Horror in Montana 

December 2017 
Investigators once again document unspeakable suffering at Billings Auction

Animals at auction often endure horrific conditions, none more so than "spent" dairy cows and non-ambulatory cattle. Our investigations at the Escalon Auction in California have shown over and over the inhumane, and frankly, atrocious treatment that cattle face at the hands of auction employees.  These poor creatures are callously shocked with electric prods if they can't walk, in a vicious attempt to get them to move. When this doesn't work, they are brutally pushed by forklift, hauled by rope, or dragged by chains. Many times, the sick or injured animal dies before the auction can be concluded - left all alone, laying on the asphalt of a parking lot or in a manure filled back pen, languishing in pain from its injuries.

Sadly, auctions like Escalon exist all across the country - and our latest investigation in Billings, Montana highlighted this gruesome reality

bull found suffering at Billings Livestock Auction

One of the main slaughter horse sales in the country, Billings Livestock Commission also deals in cattle, sheep, and other farm animals. Our investigations have shown that the condition and treatment of the animals at this auction, across the board, are routinely poor. Although we have reported violations on numerous occasions, no enforcement action has ever been taken. Following our recent investigation, we are once again disappointed by the lackadaisical attitude of law enforcement to the abject cruelty needlessly inflicted upon a living, breathing creature where humane euthanasia was plainly warranted.

During our visit on October 28th, investigators found a large, Angus bull left in a pen all by himself, laying absolutely motionless and drooling - clearly in severe distress.  Although auction employees passed by the pen many times, no-one paid any attention to the struggling animal - and not one worker thought it important enough to get help or veterinary care. It was as if the bull was invisible or simply not worthy of their time. 

bull being moved in jaws of bobcat

While the obvious indifference displayed by the auction came as no big surprise, investigators were stunned when the bull was later moved - in the grapple jaws of a bobcat - to a more remote area of the auction property. Obviously still alive and alert, the pain and fear from being manhandled in such a brutal way must have been intense. Utterly appalled at the way they moved him, our investigators were still almost relieved - thinking that surely, the auction planned on euthanizing the animal.

However, that was not the case. Unceremoniously dumped next to a manure pile, the bull's misery was not yet over. A truck carrying a tank with an unknown liquid was seen pulling up next to the bull and once it left, the bull's face and the ground surrounding his head were clearly doused with a wet substance. 

Although it was unclear what had been done to the bull, the results were unmistakable: no longer alert, the bull's eyes were bloodshot and had rolled backwards into his head. His breathing was labored, and his legs were jerking sporadically as his body appeared to spasm and rear up - he was in obvious agony. 

Having called the police to get help in ending the bull's pain and suffering, we were met with an indifference that equaled that of the auction's. Refusing to take immediate action or even considering initiating charges against the auction, the responding officer instead sympathized with the auction , apparently having "grown up on a cattle farm." 

We were horrified when the bull was not euthanized on the spot - despite the urgency of the situation and pleading from our investigators, and instead was left to suffer as the police officer, apparently completely unconcerned with the bull's condition and the terrible pain under which he clearly still struggled, chose to "go and talk with someone," presumably at the auction's office. 

despite pleading with the officer, no immediate action was taken

Unable to return to the bull's location since auction employees had evidently been alerted to the situation, and left without any update at all from the officer, we can only hope the bull was ultimately put out of his misery through humane euthanasia. 

Surprisingly, even after the fact, pertinent information as to the bull's demise was certainly not forthcoming from the responding officer or the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office. The incident report provided upon our request was completely redacted - even going so far as to remove the circumstances of the complaint itself. In fact, we were denied any and all information as to the incident, action taken, and follow-up (if any was even taken) by the sheriff's office.

You can read our full investigation here.


Failed by the people in charge of his care - indeed those who held his very life in their hands, and then failed again by the enforcement agency responsible for oversight, this poor bull was doomed. We cannot - and will not - fail the animals unlucky enough to find themselves following in his footsteps at this auction. Nor will we allow these heartless individuals to get away with their cruel behavior

Equally as important, we must hold law enforcement accountable for their lack of action ... action which would have greatly, and immediately, eased this animal's suffering ... action which would have held these individuals accountable and sent a clear message that such conduct against a sentient being would not be tolerated. 

bull after being dumped and receiving unknown treatment

However, we need your help! With your support, we can pursue the legal means to hold the auction accountable and protect other animals from a similarly tragic fate.   By retaining the services of an animal welfare attorney to work with us on this case, we will be able to present a compelling legal argument against the Billings Livestock Commission and their auction management ... and press authorities to take action.

No animal should suffer such heinous, inhumane treatment. By donating to our legal fund today, you can give not just this bull, but all mistreated animals, their "day in court." 

The power is in YOUR hands ... please help us bring about this new day for the animals - help us get justice. 

is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, so ALL donations are tax deductible. 

sonja inspecting trailer

Your support is crucial to continue the fight against animal cruelty.   Animals' Angels counts on you!  Help us be there for the animals.

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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