Horse News

Owner of Cruel Horse Auction Sits Down With Equine Advocates

Update courtesy of Brandi Turner, Animals’

Animals’ Angels Make Progress at Sugarcreek Auction

Canadian Truck loaded with horses leaving Sugarcreek for slaughterhouses ~ photo courtesy of Animals' Angels

In a meeting Monday April 4th, Sugarcreek auction owner Leroy Baker agreed to make several major changes in his handling that will drastically improve the humane treatment for animals. Local law enforcement has agreed to fully uphold enforcement of humane regulations.

Animals’ Angels met with Baker and several local authorities at the Surgarcreek Police Station. The almost three-hour meeting was a direct result of public pressure from the thousands of people who flooded area agencies and businesses with calls, faxes and emails, after 4 years of investigations by Animals’ Angels’ revealed no improvements at the auction. Promising to shun contact and commercial interaction with the area, callers insisted that Sugarcreek auction’s cruelty stop. The meeting marks the first time Baker has sat down with any humane organization or agreed to do anything.

In an atmosphere that remained hostile throughout, the meeting was organized to address Animals’ Angels investigations and complaints regarding the handling of horses at the auction, overcrowded pens and the lack of veterinary care. Present at the meeting were Mayor Jeremiah Johnson, City attorney and member of the Economic Development Council Doug Frautschy, Chief of Police Kevin Kaser, Assistant Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Amanda Miller, T.C. Humane Society President Wallick and Humane Officer Steve Busch, Ohio Highway Patrol DOT Specialist SGT Wolfe, Auction Veterinarian Rick Daugherty, Auction Owner Leroy Baker, and Animals Angels Executive Director Sonja Meadows and AA Head of Operations.

In the meeting it was agreed that:

· Baker will have employees stop hitting horses in the face and poking them in the eyes · Baker will replace a specific employee who works directly behind the auction ring

· Baker will have employees immediately segregate aggressive horses

· Baker will quit having horses moved en masse to the sale ring, limiting the number of horses moved at once to 4

· County Humane Officer Busch will attend the auction on a regular basis to ensure compliance with animal protection laws and have the full support and cooperation of the Sugarcreek police

· Sugarcreek police and Officer Busch will respond immediately to cruelty complaints

Mr. Baker complained angrily several times during the meeting, claiming that animal welfare organizations had “almost bankrupted” him. Attempting to justify the way horses are handled at his auction and during transport, he claimed that it was terribly wrong that the transport of blind horses was outlawed since some blind horses would “travel better than horses that are able to see”, and that horses only got trampled because they were sick and weak to begin with, not because of the handling.

Baker admitted that he stopped shipping to Morton, TX for export to Mexico two years ago “after all the trouble” he had. Animals’ Angels investigations regarding transportation issues and Coggins documents resulted in a USDA investigation, the case is still ongoing. Shipping to Canada shortens the transport time for Sugarcreek horses from over 60 hours in transit to approx.14 hours. Information obtained from a recent FOIA request confirms Baker’s statement, as well as recent investigations by Animals’ Angels.

While the response of those at the meeting was helpful overall, Mayor Johnson seemed to find the topic of discussion and Baker’s outbreaks amusing and was observed several times giggling with the auction veterinarian. Apparently either misinformed or lacking information borne out by years of documentation, he stated in the local paper that “most of the horses [at Sugarcreek auction] are either wild or old.” His only concern appeared to be that people called a phone number that is “only for his constituents” and had asked him to make Baker pay the $172,000.00 fine he still owes the federal government.

If you would like to contact Mayor Johnson about something other than the fine, please send an email to or call him at 330-852-4112. Please refrain from calling 330-852-2271.

Alternatively, Humane Officer Busch’s contributions made the meeting more productive and enhanced the potential for positive outcomes. Though he works full-time and is paid only $500 per month as the county humane officer, he offered to take time off of his regular job every Friday in order to attend the auction, to check for compliance with animal cruelty laws and to check for Baker’s adherence to promised changes.

Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper/Commercial Vehicle Division SGT Wolfe was very interested in several issues AA investigators had observed weekly at the auction, including the large number of out-of state pick up trucks delivering horses to the auction without valid DOT numbers. Despite Baker’s explosive complaints, he agreed to increase inspections on Fridays in Sugarcreek based on our complaints.

According to Animals’ Angels Director and attorney Sonja Meadows, “If the agreed upon changes are implemented, the major problems at Sugarcreek auction will be resolved. That is a huge benefit for the animals.”

