Some time ago I stumbled across a group that had what I thought, was a unique approach to rescuing horses.
To understand it, you must be aware of the plight of horses in Canada today. For whatever reason they were brought into the world (racing, pleasure riding, showing, jumping, competing, pets or otherwise), all horses at some point will reach the end of their use. For some that day falls the day they are born (google nursing mares), others at the end of many years well into their senior years and everywhere in between. How they meet their death is under contention.
There is a booming business of horses being killed for their meat and skins. A “kill buyer” is someone who purchases horses from auction and sends them to slaughter for human consumption, animal consumption and other various products. The business model is simple: Purchase the horse from the auction at a rate lower than the going ‘meat rate’ per pound. Sell that horse to the processing plant at a per pound rate. Therefore, a horse owned by a kill buyer is on borrowed time, waiting to be sent to their deaths.
Need You Now Equine (NYNE) is a Facebook group that lists horses on their page with their picture and an informal evaluation, which are currently owned by kill buyers. The purchase price via NYNE offers the kill buyers a small profit over what they would get over taking the horses to slaughter and saves their transport costs to the plant. If they are unsuccessful, the horses are shipped to the processing plant for slaughter.
**Please note that this approach is NOT unique to NYNE. There are other groups that follow the same or similar model. Each group must be evaluated on their own merits as to whether you feel they are a reputable, above board organization.**
This approach covers an area of the horse life cycle that had been off limits. Previously a horse that went to auction and purchased by a kill buyer was lost. NYNE gives them literally, one last chance before they go off to their deaths.
There is controversy.
1) Some believe that kill buyers will outbid traditional rescue groups, knowing that a particular horse may resell via NYNE for more. If NYNE wasn’t offering this option, the kill buyers may not bid as high and rescue groups would be able to afford to purchase and rescue these horses. The presence of NYNE artificially inflates the prices of horses at auction.
2) Another theory is that by purchasing horses from kill buyers that provides them with a profit, those funds are then reinvested into the purchase of more horses for slaughter. So by dealing with kill buyers, they are actually facilitating the purchase and slaughter of more horses than if they hadn’t purchased any from the kill buyer at all.
3) There is also the suggestion that NYNE is making a profit themselves. That they make funds from the sale of the horse. That the “bail” price listed is not only the kill buyer’s price, but also fees paid to NYNE. To many this would make NYNE no better than the kill buyers.
In my personal opinion:
1) Kill buyers will bid on a horse that they feel they can make a profit from. They are business people. NYNE makes no promises about which horses will be purchased, nor do they have any way of knowing which horses will be purchased (although they can make an educated guess based on previous sales). Again, they’re business people. So to assume that they’ll go above and beyond a reasonable price and possibly put themselves at a deficit doesn’t make sense. The “going rate” must be anticipated and respected when bidding against other interested parties.
2) Yes, they are making a quick turn around profit on horses that they delayed shipment of and resold to NYNE purchasers. Being business people, a portion of their profits will undoubtedly go to reinvestment into additional stock. However, whether the kill buyer sells to NYNE or if they sell to the slaughter house makes no difference to them. Either way, they’ll make a profit and do as they wish with their money earned.
Keep in mind that kill buyers and groups like NYNE are ‘middle men’ in that they do not supply the horses to the auction houses. There is no shortage of horses being dumped into this system. Neither kill buyers nor NYNE impact the volume of horses flowing into auction. As long as there is a supply and a demand, there will be kill buyers.
3) NYNE clearly states that they do not make money from the sale of horses from kill buyers to purchasers arranged via NYNE. Speculate as they will, this is a private organization. Any opening of their books is up to them. However their prices seem to be in line. I believe them.
From what I’ve read, observed and understand, I endorse NYNE. They have helped to rehome well over 400 horses that would otherwise be dead right now. If you are in a position to take on a horse or pony at the end of their road, to literally pull them from the jaws of death, please do. Horses at this stage have fallen through all of the cracks. There is no further hope for them, unless you respond. Saving one horse will not save the world. However it will mean the world to that one horse.
Please note that in no way do I condone horses being sent to slaughter. Please read Why Not Horse Meat? While I state above that kill buyers are business people, it does not mean that I endorse their business or practices. It disgusts me to no end and I truly hope for the day where horses will be banned from slaughter around the world.
In my opinion, as with any other partner or relationship, we are responsible for our horses to the end. Anyone involved with horses should anticipate a 30+ year relationship. When they come to their end and there is no future for them, we owe it to them to give them a peaceful death. Euthanasia and disposal is a reality for any horse owner. While it is a sad and heart wrenching decision, it is the last commitment that we owe to horses that we have worked with, gained from and loved.