, at Reply

    It’s not the vet I’d have an issue with. We NEED an outlet for all of these unwanted horses. CAMELOT is who my issue would be with. They are SUCH a bunch of sheisters. They are full of it and exist solely because everyone wants to save the ponies. 3 things most people don’t realize though about these horses that are “in the kill pen” and “being saved from slaughter”. #1 Ponies and minis do NOT get sold for slaughter. They simply aren’t worth the time or money to transport them, and slaughterhouses will not take them. Every week, most of the “kill pen” is full of PONIES. Right now 2 out of the 4 left are freaking ponies. #2 MANY of the horses on the website are much too thin to ever make it across the border. #3 A slaughterhouse will NOT slaughter a grey horse. They will turn them back. Under no circumstances will they slaughter one. Now, I am only speaking of the Canadian ones because I am not familiar with the Mexican plants, but considering Camelot is in NJ, those horses would be going to Canada. Oh, an I forgot to mention their fees are OUTRAGEOUS. These folks that “save” these horses are getting ripped off. They no only have no clue what they’re buying, they are also paying 2-3 times kill price. Frank buys these horses from New Holland and other auctions, then runs them through his own auction “selling” them to #10 (the “kill buyer”). There is no kill buyer unfortunately.

    Back to the point. Would I be mad at the vet? Absolutely not. In fact, I’d never ask a vet to do that because I can nut up and either find my own horse a home, or ship him myself. I’d be more pissed off that the horse ended up making those assholes money.

    • Posted by TerrorizedTrailGuide, at Reply

      huh, I’ve never heard about grey horses not going to slaughter (I just looked it up) definitely not the case here, our KBs will pick up anything so long as its cheap and they can make a few bucks. I’ve seen plenty of footage of grey horses in kill pens and slaughter houses in Canada though, I think it’s just a rumor for most places- it may not be for your area, I couldn’t say. Some KB’s may not, but horses of any and every color go to slaughter all the time in my area.

  18. Posted by Sarah, at Reply

    Whoops, my apologies. 3 out of the 4 left are ponies, the other is right at 14.2 hands.

  19. Posted by Bassgirl, at Reply

    “Would you be ok with your vet doing this?”

    Easy answer….my vet would not do this. End of discussion. :)

  20. Posted by NotForTheTimid, at Reply

    A Docotor of Veterinary Medicine is not a Ph.D. in morals, or ethics or compassion or common sense, for that matter.

    I used to think vets were a rare breed, and could NOT, by virtue of their profession, be anything but for the animals. How very wrong I was.
    They serve the owner of the animal.
    Not the animal.

  21. Posted by NotForTheTimid, at Reply

    Or a Doctor:)

  22. Posted by Theresa Nolet, at Reply

    Don’t forget slaughter houses have vets on site and payroll. The AVMA supports slaughter even though they say they are neutral.

  23. Posted by Jenn, at Reply

    Wait. Her VET? Did she owe the vet money? Why did her vet have access to the animal?

    There is a deeper story here, I think.