Investigators will be present at upcoming auctions to monitor for promised changes. If the agreed upon changes are not implemented, additional measures and a major campaign to elicit the cooperation of Baker and local officials is planned. “This is a very good start but promises must become actions. They are by no means ‘off the hook’,” said Meadows.

Additional Info:

The local newspaper account is a bit confusing , but it did herald that changes are due at Sugarcreek auction. The article may be viewed at

44 replies »

    • Dear Louie, I live in Ohio, and am very familiar with this auction, for several years have been trying to close this Disgusting , despicable horror Auction, run by this Leroy Baker, his cruelties along with the Amish people whom are just as cruel to these poor defenseless horses, none of them even have a halter, my God the Amish people hit them with wooden boards to move them along, There is no man on the face of this earth that is any more insidious than Leroy Baker, he not only has any regard for the horses who cross his path , but also to anyone who tries to stop him, His cruelty to the horses have been photograph, eye witnessed, and reported to the USDA since 1985, finally in 2008 they fined him $164,000.00 for his cruelties, which to date has not been paid………….It sits in Downtown Cleveland Justice Center???????? He owns this insidious auction and buys the horses him self then stuffs stallions and mares(can you imagine the battlefield in that truck) OMG !!! like sardines in a below standard trucks and does not water or feed them then trucks them to Canada for slaughter, then crosses the border without proper paperwork … The Whole town of Sugarcreek is in on this horror including all authorities……………… If you are there and address him on what is going on he will threaten you with a gun, then just try to get him arrested, of course not !!!!! I have spoken with the Mayor and all down there, there is definitely something wrong down there, he cannot be stopped no matter what you do, He refuses to pay his fine????? Why isnt he shut down and arrested someone please tell me………….


  1. It is a step in the right direction, be interesting to see how long it will last.

    Thanks to all who wrote, phoned, faxed.


  2. Every animal “enterprise” such as this ought to be subjected to unannounced outside inspections. The isolation within a system that does not implement its own regulations is pointless. I am glad to see this progress so far and hope it will not just be on paper. I made it clear what the public would want to see happen and what needs to happen in my first letter blast on March 15th. I would only hope the improvement will take place in actuality and the changes remain effective for the sake of the horses’ welfare.
    BCC: Sent: 3/16/2011 11:25:24 A.M. Mountain Daylight Time
    Subj: RE: Response email “Your Policy” Sugarcreek

    To all my contacts across the nation:

    While I appreciate the reply I received – thank you Commissioners to take the time to respond – it is once again revolting how a system supposedly put in place in different branches to deal with different issues, to govern different areas and to address different problems and violations has to once again DIG up the one who HAS authority over this mess.
    Sugarcreek is notoriously known across America as a primal chaos of abominable suffering – yet Baker happily continues to shock the nation with his profiteering, callous conduct and unacceptable outfit.
    Ohio will become a spot on the map which equine folks will identify as representing archaic and ignorant values towards decent humane animal welfare standards. Is it a wonder ? Some of the worst puppy mills are in this state.

    Please take action and contact the “new” contact. The lapse finger pointing continues. One can wonder, if the prosecutor’s office would show more interest, if it was a private person, not a “corporation”…. livestock operation…. surely those poor horses would benefit, if prosecutors were to remember their duties in a combined effort against such outrageous cruelty. If the Dept. of Agriculture in Ohio fails to address the urgency of their licensing and revoking policies such as with Sugarcreek Auction with better oversight, inspections and regular assessments, then a higher instance ought to get involved. Clearly, there exists a grave lack of concern by either the Dept. of Agriculture, or the legal jurisdiction in this area.

    This is unacceptable by all means. Amendment of existing ineffective codes and implementation of stricter enforcement to ensure the prevention of such profound violations must no longer delay, whilst horses suffer unspeakable pain and neglect at the hands of Leroy Baker.
    They must hear from us. Demand change. Then feel free to contact Ohio media to expose this – as they are the tool for public pressure. Share Sugarcreek on your facebook page. Contact the press and send notes to the tourist offices to let them know your disgust with Ohio’s stone age mentality.

    Monika Courtney, Colorado

    “Never refuse to see with your eyes, what they have to endure with their bodies”


  3. Sonja Meadows and her investigators have done an incredibly brave job here. Not only have they seen and comforted injured, dying and depressed animals – they have had the fortitude to face the job undertaken to see it through to this culmination.

