Being an equine sanctuary we try to help horses in many ways, one way is to rescue before they are sent to the slaughter pipeline. Another way is to rescue at auction, again before they are sent into the slaughter pipeline. Another way is to rescue from a kill pen when the horse is already in the middle of the slaughter pipeline.
Many times horses whose owners don’t care how they get rid of them when they no longer want them is to sell to a kill buyer. If this sounds horrific to you, it is, maybe more than you realize. The kill buyer is looking to fill a specific load so he can send them in a cattle trailer to Mexico to be slaughtered and sent overseas for human consumption. Many do not survive the harrowing trip, but unfortunately, many do.
Before the kill buyer meets his load requirement he tries to sell them from his kill pen for inflated prices to the general public. Sometimes they are exactly as stated, many times they are not and very sick, some even dying en route to their new home or shortly thereafter. The kill buyer makes a lot of money whether the horses he sells for slaughter go on to Mexico or are purchased by an individual.
Aspen is a titled Mustang mare who found herself in the Smith Kill Pen near Peabody, KS selling for $550. Her photos were heartwrenching, when she was ridden to see how gentle she was, it was obvious she was in pain. She was filthy, with a defeated look in her eye. We had to help her, somehow.
I contacted a trusted quarantine/foster service that I had used before and had become friends with, they not only said they could take her but would transport her from the kill pen to their location as soon as bail was paid.
So, let the fundraising begin!
Within a little over 24 hours our sanctuary received enough in donations to bail her out of the kill pen, transport her to quarantine and allow her to start her new life.
We soon found out that this little mare had most probably been someone’s pride and joy once upon a time, sweet, docile and loving of people, Aspen was soon becoming a favorite of mine as I do love the seniors. She was vet checked, had her teeth floated and her hooves trimmed without much fuss and it turns out she is a healthy little mare.
Upon reading her brand I found her to be a 2003 Mustang mare out of the Teterville Holding facility right there in KS not far from the kill pen she was disposed at by an owner who either didn’t know any better or more than likely, one who just didn’t care.
Aspen may have stayed in KS with the people who quarantined her if her temperment had been a little less firey, but Aspen has a spoiled streak in her that made that impossible. Our sanctuary gladly decided to go ahead and add her to our little Mustang herdlet. She traveled well and settled in to the routine, but it would be three months before she would decide some of the horses that reside here were not her enemy. I have never seen a petite little mare kick and squeal as much as Aspen did to show her displeasure.
Now 4 months later she has turned into a sweet mare who gets along well with her herd mates and is a most welcome addition to our sanctuary.
Many who rescue say we shouldn’t bail horses from kill pens because all it does is line the pockets of the kill buyers so they can buy more horses, and that’s true but true rescue, in my opinion, rescues with the heart, not with the head.
True rescue saves the old, the young, the infirm, the malnourished, the unridables, the wild ones, the fearful ones, the ones that need us most of all. When I rescue again it will most probably be from a kill pen because the horse, wherever they may be, is all that matters.
‘Who ever saves a single life, saves the world entire’