April 2017 Issue - page 8

Page 8
April 2017
New Holland Auction Bans Photography, Hampering Rescues
By Amy Worden
On a Monday in early March
Kelly Smith, founder of Omega
Horse Rescue, walked through
the barns at New Holland Sales
Stables as she has for the past
27 years. On this auction day
she bought a mini stallion, two
thoroughbreds, a draft cross and
a quarter horse mare too weak to
make it to slaughter that she had
She said she could have
saved more horses – at least
one more, an American Saddle-
bred - had she been able to take
a picture of him and send it to a
Saddlebred rescue group, but she
was not allowed to do so.
Smith said she believes the
horse was loaded on a kill buyer’s
van and headed for slaughter.
The New Holland auction,
the largest livestock sale in the
East, had begun implementing
a newly-enforced “no photos or
videos” policy.
Ryan Kolb, a part-owner of
the auction, said it has had the
photo policy in place for a de-
cade, but only began enforcing it
recently because individuals were
posting videos of the entire horse
sale online.
Kolb said buyers and sellers
were complaining it was affecting
the after-auction sales prices.
“They were complaining that
their horses were on Facebook,”
said Kolb. “We don’t want to
see anyone taking pictures and
putting them online.”
He said his customers are
happier now that the policy is
being enforced. But regulars
who rescue horses from slaugh-
ter say they rely on real-time
images to save horses and
more horses will likely go to
slaughter because they can’t be
seen by the world outside the
“Anything visual captures
the emotions and the seriousness
of the situation,” said Smith.
“Donors respond to visuals.”
Between 100 and 150 horses
move through the nearly centu-
ry-old auction every Monday,
many destined for slaughter hous-
es in Canada or Mexico. Regular
sheep, goat, pig and cattle sales
are held on other days.
Descriptions Instead
Smith said no longer being
able to take photos has meant
posting descriptions on Facebook
during the sale to encourage
“Fortunately, we have a big
enough following and they trust
my judgment.” She said. “But
the ability to share photos would
save more horses.”
The policy stipulates that
anyone caught using a camera
will first be issued a warning and
if they do not comply they will be
escorted out, Kolb said.
In an interview in mid-March
Kolb said they have not yet had
to remove anyone caught with a
Smith says she is saddened
that horses will be hurt by some-
one who did not play by the rules.
Smith suggested a com-
promise: Why not pick an area,
have a photographer available to
take pictures of the horses whose
owners are comfortable with the
pictures being taken? Kolb said
for now the policy is set.
Animals Angels, a Mary-
land-based group that investi-
gates farm animal cruelty, has
conducted undercover filming of
the New Holland auctions since
2006. Their work has resulted
in three cruelty convictions. The
most recent case, ended in Jan-
uary with an auction employee,
John King, being convicted for
failing to get help for a live pig
on the so-called “dead pile” of
animals. The pig later had to be
“I am very frustrated by the
decision, it’s a step backward,”
said Sonja Meadows, founder
of Animals Angels. “Instead of
fixing the issue at hand, an animal
welfare issue, they put up signs to
restrict photography.”
Meadows, who noted that the
auction banned access to catwalks
above the auction after another
dead animal case ten years ago,
said it doesn’t make sense for any
dealers or brokers purchasing for
others not to be able to photo-
graph animals before their sale at
the auction.
“I would think it would be
detrimental to business all over
the country,” she said. “Why
expend all this energy trying to
hide when it would be beneficial
to their finances and reputation to
do the right thing?”
Meadows said photo doc-
umentation is key to cruelty
cases. “We have presented evi-
dence to the district attorney’s
office and charges are filed,” she
Dramatic pictures have led
to many rescues and cruelty
charges over the years at New
Holland. Last year images of the
paint-ball battered, aged grey
mare, Lilly, dumped at the auc-
tion were seen around the world
and resulted in her adoption by
the comedian Jon Stewart and
his wife. The individual who
transported her to the auction,
Phillip Price of Rhode Island,
was convicted of cruelty in that
In 2015 the New Holland
Sales Stables was found guilty
of two counts of animal cruelty
after an injured sheep and goat
were left overnight on a carcass
pile in subfreezing weather.
Both animals had to be eutha-
No Impact on Enforcement
Nicole Wilson, director of
humane law enforcement for the
Pennsylvania SPCA explains
that her organization relies on
witnesses to report cruelty.
While she said visual evidence
is important in animal cruelty
cases, she does not anticipate the
no-photo policy to impact her
group’s enforcement efforts.
“We have had a lot of coop-
eration from the auction. I don’t
think the policy will affect that
relationship,” she said.
Wilson said the PSPCA was
last called on a possible cruelty
case at New Holland in January
after witnesses reported a horse
collapsed and died at the auction.
A necropsy showed it had a brain
tumor so no charges were filed,
she said.
The Lancaster Newspapers,
in an editorial, slammed the
auction’s move as “the wrong
The newspaper wrote: “The
only way to make sure that
animals at the stables are being
treated humanely, all the time, is
by making the process open and
Until 2009, the PSPCA had
a humane society police officer
assigned to the horse auction but
the organization has not had the
resources to fund the position
since then. Meadows and Wilson
said having someone who knows
the cruelty law and has the
ability to humanly euthanize an
animal on site would go a long
way to improving conditions for
the hundreds of horses and other
animals who move through the
auctions at New Holland every
1,2,3,4,5,6,7 9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,...32
Powered by FlippingBook