Cutting horse vet's horses slated for slaughter

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Three horses reported to be scheduled for transport to slaughter were rescued by Michelle McCarley and other donors.

Horse rescuers say they ended up saving from slaughter several horses formerly owned by a Weatherford veterinary business specializing in cutting horse breeding.

A herd of horses bearing the brand of The Arnold Reproduction Center ended up scheduled for shipment to slaughter, according to social media posts, which the business acknowledged in a statement last week, calling the slaughter designation unintended.

Photos posted by the Kaufman Kill Pen Facebook page on July 22 and July 23 show at least a dozen horses bearing the LA brand and/or distinctive shoulder numbers, with some described as recipient mares.

The posts listed the dollar amounts required to save the horses from death.

Kaufman Kill Pen describes itself as a “page existing to help network homes for slaughter-bound horses” and lists animals for sale from McBarronhorses@yahoo.com in Forney.

Kaufman County horse trader Mike McBarron has drawn criticism from some animal welfare groups for his practices, including purchasing horses to send to Mexico for slaughter.

After social media posts about the horses went viral among the horse rescue community, The Arnold Reproduction Center acknowledged the incident.

“I recently sent some mares to the Cleburne Horse Sale,” The Arnold Reproduction Center wrote on Facebook Sunday. “I certainly never intended for them to end up in the slaughter pen. Many of these mares came to me through the sale barn system, were sick, completely unbroken and certainly destined for slaughter at that time (15 or so years ago). As long as these mares are reproductively sound, they stay in my herd – many probably longer than they are useful. My staff and I have taken the time, money, and resources we have to help these mares become useful and give them a viable purpose.

“I will use another avenue to re-home these mares in the future. If you are a non-profit organization and have your 501(c)3 at hand, I would be more than happy to donate any older or reproductively unsound recipients to your facilities as they become available.”

Veterinarian Leea Arnold, through an employee, declined to speak with the Democrat and forwarded links to American Veterinary Medical Association statements and frequently-asked questions regarding horse slaughter and unwanted horses.

It’s unclear exactly how many of Arnold’s horses ended up in the kill pen and how many were rescued or sent to slaughter. The Democrat reached out to McBarron by email for more information but did not receive a response by deadline.

Terri Massey, a rescuer with Kill Pen Rescue Network (KPRN), said the group rescued eight recipient mares and believes two others were rescued, as well. 

One of the rescuers, Michelle McCarley, of Mt. Pleasant, told the Democrat that she became aware of the animals’ plight via Facebook.

After another woman identified the LA brand, McCarley said she spoke with Dr. Arnold on Saturday by phone, told her about the situation and confirmed that the animals in question had been recipient mares for Arnold’s business.

Arnold gave her descriptions and numbers for 21 horses, including information that could help rescuers find homes for the mares, such as whether or not the animals were known to be rideable, McCarley said.

McCarley said Arnold told her that a AQHA-registered horse listed on the kill pen page, Smart Jazzy Miss 198, and later rescued had been hers, as well.

Arnold did not otherwise offer to help the animals that were scheduled to be sent for slaughter, according to McCarley’s account.

McCarley said she and others on social media who organized an effort to save the animals were unsuccessful in coming up with enough money to rescue all of the animals in time.

However, McCarley said she and other donors were able to rescue three horses Thursday at $750 each.

McCarley credited members of KPRN, Emily Turner and Denise Maloney with helping make the rescue possible. 

Arnold’s critics say it’s well-known in the horse business that slaughter horse traders, also known as “kill buyers,” often attend horse auctions.

“These people that are using them, these horses are making their fortunes,” McCarley said. “The very least that they can do is make sure that they end up in a safe place and find a retirement home, find a rescue, or establish a rescue for these mares.”

Recipient mares carry embryos for donor mares, enabling the donor mares to continue to race or show or to produce multiple foals each season.

During a 2013 interview with Horse Talk Live, Arnold said she has approximately 650 recipient mares.

The same year, Fort Worth Business reported that the cutting business made up about 60 to 70 percent of Arnold’s clientele, as well as those handling race horses and halter and reining horses.