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The owner of the starved horses, Dennis Chavez, is known as a 'kill buyer,' someone who trades livestock primarily for slaughter.
Video footage of starved, neglected horses at a livestock auction house filmed by activists from Animals' Angels has prompted an investigation by the New Mexico Livestock Board, the Daily Mail reported.
The video was shot in a large pen at Dennis Chavez's Southwest Livestock Auction and Feedlot in Los Lunas, New Mexico, and shows four apparently malnourished horses lying on the ground, bones protruding, according to the Daily Mail. One mare has an open wound on her hip; another's legs are entangled in orange twine.
According to the organization's investigation, Dennis Chavez is New Mexico’s largest "kill buyer," or someone who buys and trades livestock primarily for slaughter. Chavez alledgedly ships close to 10,000 horses each year to Mexico to be slaughtered, the organization found, citing USDA paperwork.
Animals' Angels' executive director Sojna Meadows claims there were hundreds of malnourished horses on the site, many of them bleeding and suffering from diseases, New Mexico's KRQE News 13 reported.
"The horses were so thin, I can only describe them as walking death," Meadows said, according to KRQE.
Chavez declined an interview with the local television station.
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The New Mexico Livestock Board has launched a full investigation into Chavez's livestock practices after seeing the footage, the Daily Mail reported. The board plans to release the results of their investigation next month, but has suggested that the horses were already dying when they were purchased by Chavez and brought to the lot, according to the Daily Mail.
BJ Winchester, the inspector who was present at the March 10 auction, has been put on paid leave pending the results of the state's investigation, according to KRQE News. He has reportedly worked for the Livestock Board since 2001.
This is believed to be the first time Chavez's company has been investigated by the state board, according to the Daily Mail. However, several complaints had been filed against him with the United States Department of Agriculture.
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