    She, her investigators and this group have my undying commitment for seeing this day and working to make its dawn shine.

    Now we have to demand that transport to slaughter be ended.


  4. How about Congress get busy and pass laws outlawing the transport of U.S. horses to slaughter? Then, maybe these folks who dump their horses at auction would think twice about what they’re doing. People who dump their horses at auction, and places like Sugar Creek infuriate me.


  5. where did this jerk ever find so many workers that are such abusers? Only the low life of his area must work for him. I am so sad that ANYONE would even consider bringing their animal to this hell hole.


    • I don’t think you find people with compassion wanting to work at a horse slaughter auction for a living. Of course they get the dregs of society.


  6. Congratulations Animal Angels! Thank you so much for heroically pursuing this situation and making it better.

    Thanks, RT, for always doing such a good job reporting it…as always.


  7. I’ll believe it when I see it. Have witnessed firsthand the atrocities against the horses ~ may the perpetrators receive same! My first rescue came through Sugarcreek…I cannot save them all, but sure as hell I can be a voice for them.


  8. Looks like the giggling mayor may need a few phone calls to find out what he finds so funny about cruelty to animals. Maybe he can let us in on his inside joke.


  9. Thank you Sonja Meadows & Animals’ Angels! It took years of heartbreaking, grueling work for this meeting to take place. A thank you to those who were there supporting you and participating in helping our poor horses suffer less before the slaughter. I can only imagine your professionalism and composure. There is nothing funny about purposely torturing horses. Nothing humorous about blind, ill, weak, trampled horses. The giggling, cruel Mayor and auction vet would have had my rage start from the toes on up…but stop at the mouth:) Baker was enough of a time-bomb to keep the discussion under civil control, progressing and profitable, with a good outcome for the horses. This was a major breakthrough for the horses…and those who truck horses across state lines. Congratulations Sonja! Pray this new humane treatment at auction houses spreads. Bless YOU ❤


  10. We need a new anti-slaughter bill. Since HR 503 slipped away it seems, it has to start all over. It is a shame. Thanks to the eyes of Animals Angels we know where we need to keep the pressure on. I feel that doing just that is essential to ensure this campaign will have a permanent effect. There are so many other auctions that are just as horrendous – they shouldn’t exist. We need to keep fighting and keep the pressure on against horse slaughter, educate people on it and tell them about Katia Louise’s film. She received high praise. Check it out, it is fantastic.


  11. Arlene, you really have been out there fighting–WAY TO GO! DO BE CAREFUL! People such as the ones that we are seeing do not appear to have any ability to control themselves. They are as dangerous to their own species as they are to the other living beings on the planet.


  12. 2 years I did get thought an animal warden there, she tried to help , but was fired !!!!!! There is much more to Sugarcreek Auction then meets the eye……….. She begged him not to load a horse with a broken leg , he shot the horse right there……………..It is Corruption personified…………….


  13. Ohio:Horses continue to die at Sugarcreek Auction
    March 15, 2011 by ppjg

    Please contact:
    Sugarcreek Mayor
    Jeremiah Johnson
    Phone: 330-852-2271
    Tuscarawas County Visitors Bureau
    124 East high Avenue
    New Philadelphia, OH 44663
    Phone: 330-602-2420
    Fax: 330-602-2433
    County Commissions of Tuscarawas
    Chris Abbuhl
    Kerry Metzger
    Jim Sheldenright
    125 East High Avenue
    New Philadelphia, OH 44663
    Phone: 330-365-3240
    Fax: 330-602-7483
    Sugarcreek Police
    Chief Kazzar
    202 Fairview Rd
    Sugarcreek, OH 44681
    Tuscarawas County Humane Society
    6895 Dover-Zoar Rd
    Dover, OH 44622
    Tuscarawas Chamber of Commerce
    1323 4th Street NW
    New Philadelphia, OH 44663
    Don Hoffman (Iterim President/CEO)
    Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board
    8995 East Main Street
    Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
    James Zehringer (Chairman of the Board)
    Ohio Department of Agriculture
    Dr. Tony Forshey (State Veterinarian)
    Phone: 614-728-6220
    State Representatives
    Ohio Senate
    State Senator Joe Schiavoni, D. (33rd District)
    Senate Building, 1 Capitol Square, Ground Floor
    Columbus,OH 43215
    Phone: 614-466-8285
    State Senator Jason Wilson, D. (30th District)
    Senate Building, 1 Capitol Square, Ground Floor
    Columbus,OH 43215
    Phone: 614-466-6508
    Ohio House
    State Rep. Al Landis, R. (96th District)
    77 S High Street, 11th Floor
    Columbus, OH 43215
    Phone: 614-719-6996


