Animals' Angels investigators were outraged by the horrifying conditions uncovered at the Bar S Feedlot during a 2-day investigation in the small town of Shelby, Montana. Bar S is the main feedlot for
, which is the
largest importer of US horses for slaughter
Late October temperatures hovered below freezing when our team arrived in Shelby to check on the condition of the approximately 1,000 horses kept at the lot. The first heavy snow of the season had left
standing water over much of the ground, and investigators were distressed to see that the ground in the pens was extremely muddy, and that some of the
horses were forced to stand in knee-high water.
Investigators discovered bones in the back of the pen area and noticed
grey wolves feeding in the brush on the first day, and coyotes roaming close by on the next day, suggesting the hungry predators were able to find easy prey and carcasses in the feedlot. The proximity of these wild animals presented a clear danger but
didn't stop our determined investigators from continuing their mission.
As our team observed the feedlot operations, they were shocked to witness the cold-blooded
killing of several horses. A female feedlot worker checked on the horses in several pens and proceeded to use a 22-caliber rifle to shoot three horses in the head without hesitation. She did
not stop to check corneal reflexes to ensure that the animals were in fact dead, but instead just walked away without concern for the poor animals' potential suffering.
Animals' Angels investigators watching the atrocity through their camera lens could see that one of the horses that had been shot by the worker
did not immediately quit breathing. They could also see
several more horses lying dead in the mud of the pens. Two of the workers soon arrived to dig out the dead bodies, using a front loader with a pitchfork attachment to pick up two of the horses. One of the bodies
was submerged so deeply in the mud that the worker had difficulty dislodging it. Once he succeeded, the horses were quickly disposed of in a dumpster at the front of the lot.
Front loader removing dead horse
They then proceeded to use a
skid loader to retrieve the remaining two dead horses from the other pen, which was full of live horses. The ruthless worker did not clear out the live animals first, but instead
drove through the agitated horses who were frantically trying to escape the heavy equipment. Needless to say, our investigators were appalled by this blatant disregard for the animals' safety & well-being.
During the 2-day investigation our team witnessed a whole range of cruel and poor conditions, and made note of the following:
- Several mares with foals were mixed in together with other adult horses inside the pen area.
- A stallion was kept in the same pen as several mares instead of being segregated. This caused fighting and kicking within the pen.
- Workers on a truck forced a large group of horses into a pen using white flags, and were observed hitting the horses across the face, adding to the animals' agitation.
- One horse had extremely long, overgrown hooves. The hooves were so long that the poor animal was barely able to walk.
- The muddy conditions throughout the pens were agonizing, with mares and their foals standing motionless because they had no dry spot to rest on, and several horses visibly struggling to make their way through the mud.
Skid loader driving through horses
As the investigation came to an end, our team watched a group of horses being loaded onto a white Canadian truck with a single deck trailer. The horses were soon on their way to slaughter in Canada, and our investigators left to report their horrific findings to the relevant authorities.