Horse News

Animals’ Angels: Dennis Chavez Slaughter Horse Feedlot in New Mexico

Information supplied by Animals’

Kill Buyer Cruelty Runs Rampant

A Note from Sonja:

Six years of cruelty investigations have made it absolutely clear: Horse slaughter means a free pass, in effect, kill buyer amnesty for abuse, neglect and animal cruelty. But never has one single location screamed horse slaughter‘s cruelty more than at our March 10 investigation. Horse after horse after horse – yet completely typical of what goes on unabated in the slaughter pipeline. No feeling person could help but be heartbroken, and very angry.

But this investigation showed that obviously there are unfeeling, remorseless people with no empathy for these animals in their suffering. I do not wonder that ‘ag’ gag’ laws are being promoted in state after state. Though it is difficult to imagine how much worse it could be, without pictures and documentation to tell the damning tale, animals would undoubtedly suffer even more at the hands of such people.

But it also needs your help–to say we care, it matters, and pressure authorities to make this matter to them. The suffering of these horses was not useless if we make a difference for better treatment for others to come, and punish those responsible. Please support our call for action at the bottom of the article. Your voices have made a difference before; please make a difference now.

The Feedlot:

Investigators knew the history of kill buyer Dennis Chavez beforehand:

  • major kill buyer, shipped 10,000 horses to slaughter last year
  • repeatedly cited for violations to equine to slaughter regulations
  • frequent complaints received by AA about Chavez’s operation, all referencing significant abuse, neglect and animals suffering with no vet care or obviously necessary euthanasia

But it was not enough to prepare investigators for what they found. AA investigators arrived at Chavez’s Southwest Auction & Feedlot on March 10th for the auction’s quarterly horse sale. ‘Summit of the Horse’ flyers were plastered everywhere.

After a walk-thru of the auction house pens, investigators noted a vast empty pen area, and behind this additional pens. Back here they find approximately 700 horses. Almost all are extremely thin with body scores well below 2. Many have serious injuries.

“I’ve never seen horses like that,” said one of the investigators. “Suffering was bad, busted up faces, even body scores of 1or less, and the injuries and wounds. There was so much.”

In one of the first of the back pens, all are geldings and stallions that appeared to be recently gelded. Ungelded horses are rejected at the border because Mexican slaughter plants do not accept stallions. Dried blood covers the back legs, penises are extremely swollen and the horses stand motionless with heads down. One horse’s penis is grotesquely swollen, strangulated looking, as if something has been wound tightly around it several times.

In the next pen an emaciated mare barely able to stand, sniffs a recently aborted dead foal, remaining near it the entire time investigators are present. There are several thin to emaciated thoroughbreds, one with a body score 1 and teeth so overgrown they protrude out of his mouth and probably prevent him from eating. “He was just so thin and weak standing in the corner alone, you knew he was about to go down,” said the investigator.

In the next pen a beautiful palomino stood quietly with blood dripping from her eye. But then there was the emaciated grey horse nearby with both eyes destroyed. He stayed close to a chestnut ‘seeing’ companion. Marked with a large ‘X,’ he wore a slaughter tag. Investigators believed he was rejected at the export pens. Since last year’s EU Report mentioning horses rejected at the border, AA has found that nothing is done for these distressed horses, that no one takes any responsibility or tracks them. Yet horses arriving in conditions that qualify as animal cruelty or in violation of Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Regulations should be reported by pen operators to APHIS and local authorities. As AA said last year, “To run a cover up for offenders is intolerable.

Whatever the cause of his scarred and blinded condition, this horse has been dealt with harshly, yet even then he licked the investigator’s hand.

In the last pen, 4 horses were down. The grey mare had a body score less than 1 and a large bleeding wound. It appeared the injury was from bone on ground impact as she kept trying to get up and falling. She had made trenches from repeated attempts to rise, lying flat for a while and then trying again. Her will to live and her complete betrayal were terrible to see.

Next to her was a horribly thin palomino mare with her back legs tangled in hay baling twine, barely moving her front legs. On the other side of the pen was a light bay/buckskin mare that did not move at all. When investigators approached her ears moved. She looked at them with the whites of her eyes showing, afraid. Her body score may have been 1.

