A Rocky Road for Horses in the Smoky Mountain State

Tennessee has become a popular haven for horse kill buyers and slaughter auctions
Tennessee may be best known for music and barbeque, but among animal welfare advocates, it has a much darker reputation: Tennessee's animal protection laws regarding horses and farm animals are among the worst in the nation. Unfortunately, this has allowed key players in the horse slaughter industry to flourish, and multiple kill buyers and horse traders have made the state their home base.
But hope is not lost-for the horses or the people that seek their protection. With our long history exposing the illegal and unethical actions of kill buyers and traders, Animals' Angels is well aware of who is taking advantage of Tennessee's loose laws. 

Thanks to the generous support of our supporters, we have targeted numerous locations in the state, and we will continue to document their abuses and broadcast their crimes. Recent Animals' Angels investigations have exposed many of Tennessee's bad actors, including:
Jason Sexton, Sexton Horse & Mule: This long-term kill buyer has increased his business significantly over the past few years. Sexton not only operates the local auction in Sneedville, but he also runs the "Sexton Kill Pen - TN Slaughter Bound Horses" broker program via Facebook and ships roughly 150 horses to Mexico each month through Raul Benavides's export pen in Eagle Pass, TX. The horses that end up in Sexton's shipments are often linked to other well-known kill buyers/horse traders, like Brian Moore, Bruce Rotz, Jack Darling and David Merrell. Darling made the news in 2017 for his involvement in the sale of an ex-race horse whose lip tattoo had been burned off to conceal his identity.

Sadly, Sexton uses his Facebook broker site to scam kind-hearted people who believe that, by purchasing one of the kill pen's horses, they are saving animals from death. In reality, the opposite is true - these generous buyers and their purchases are further enriching his operation, allowing him to acquire and ship even more horses to slaughter.
Jason Bailey, Knoxville Livestock Auction: The Knoxville Livestock Center operates one of the largest horse auctions in the Southeast. Animals' Angels has conducted several investigations at this sale, in part because numerous local community members have contacted us about the poor treatment of horses, and we continue to uncover disturbing behaviors by management and staff.  

Our investigations have exposed the Knoxville Livestock Center's packed horse pens, filled with more than 200 stressed and fighting horses. In many of these pens, the horses have no access to water or fans that could provide relief from the heat. Investigators documented horses that are severely emaciated, have obvious injuries, eye or strangles infections, open sores, overgrown hooves, and more. Perhaps most disturbingly, all of these animals were "cleared for sale" by the auction veterinarian, and none were treated for their ailments.  
According to public documents, Bailey ships approximately 130 horses to Mexico for slaughter every month. Last spring, Animals' Angels released Platinum Ticket's Final Ride, a powerful documentary of one such horse, a prized race horse who ultimately found himself dumped at the Knoxville Livestock Auction with a bullet in his head. His owners kept him and two other horses in horrific condition at the auction for two weeks, never providing any veterinary care.

The Stanley Brothers, Tennessee Ship Pen: These notorious kingpins of the slaughter industry ship hundreds of horses to Mexico each month, under heinous conditions. The brothers have racked up approx. $40,000 in fines for numerous violations of the Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Regulations; 19 of their horses were killed in March 2017 when an over-crowded livestock truck flipped on the highway; and a 2016 video surfaced that revealed Boots Stanley abusing and killing a dog, before also beating a man who tried to inquire about the incident. During our investigation at their Tennessee pen, our staff have documented barren pens, severely emaciated horses and donkeys, and dirty water troughs.
The Stanley Brothers are a case study in the inhumane treatment of horses within the slaughter industry-but they are also an example of the influence of public outcry. After Animals' Angels exposed their TN kill pen in May 2018, there were significant changes made to the facilities. On our most recent visit, no injured or starving horses were visible to our investigators, and the horses were able to graze in an open field. We can't be sure the improvements are permanent-or whether sick horses were relocated to an inaccessible location-but the changes are still a testament to the power of our community. 

Terry Blair, Terry Blair Livestock and Horse Sales: Blair's livestock facility is a small, rundown auction that caters to kill buyers. Blair provides horses to larger operations, who then ship the animals to Mexico for slaughter. During our inspections of Blair's facilities, we have documented low-quality hay, desolate fields, thick mud, and broken barbed wire fencing that poses serious risk of injury to the animals. Recent information obtained by Animals' Angels shows that Blair has significantly increased his activity and is now shipping to the Raul Benavides export pen on the Mexican border himself.  
Exposing the truth and creating lasting change
Tennessee has become a safe haven for dangerous practices, rampant abuses, and complete disregard for horse's wellbeing. But Animals' Angels - with our passionate supporters and advocates - are conducting undercover investigations, documenting criminal activities, and finally holding these individuals and organizations accountable. We are committed to exposing the truth and creating lasting change, but we can only do so by leveraging the full strength of our community.

Please consider making a contribution today to provide the resources necessary for us to continue sending our investigators to Tennessee and other kill pens & slaughter auctions across the country. With your support, we will increase the public understanding of these heinous activities, change consumer behavior, demand more legal protections for horses, and seek criminal penalties for their abusers. Together, we can finally put an end to the exploitation and neglect of these gentle creatures.


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Animals' Angels works to improve the conditions for farm animals and horses all over the country. 
Our investigators are out in the field nationwide, visiting auctions, kill pens, feedlots and slaughter plants to uncover the cruelty and abuse that animals all too often face each and every day.
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