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By Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
For all about

April 14, 2019


It seems, if there’s a new scam that’s been derived, in the horse industry, to separate folks from their hard earned money.  The latest gimmick involves the poor horse, animal rescue operations, donors and “kill buyers.”  The scheme is quite unique in that it fulfills all the requirements of the definition of extortion:  More specifically, Extortion (also called shakedown, outwrestling and exaction) is a criminal offense of obtaining money, property or services from an individual or institution, through coercion.  Coercion is defined as “the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats”.

Another extortion tactic they use is: “The extortionist tells the donor that the horse is already on the truck headed to Mexico, but $200. will turn the truck around.” Still another extortion tactic they use is: “They will tell the potential donor and buyer that the horse has already been separated, sorted and chipped for shipment to the slaughter plant on a certain date.  The seller then jacks the price up on a previous $750. horse, for example, to a new asking price of $1,500 to cover the sorting and the chipping.

“Horse Kill Buyers” have enacted and perfected their presentation of an extortion operation which is offered to the general public in order to double their profits on selling horses, with the aid of phrases such as: “This horse was just rescued from the kill pen and if it doesn’t sell within a specified time frame, it’s going to the slaughter house!”  (Threat). 

Louisiana law enforcement has caught on to this unscrupulous and illegal tactic and is actually doing something about it by investigating “horse kill buyers” where in some cases the offender is actually arrested and prosecuted.  However, this unsavory extortion tactic isn’t unique to just Louisiana.  The same basic principle can be found throughout the United Sates where “horse kill buyers” are located and they use the same extortion tactic to sell excess horses for double profits on the internet or social media sites.

A more aptly applied moniker for what their doing is often referred to as a “shakedown racket”.  Simply stated, its akin to an individual telling a person, “unless you pay me so much protection money, I won’t burn your house down. In the case of the “horse kill buyer” they use a similar tactic by saying, “Unless this horse is sold out of the “kill pen” within a certain time frame, it’s going to the slaughter house!” (Threat). This illegal activity is designed to induce an immediate response from donors and horse rescues alike by invoking an individual’s sense of caring to save the poor horse.  My observed responses depicts a bidding war among rescues and donors alike.  

All-in-all, this bidding interaction can sometimes drive the price of the horse above the initial asking price.  The end result is that donors are eager to save a life and cough up their hard-earned money in the process. This perfectly-devised plan further enriches the seller.  So are horse rescues and money donors actually saving a life or are they enabling the “horse kill buyer” to further his or her extortion operation by using the donor funds to return to the local auction, buy more horses for the extortion operation and start the process all over again?  Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding “yes” and “no”.  Case in point:  Most all “kill pen brokers” already have existing contracts with horse slaughter plants across the international border of the United States.  These contracts usually require a “kill pen buyer” to fulfill a certain number of horses per contract, e.g., 200.  In all probability, the “kill pen buyer” has already fulfilled his obligation to the horse slaughter plant or the horse slaughter plant will find someone else to fill the contract, which leaves the original broker out in the cold, so-to-speak.

In all probability, the horse that’s being marketed as being “in dire straits,” in a “do-or-die situation” really isn’t in dire straits at all, never was intended for the slaughter plant and is being sold off to double his or her profits. Especially when they are usable riding horses.  That’s just a fact.  This illegal tactic is just really a very effective and fraudulent way of selling a horse and enriching ones bank account. One key way to verify this is to be cautious of photographs of horses with saddles on them, ready to ride. Usable horses aren’t the ones that make it to the horse slaughter plant. Unusable, unstable, mean and wild horses are the ones that usually make it to slaughter.

For the record, horses end up in the horse slaughter pipeline for all sorts of reasons, whether its because of economic down-turn, a death in the family, a non-performer in the show pen or on the race track, etc. Furthermore, it’s not against the law to fill a trailer full of horses and export them to a foreign slaughter house.  However, the unlawful tactics that are being employed today to sell horses allegedly, in the “kill pen” by “kill buyers,” is most certainly illegal. It’s just a SCAM program that’s been used effectively for a very long time in the horse industry.

Furthermore, it’s just an effective extortion tactic to double an investment. After all, let’s face it, “kill buyers” have found a very effective niche in the industry to double their profits by selling usable horses in this fashion that they’ve picked up at a bargain price at the sale barn. After all, no one wants to buy an emaciated horse or a horse in poor health and neither does the slaughter plant. This type of horse just isn’t fashionable or sellable. 


Let’s just introduce a hypothetical into the extortion tactic equation and  see how it all shakes out. For example, a “kill buyer” attends a local auction he or she buys horses based on the horse-slaughter plant paying him or her 40 cents per pound per slaughter horse.  Therefore, he has to purchase a horse below this figure in order to sell the same horse to the horse slaughter plant for a profit.  In the meantime, he or she buys some usable riding horses for the same below market price at the same sale.

