Pax's Story--Eyewitness to a Real Kill Pen
(editor's note: I am posting this story here with permission of the person who originally posted this on an anti-slaughter list. "M" tells this story so people know the truth about what the "kill pen" is like--a harrowing last stop before slaughter. Although I'm sure M wouldn't mind me using her name, I'm going to simply initials to represent her and the other people in the posting.)
"This is the account, as told to me by K., of how Pax was rescued from slaughter, or death by disease and malnourishment from spending 3 weeks in a kill-pen:
K's friend wanted to rescue a Belgian draft horse from N.'s slaughter pens in Unidilla NY. These are pens that temporarily confine horses who are slated to be hauled to Quebec, Canada where they will be slaughtered for meat. K. agreed to accompany her friend for she has MS and cannot drive. They made the 150 mile one-way journey to buy the Belgian from N. who will sell his horses if anyone will offer him a figure higher than what he paid for them at auction. While in the pens, K. was followed by a little mare who continually nickered at her as if asking for help.
In the meantime, K. was also drawn to Pax who appeared so sickly and weak. He was covered with sores from bites perpetrated on him from the other frantic and frightened horses. There is so little food given them; just enough to keep them alive until they are shipped to slaughter. Since Pax is an omega, he bore his bites and backed off, not willing to participate in the contest for food. Meanwhile, these horses have only muddy water to drink and are standing in mud up to their knees and beyond. K. said the mud is littered with cast off horse shoes, wire, huge chunks of iron and all manner of refuse.
K. walked over to Pax and observed exudate coming from his nostrils and considerable amounts of water came from his mouth when he coughed. She deduced he might have "strangles." She and her friend purchased the Belgian and mare from B.N.
and hauled them home on a Friday. K. named the mare Grace after "Amazing Grace." For three nights, K. could not sleep thinking about Pax.
On Monday, she asked her friend if she would accompany her to the slaughter pen to get Pax. They made the trip again only to discover they could not find him because about 70 more horses had been admitted to the kill-pen. One that stood out the most, according to K., was a Thoroughbred race horse who was in extreme panic and bewilderment having been pampered in off-track stables. Now he was standing in muddy debris with no food and only muddy water. K. said other horses had broken legs and eyes dangling from their sockets (probably injured during shipping). God have mercy! K. said she could not find Pax in this sea of horses. After a length of time, her friend found Pax remembering he was wearing a red nylon halter. They loaded him in their trailer and went to find N. to pay him for Pax.
N. came out to see Pax loaded in their trailer and said he would not pay a dime for this sick and skinny horse. HE THOUGHT THEY WERE THERE TO SELL PAX TO HIM!!! So, off they went with Pax....such a deal! On the way back to K.'s home, her friend called their vet to have Pax humanely euthanized since the clinic was located on their route back home. K. had second thoughts on the way home and said to her friend that first (before euthanizing him), she would like to give him a chance to live. K. gave him bran mash, good sweet feed, all the hay he could eat, and had her equine vet treat him on several occasions.
In time, Pax gained weight, his bites healed, he no longer coughed water or had nostril discharge. He bounced back to a healthy horse.
Pax was driven very hard by the Amish during his young life. K. said he was known as a "boy's horse".....that Pax had lots of "snap." She also learned that Pax, alone, pulled a STEEL wagon loaded with all the members of an Amish family - and, of course, on pavement. Pax's mouth was sorely abused by an unsuitable bit...he is poorly shod by two homemade Amish shoes on his front feet - the rear shoes have been lost. My farrier will be pulling his shoes and accessing Pax's present needs for proper shoes or preferably letting him go barefoot.
Despite Pax's hard 8 years, he does not kick or bite. He even let K.'s goat steal his feed (she has corrected that). He has excellent ground manners, but may now feel threatened at the sight of a harness. All in good time...he needs to learn there are humans who love him. This will be his last stop.
Now I think due to discovering Pax's neck freeze brand tattoo, that he was an unqualified trotter harness horse. He was either auctioned off due to lack of speed or due to his windgalls. I think he was auctioned off due to lack of speed for the Amish would not have bought an unsound horse. I think they purchased him at a STBD auction and he developed windgalls from their hard use of him, then sent him onto auction. Pax has no doubt been in several auction pens...the last being the worst.
Thank God for K. who knew a sweetheart when she saw one. If only he could talk to me...but I am not really sure I want to hear his story...he has endured so much rejection and still he comes to me with a nicker."