The last of the 4 dying horses was a light grey mare, emaciated, her tongue was hanging out and she was biting it. She appeared to be in great distress and physical pain, her legs moving.

Investigators observed from a distance to see if auction staff, the vet, or the livestock inspector would come. After a long hour, nothing.

AA investigators then spoke with Mrs. Chavez in the auction office, who to her credit called the auction vet. Though investigators had been told Dr. Brasmer was present at the auction, no one was ever able to reach him .

Eventually livestock manager BJ Winchester came in and reluctantly began to walk very slowly to the back pens with the investigators. He was quick to defend Chavez, calling the horses ‘rescues,’ that Chavez was trying to ‘nurture them back to health,’ and that he was giving them, ‘a chance to live.’ He confirmed that the horses are Chavez’s property.

Winchester became angry when investigators continued to insist that the suffering and dying horses should be euthanized. ‘Nothing will be done right away,’ he said. He asked if they were ‘animal rights’ and asserted he would not interrupt the auction. When they finally got to the last pen, the grey mare that was in so much distress had died. Vultures had already landed near her. Winchester had no reaction.

The impasse was broken when an auction worker arrived saying he could put the horses down right away. The ‘inspector’ no longer had a say and the horses were euthanized.

The rest of the horses in all kinds of terrible conditions will get no help, not from Winchester or the vet that no one can find.

In New Mexico the livestock inspector is supposed to inspect and enforce cruelty laws. In itself this seems an unworkable and inadequate premise, made even clearer by BJ Winchester. It is difficult to imagine what it would take for him to file cruelty charges.The NM Livestock Board is appointed by the governor, 9 people representing livestock industry interests. These 9 also hire the inspectors who are charged with enforcing laws for livestock.

AA has sent all evidence by certified mail and has not received any response yet.

Watch the video…(Warning: Images are graphic and might be disturbing to some viewers)

Read the full length report…

49 replies »

  1. I lived in NM for nearly 7 years. Didn’t know this existed. Is there anything further we can do from where we live now??? I have purchased three acres and adopted two senior mares, they make my days happier.


    • Sue, often the State Police are better than local or Federal law enforcement when it come to animal abuse. In NM, there is a new anti-animal cruelty task force. The people of NM need to flood this line.
      (quoted) Animal Cruelty Taskforce Opens new Hotline

      ALBUQUERQUE—Attorney General Gary King, who chairs the newly formed Animal Cruelty Taskforce (ACT), says the new ACT Hotline is up and taking calls. The New Mexico toll-free, 24-hour hotline’s purpose is to take information about animal fighting and extreme cruelty to animals. The number is accessible from anywhere in the state at 888-260-2178.

      “People who abuse animals in New Mexico will be prosecuted,” says the Attorney General. “This new hotline gives the public and law enforcement another tool as we work together to ensure compliance with animal protection laws.”

      More about that taskforce here>


    • What Dennis Chavez death ranch did to those suffering dying poor horses is the lowest of low. They wanted to help the horses, to get on the meat wagon and they could make their $$ per pound. Those dying horses were suffering and they did not care. The other horrible torture was to the stallions getting cut up because they don’t take stallions in Mexico. It is horrible treatment and is so wrong. Is this the United States of America or some dirty third world country. The question in my heart is that this is turning into a dirty country that doesn’t give 2 shits about anything but money and greed.


  2. All in the name of making money – these cruel people will finally be judged and found VERY wanting. I cannot believe that this is allowed.


  3. I can’t believe that this video is not enough to send these damn men to jail. What does it take????To see these poor horses too weak to rise and others too hurt to go down is incredible. I know sending money helps and I do. What what stronger action is there. New Mexico is known for itscruelty to horses. Look at the race horse scandal. Eight horses start a race and only one finishes??? The governor should be made to go see this slaughter pen WITH REPORTERS and then asked what action he will take NOW!