Bear-in-mind that the “kill buyer” (who is engaged in selling horses using extortion tactics) is buying horses for two purposes: the unusable horses for the slaughter plant to fulfill the contract and the useable riding horses that are sold using the “in-dire straights” moniker. In order to make a substantial profit, the “kill buyer” markets the usable horse to the general public at let’s just say, 80 cents per pound, yielding double profits or even $1.20 a pound or more, which may yield triple profits.  When the horse sells because of the illegal extortion tactics being used, the horse brings a substantial profit to the “kill buyer”, which in turn allows him or her to restock and start the process all over again.  In fact and reality, if the usable horse isn’t sold at one location, the horse is just moved to another selling location to start the bidding war all over again. It’s the sad reality of the situation.


As the old saying goes, “there are horse rescues and then there are horse rescues.” Horse rescues are comprised of two categories: “legal and fraudulent.” Unfortunately, for the novice, it’s hard to distinguish between the two.  As a primer to the novice, rescues usually occupy the category of either being a Non-Profit or a 501 C (3) Non-Profit. The difference between the two are:  The State Non-Profit has to abide by certain disclosure laws of the State of Incorporation as well as Federal Taxing laws.  

The 501 C (3) Non-Profit has to abide not only by the Federal Non-Profit guidelines, but the State of Incorporation tax guidelines, as well.  The State Non-Profit has to afford the general public a financial disclosure.  The Federal 501 C (3) Non-Profit has to afford the general public a financial disclosure in the form of an IRS 990 which is loaded on  Donations to the 501 C (3) are tax deductible.  Donations to the Non-Profit aren’t always tax deductible.

Before donating to an individual posing as a horse rescue, it’s always advisable to conduct a cursory background check, including references and a document request, or you could be donating your money and your horse to an individual whose posing as a rescue but in fact and reality is a “kill buyer” and the only loving home your horse will ever see is on someone’s dinner plate in Europe.  Donors beware!  


As with horse rescues, the same can be applied to alleged animal-rights activists. The legitimate horse rescues perform wonderful work; however, unfortunately there are individuals on social media who pose as animal-rights activists, but in fact and reality are just “cyber bullies” and extortionists or social-media extremists whose mindsets are border-line terrorists, as I like to refer to them. Their modus operandi (MOS) is to launch an attack on an individual not in their favor and to ruin that individual at all costs while using lies, half truths and distorted facts to accomplish their mission.  

To reinforce their self-worth and legitimacy, they usually post headlines from news articles generated by other news outlets concerning abused horses or other matters of interest but they usually can’t post anything pertaining to anything they actually accomplished on their own to contribute their actually providing their personal accomplishments in making a horse’s life better. Therefore, one should be careful with whom one interacts with on social media and the Internet. As the Trojan adage goes, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!”

“Until Next Time, Keep Em Between The Bridle!”

Richard E. “Rick” Dennis

Managing Member
Phone: (985) 630-3500
Web Site: http://www/

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  1. Mr. Dennis,
    I’ve been reading your articles for years. Enjoyed every one. I really like how you tackle each subject, unafraid and deliver them with authority based on facts and truth.

  2. I agree. The. horse industry is busting at the seams with bullies, liars, cheats and thieves. I got out years ago j ust for these reasons.

  3. I see this type of turmoil on social media all the time. It’s very disgusting to watch the interaction when it happens, Twitter and Facebook should clean it up. No one has a First Amendment right to bully, slander or threaten another person. thank you.

  4. I love your straight-forward, to-the-point attitude.

  5. I don’t like the ganging up on someone and ruining them. It helps no horse to do this.

  6. I always tell people to ignore and forget what the Internet trolls say. They’re just mentally deficit individuals with too much idle and non-productive time on their hands. Usually a hidden agenda, mostly criminal, is the motivator. I find these people very jealous of another’s success.

  7. Mr. Dennis,
    I commend you on. your article. I’ve been in the horse business for 40 years and I’ve never seen social media attacks on people as bad as I see today. They. operate like MS13 gang members with their threats.

  8. If more people were arrested and sued for their threats on social media, then maybe this illegal behavior would stop.

  9. Amazing to see the social-media platforms being sued for allowing this BS to go on. Wonder how they like that?

  10. I’ve had more than one run-in with people declaring to be the holy grail of saving horses. It’s my opinion that they’re just bullies. When the facts come out, these social-media sites actually do very little, if nothing at all, to help the horse. Once they become fixated on a victim, they will do everything in their power to destroy that person with lies. Thank you for exposing this insanity.

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