  14. Animals Angels would like to say Thank You to all who sent in letters, made phone calls, and sent emails. This is a very closed society in this town, they do not like outsiders who meddle in their business, but Sonja Meadows was able to finally break through and with the changes it will make it easier and less stressfull for the animals that are sold through this auction.
    This auction will be monitored by Animals Angels to make sure that the changes are made and they will be followed.


  15. Leroy baker will need all the monitoring you guys can muster, he is a low life man with no ethics , no morals and certainly no regard for anything that is alive…….Please believe me I know……………………………His interactions with anything are below any standard……………………………He is a Monster amongst men………………..And a shame to mankind…………..


  16. Leroy Baker…….The mere mention of his name makes my blood run cold, his is a menace to society…………….. And should be removed from it.. He is The ultimate of evil………………………….


    • Baker is a terrible excuse of a human, but there are so many that are just like him. In almost every state, we have one who can and does rival him.
      The monitoring will be weekly, he is not aware of who will be there, so changes will take place, or further actions will be taken. Sonja Meadows is a very strong and tuff person, and she is determined to see that these changes are followed. Animals Angels has worked for 4 years, and this breakthrough might be small but it is a step forward for this auction.


  17. Thank You Brandi, I am so hoping that Sonja is as tuff as you say she is , she will need to be, There may be other evil people, but this one is the most evil I have ever encountered……….. Like i said in his presence your Blood will run cold……………..He reaks with the smells of death…………………..


    • There are quite a few that I have met. Here in Colorado, he is evil through and through, then he has several goons that adore him. He is sick and has no compassion for anything, he has been seen around the west everywhere, he will also be brought down at some point. He does not own an auction, but he does have big contracts for slaughter horses.


  18. These people are too many, what interests me is , through their cruelties how in the name of all that is good, do they get away with it, if they are in fact what we know they are , they must be guilty of so many other horrors for which they can be removed legally , i am betting that this is true…………..some investigations would reveal that I am sure…………………………..


  19. The only way that I have been able to rationalize this kind of blatant disrespect for the law is that they are above it. Baker has been above it for so long he is considered a pillar of society, others are the same way. Most of the people who attend auctions here, are very friendly with the kill buyers, and they do not want outsiders in at these slaughter auctions. It is sad when abuse and cruelty are what makes these people above the law, what has our society come to when we can and do allow this kind of behavior.


    • Baker sounds like the BLM personified. I can’t imagine why the “auction Vets” would not take action to help the horses. Are they real Vets who take an Oath, or just people that were hired to do nothing???


  20. They are vets, but they do nothing. Until this meeting, it was hard to locate a vet at this auction. There are numerous other auctions that have not vet, no humane officer and they are allowed to continue in operation. It is sad that the authorities can not or will not help animals that are sold through auctions.


    • Brandi, there is also to be a rep from USDA there, just try and find one of those there ??????? \non exsistant………. This man is allowed free rein???????/ I think this deals with suprime corruption……………..What i would like to know is there is no way this auction under any law this auction should be in operation??????? I have been speaking to all the USDA, ,Sugarcreek athorities, I was given the run around from 2007 to 2009 by all i contacted in reference to Sugarcreek auction……….There is much much more going on there believe me………………


  21. Dear War horse thank You , You are so Awesome, This place is a horror for any animal who goes there, God it is pitiful there, I cannot even go there anymore , I am afraid THAT HE WILL PROVOKE ME INTO SOMETHING, he tries those kind of tactics on anyone that opposes him , he is sly and cunning……………….. He screams at you like he is the devil reincarnate…………(there is a lot of turth to that I think he is the Devil master of Evil…………………….)


