So-called Rescues and their Constant Plea for “Bail”

The Truth about Kill Pens
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When I was about six years old, I wanted a turtle. One of those tiny ones, the size of a quarter, that you bought at the five and ten. My father refused. He explained that every turtle they sold made it possible for them to buy five more. And that those turtles led terrible lives.

When I look at the brokers — Another Chance for Horses (thankfully shut down), Moore’s, or Cranbury — I see the horse equivalent to those turtles. For every one of the horses bailed from a broker (I’m not talking about going to an actual livestock auction like New Holland), you enable them to buy five more horses. Horses that you’ll probably never see because the do get sold to kill buyers, without the social media outrage. However, what makes these places so insidious is their constant drumbeat of fear. “If you don’t ‘bail’ this horse, it will go to slaughter. It will ship Saturday.” Of course that “bail” is typically three or four times more than the broker paid for it, making this a very profitable business.

Recently, I came across a post that is so similar to one that I was planning to write, The Truth About Kill Pens — Are you really saving a Life?, that I’m posting it here. The article provides a lot of well-researched facts about the brokers that may well change how you look at those horses.

Although I also look at the Facebook pages of many of the broker programs, I’m not too worried about the horses going to Canada. As of March 2017, all horses imported from the United States into horse processing plants in Canada must be held in U.S.-side feedlots for a minimum of six months. The regulation is intended to address food safety concerns expressed by European Union (EU) buyers because many of the horses had consumed drugs. No broker programs will keep horses for six months. The horses on the East Coast are unlikely to be shipped to Mexico, so most of them are going somewhere else — likely to another auction. Certainly, the ones featured on these websites. The ones being sold for $900-$1200. No broker will ship a horse that they can sell for that much.

In fact, most of the horses featured by these middle men are bought specifically to sell to consumers whipped up into a frenzy over the impending shipment. Take a look at the number of views some of these horses get on Facebook — way into the thousands. Facebook and and Forums provide a ton of free advertising. And the ones that don’t sell the first time? There are always people fundraising for them. I get at least one email a week asking for money to save the horses.

Where do these horses come from? Some are bought from breeders, some are bought privately, and many are picked up at auctions in other parts of the country. People who watch the auction sites can track the progress of a particular horse across the country. The bottom line is that if a broker is unwilling to sell it for kill prices plus $200, they will keep running it through auctions until someone buys it.

I’m not opposed to rescuing horses. There are some great horses that end up at New Holland, or similar auctions, through no fault of their own. There are also many legitimate rescues that take horses people can’t care for, help racehorses transition to new careers, or buy from auctions without the hysteria or the business proposition. If you want to rescue a horse, go to one of them. Don’t keep lining the pockets of the brokers because, like the turtles, the horses you buy from them keep the industry going.



6 thoughts on “So-called Rescues and their Constant Plea for “Bail”

  1. You know, I was just wondering about this. The idea of “Bail” started to seem very suspicious to me, full of hype, and with the ability to share on Facebook, seemed like it was taking advantage of soft-hearted people. I’m all about rescue. I picked up my horse for free from a TB rehoming place in Kentucky after he was given to them by the racing stable. But, these kill pen “bail” situations strike me as a little dramatic and fear-mongering. The simple fact is that not all horses can be saved, not all can become usable mounts, not all are all well or safe. The solution is not to have more people adopt, it’s to have less people breeding.

  2. Fear-mongering is a good description. Facebook gives these organizations extreme visibility and I’m also getting “Go Fund Me” notices from people who are fundraising to give $$ to the brokers. I few years ago, Another Chance Four Horses was raided by the FBI and charged with wire fraud, among other things. They had the fund raising down to a science, especially since many people who contributed to the bail, didn’t get a horse out of it. They got the idea of saving a horse! Ultimately investigators discovered that the horses being bailed were “saved” multiple times, but were no longer at the facility.

  3. Great post, thanks for sharing. It’s such an ugly ugly industry isn’t it. But it’s also heartening to see so many legit adoption and rehabilitation organizations too – I’m happy to have gotten my own ottb from one.

    1. Yes, I got Freedom from CANTER NE. I have only the best things to say about CANTER. It’s an all-volunteer organization where any $$ raised goes to help the horses.

  4. Excellent post, and thank you for sharing the FB link. I try to explain this to good-hearted people and it doesn’t go over well. It’s a pyramid scheme and I’m not sure it can be stopped, but getting the information out there is a good place to start.

    1. It’s very hard to explain to people who want to help that what they are doing it not helpful. I always try to direct people to reputable rescues. There are plenty of horses that need real help — but places like Cranbury have such huge social media exposure it’s hard to compete with them.

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