    • seems to me the entire “race horse” program needs to be stopped, unless there is a system put in place that is u breed these horses for the sole reason is to race then u have a responsibility to make sure that u are 100 percent responsible to that horse till they die.I used to love horse racing,i love horses, how ever after i found out how many of their horses end up as “dog food” or worse, people food, i was sick!!!they are throw away animals to most of the breeders, and if they dont make money racing ,they are gotten rid of, with no though to where they will end up, I know not all TB breeders are like this, however, there most be way too many cuz so many end up at feed lots or taken in when they are left to die,cuz they are not gonna take care of a horse that makes no money,point blank.It sickens me !!


  4. VILE and DISGUSTING! We need to post links to FB pages, Email folks, and officials… make more public outcry.. TERRIBLE!


  5. This is so horrible… hard to read about, don’t think I can watch the video. I cannot believe this is allowed either. It is heartbreaking.


  6. This USDA trial program to monitor violations of the animal welfare act and the horse protection act is up for bid. please inform the horse rescue groups like AA and others who have info on these crappy horse dealers of this program that they should bid for this position.

    PDF –

    news article explaining the program (phone numbers in pdf)-

    lets not let the foxes get a gov contract to inform on themselves please.


    • This is helpful, Laura. Thanks! Also, I am wondering if Raul Grijalva, one of our staunchest supporters, has any notion of this happening in his state??!! I am thinking may be to copy and send it to his office, but will ask Valerie Stanley if this is the most effective thing to do. The situation just points up the weakness of the California anti-slaughter law, since Chavez is known to be buying horses here in CA and shipping them to NM, in direct violation of the law. Enforcement is 90% of the law.


      • Raul G. is the Congressional Rep of Arizona, Dist 7. But he is for the horses and maybe could help


  7. Absolutely heartbreaking and infuriating! R.T., what can we do to get this place shut down?? Who do we put the pressure on?


  8. To let these horses starve and suffer because they couldn’t sell them to slaughter is evil. They need to castrate Chavez without meds in a filthy pen and then string him up by his penis. Winchester should be put in a cage and starved to death. Let justice be served. The vet should loose his license at the very least. These folks are the dregs of the earth.


  9. I contacted In Defense of Animals and HSUS equine dept. Please do the same for those 100’s of horses suffering right now in this hell hole. This ahole must be paying sheriff off to stay out of jail.


  10. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Sounds like something from another world, but it was here in the US. How anyone can let animals suffer like this is beyond me. NM residents and anyone else that reads this should be making some calls or writing letters to shut this place down. I wonder how many other places exist that we don’t even know about. Disgusting, senseless human beings are responsible for this and it must come to a HALT.


  11. In what county is this operation located? I am tempted to contact the district attorney’s office in that area and have them look into this. If the local law enforcement will not do anything about this, they will.



    • Don’t just be tempted. Do it. Thanks. This is so outrageous. But I guess it takes place in other places also.


  12. This is outrageous and the people responsible for this will get this pain and more back in return. I am ashamed to be part of the human race when I see the work of these psychopaths. What is the call to action here?


  13. How in the world can people do this?? I just got an email reply from Vicky Hartzler who is our area US congressman. She states horse slaughter plants are a humane way to dispose of unwanted horse. She and Roy Blunt make a good pair, both pro slaughter. These are the people representing you if you live in my area of MO. I made sure I sent her back an email telling her how wrong she is.


  14. This guy is evil incarnate. I have no words after reading this. I am appalled that this is allowed to continue. There is a special place in hell for this guy!


  15. I can’t always read articles, they turn my stomach. This person has no conscience what so ever.
    It is a shame we can’t do to him what he has done to these innocent animals. Let us fix his manly penis.


  16. This just makes me so, so very angry! These people are beyond being evil & disgusting! But I also realize that I must turn my anger into being a voice for the horses… I have watched some of the videos (especially from Animals Angels undercover work)… My heart breaks beyond words and I cannot sleep at night.. But I realize that I must turn my anger into something else…to be a voice for the horses…
    God Bless RT & Terry for the book “Straight From The Horses Heart”.


  17. All,
    If you expand this article with the link at the bottom you will see all sorts of names and numbers to contact.