  22. Arlene, at this time, we have gotten a few changes. As you know he being the pillar of society that he is, he can and does run roughshod over people, all people. He tried that during the meeting also, but Sonja is a very cool head, she is nothing but profession in dealing with all types of people, she is very cool under pressure. When I was there, I was not so cool. I had to learn how she handles all situations so I spent some time with her back east, so that I would know how to handle the situations that I encounter here in the west.
    For those who have asked, we have several different people who will attend the auction every week to make sure that the changes are made and followed. Since this is one step in the right direction we have to take it and then continue to try to move forward with other changes.
    The kill buyers that I come int contact with are pure evil also, and I know in my heart that this will end, but when I do not know. The more information we can get, the more violations we can levy against them. We must find there weakness and then exploit that to remove them from business.
    Thank you all for your support of Animals Anges work, we will continue to get the information out to you, so all of us can work together for more changes at auctions around this country.


  23. Thank You Brandi, this man is going to be hard to handle all the way, all will have to be on their toes, and he will try everything to elude you !!!! He is the Master of it…………..He is mean , underhanded and unscrupulous, he has no conscience , no morals, please remember this in all your dealings with him……………………Remember he makes boo-cue dollars on the Slaughter of these beautiful animals and he is not about to give that up under any circumstances, be cautious, and extremely aware…..Do not give an inch with him………………….


  24. I have been told by someone that Baker said ” that there is no money in any other livestock”, so Baker continues with the horses,This is a sad commentary on our society that animals not raised for a food product will bring in more money than all of the other types of livestock.
    We are aware of his hatred for people who would try to aid the animals forced through his auction, but as of now it is on record that changes must be made, and followed through.
    As we start this new journey with him, all rules will be followed per the letter of the law, and Animals Angels will be there to make sure.
    One step forward with more to come for this auction and then on to others across this country, until all will follow the law and treat animals with the respect that they deserve.


  25. When he is closed down forever, the horses will breathe a sign of relief, whomever deals with this man will gain a wealth of knowledge, and will be ready to tackle the rest of these poor excuses for human beings…………….I wish I could be that one………………..I do wish for him that all the horses he has sinfully tortured and abused , murdered and maimed will haunt him for the rest of his days……………..


  26. That is the prayer that I say everyday, not just for Baker but for all that do any harm to horses, wild or domestic.


    “What have you done?” God will say, on Judgement day, on Judgement day. “What have you done to fur and bone? What have you done to my own, my own? I gave them sight. You took it away. What have you done?” God will say. “Slowly in pain, you made them die. I heard them cry, I heard them cry. Oh, did you not see the beauty and grace? That you did deface, that you did deface. Or did you not know, or did you not care, that like you, like you, they felt pain and fear? They responded to love, they responded to life, but you cut them up with a knife, with a knife.” “What have you done,” God will say on Judgement day, on Judgement day. ~author unknown

    This I think says it all, and I hope that my questions will be so different.


  27. Thank You Brandi , it does say it all””””””””””””””’Please procede with caution with Leroy Baker,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


  28. Those in Ohio will heed your advise when checking on Baker and Sugarcreek. I have only been to Sugarcreek once in January, I was there to see how Sonja handled situations at different auctions and feedlots. Here is a letter that I did explaining myself:!/notes/animals-angels-usa/impressions-of-a-volunteer-for-animals-angels/205989336079749

    I work for AA in the west where the auction process is not quite as cruel as Sugarcreek, but in the end it is all the same.


  29. Thank You again Brandi, now i know you know what you are up against…………….I am hoping with all my heart you can stop this MONSTER………….


  30. Again, thank you Arlene. I have never exerienced such horror in my life, and we will fight to make it end one auction at a time if that is what it takes.

    Thank you for supporting us!


  31. I found this auction house’s Facebook page recently, and nothing has changed. Sure, some of the pictures on there show nice looking horses, but that’s just an illusion to hide what the holding pens look like. Just talk to the people who have been there, the people who DON’T support the auctions. They’ll all say the same thing: Sugarcreek is pure hell. I owned a horse that was rescued from there by Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue. I have pictures of him and his stablemate from the rescue in the Sugarcreek holding pens. They’re all still stuffed and crowded in there. In the pictures I have, the horse I got was severely underweight and there were signs of obvious abuse there; and they affected his behavior when we adopted him. It was clear both in the photos and in his behavior that he had at one point in time there been repeatedly beaten around his head and face. He also has no eyelashes, which may or may not have been caused by humans (although I don’t know how a horse would be able to remove eyelashes without blinding him). We suspect that they might’ve been pulled out or somehow burned off (or maybe worse). Although we got him in 2007, when things were supposed to be different, I’ve heard from various people buying and rescuing horses from there that conditions are no different today. It’s sad, honestly.


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