Suspected horse abuse at auction site has rescue groups up in arms

Billings Livestock Sale auctions thousands of horses every year. Now rescuers from across the state have come to us to tell us about what they say is a dark truth behind the sales.

According to rescuers they see abused and injured horses going through the sale regularly.

“They are supposed to deny those horses, It is against federal law to take those horses, it is against state law, and their own signs and regulations inside their own building,” said Courtney Boyer.

According to Boyer, their own sign says they do not accept injured, malnourished, or sick horses.

Video and photos given to us by Boyer shows hurt and injured horses inside pens which she says are from the Billings Livestock Sale.

The most recent case shows a horse with an infected cut to her leg. Multiple rescue groups tried to buy her, but got nowhere.

“We were told the owner came to pick it up, BLS officials were keeping an eye on it, its been checked by a vet, all of which are not true, That horse was pushed to a back pen and sat there for 6 days without any kind of treatment for her back leg,” said Angielynn Bella Dea

According to Bella Dea, there are several cases of horses with severe injuries going through the sale.

“This horse had an old infected gunshot wound to his knee and he was ran through the sale, in pain, unable to walk, and picked on and bullied by other dominant horses,” said Bella Dea.

More examples we were told about include miniature horses being picked on because they were put in pens with full sized horses, studs loose in pens with mares, and more.

Rescuers from across the state want it to stop.

“These people aren’t being held accountable for their actions and what groups like Montana against horse slaughter and other rescue organizations are trying to do is make it so these animals aren’t being allowed to suffer,” said Sandra Tomasco.

After reaching out to Billings Livestock Sale we received this statement

Billings Livestock Commission is disappointed to hear of an animal welfare complaint regarding the horse sales that take place at its facility.  Our livestock auction is committed to excellence in animal handling, and employees take the welfare of the animals in our care very seriously.  Billings Livestock Commission has a full time, accredited veterinarian on staff and our staff works closely with that veterinarian on all animal health matters..  Our animal handling issues are monitored closely and are nearly non existent. When an animal handling issue arises, as it will when handling LIVESTOCK, it is handled quickly and appropriately. You will find Billings Livestock yards to be one of the most modern, clean and well maintained yards in the industry.  Our market does not condone inappropriate treatment of livestock and never will. We will strive to continue our professional animal handling practices.

-Jann Parker, BLS Horse Sale Manager

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