  19. Id like to know just what kind of dirty pool is going on! I just read an article that Animals Angels had some animals seized!! Sounds like some very petty stuff too! This is such a coincidence, especially after this rescue did this investigation of this stockyard, i find it hard to believe there was not some connection with the two cases. It sounds very much like someone is trying to punish this rescue for doing this investigation!!


    • Animal Angels appears to be a commonly used name although slightly altered to avoid legal problems. The only case I found was Animal Angels Horse Rescue in 2008 in Colorado. I don’t know if this is what you read but from what I’ve seen it’s not the same people or organization.


  20. Please pay no attention to the link i posted on this story!! I didnt realize when i posted it that its an old story from 2007! This story was posted today on facebook by someone else and i read it and thought that maybe someone was trying to do Animals Angels harm for doing this investigation. I didnt mean any harm to anyone by this. I do commend the great work that Animals Angels are doing to help us save our horses and animals of all kinds. They are good people! I thank them for bringing us the truth! My apologies for this stupid goofup!


      • The org that did this investigation is not a rescue and is not the same organization.

        Thank you R.T. for posting!


    • Yes, they are doing a wonderful job getting the truth out in the open. This kind of stuff has been going on for too long with the kill buyers! The cruelty is horrible and the suffering of these poor beasts must be put to an end once and for all! NO animal should have to endure the pain and suffering of these poor horses for hours on end!


  21. Thank you, Steve, for clarifying that for me! I didnt realize there were two rescues with almost the same name only in two different locations! Very confusing!


    • Technically, Animals’ Angels is NOT a rescue. They are an investigative and documentary nonprofit that records animal abuse in agriculture and equines. They have been known to asist with documentation and assistance for some seizures, much like HSUS (although HSUS DOES support some sanctuaries/rescues directly)…something Doink and SS perpetually deny to the point of psychotic denial.


      • Well thank you for letting me know the difference! I am totally supportive of this Animals Angels Organization. I think this kind of work is very important to save our horses and all animals from the cruelties of abuse and neglect. Without people like them, no one would really know what goes on behind the scenes! Im so glad they brought this out in the open! Now maybe something will get done about this!


  22. I am so disgusted with Dennis Chavez and people like him. I emailed all of the supervisors and people in charge at the NM Livestock board. I urged them to retrain their inspectors and to meet with BJ Winchester and also the veterinarian who works at the feedlot to discuss the pathetic situation there.
    I asked them to demand that the veterinarian and inspectors tend to the sick or dying before they attend to other duties.I also have emailed the attorney general of NM regarding this.
    I plan on writing more people and also Gov.Richardson.

    Thank you, Animals Angels for the important work that you do.


    • I’m replying to myself because I said I was writing Gov. Richardson, actually I wrote Gov. Martinez, who is now gov. of NM. Sorry for the mistake.


  23. I really hope to god that something will be done. Mankind seems to become more and more a disgrace on this world. In China they kill thousands of dogs to eat them and before they kill they have to suffer endlessly. In Japan they kill thousands of Dolphins in a most cruel way and now I read these terrible stories about the horses. Its bad enough in Europe where they ship horses and other livestock for thousands of miles without food and water to be killed (if they survive). If animals are killed why not in a human way in a slaughterhouse within a short distance. As far as I know (I live in Switzerland) they closed down slaughterhouses for horses in America and now ship them down to Mexico, WHY? Poor animals, just more suffering. When will people get punished for that! this is just barbaric.


  24. I sent it to Pat Meehan and I mentioned to Pat to take it to the house and if he felt necessary read it to them….


  25. I used to buy horses from Dennis Chavez about13 years ago. I even took a couple of my horses to his auctions, thank God people at the auction bought my horses. To make a long story short i did observe some horses in rough condition. I remember asking why they were in that condition, and I was told that he bought them that way. Im 46 years old and since I was a kid I’ve always loved horses. And I think something should be done to stop horse abuse. All DC cares about is money so he needs to be dealt with for what he’s done recently and In the past. This has been going on since i was younger. This needs to stop now. May God bless those poor horses that have lost their lives due to neglect…..


Care to make a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.