Southwest Livestock Auction: 
An Update
Animals' Angels
PO Box 1056 Westminster, MD 21158
September 14, 2015 
I'm sure that many of you remember the infamous Dennis Chavez, owner of the notorious Southwest Livestock Auction in New Mexico.  Our investigation in 2012 will always be remembered by our investigators as one of the most horrific scenarios they have ever encountered. We found four dying horses that day, emaciated and bleeding. Those poor horses had been left to die in one of the pens and would have suffered a slow, cruel death if it wasn't for Animals' Angels intervention. The case made international news and multiple cruelty charges were filed against kill buyer Dennis Chavez.

To read our detailed 2012 investigative report on Dennis Chavez please go here.

To watch video footage of the investigation, please go here. (Warning! Graphic!)
Dennis Chavez is New Mexico's largest kill buyer. He ships close to 10,000 horses each year to Mexico for slaughter. Some of the Mexican plants he delivers to have never been approved by the European Union, even prior to the EU horse meat ban, and still slaughter horses with the horrific Puntilla knife method.  Chavez's auction and feedlot are well known for the inhumane conditions under which they operate.  He has shipped mares with newborn foals on their side to slaughter as well as horses with broken legs.  Our investigations have revealed even worse horrors at his feedlot. It is a sad fate indeed for any horse that finds itself in Chavez's possession.

Sadly, Animals' Angels investigations earlier this year confirmed yet another horrific notch in Chavez' belt: he was the consignor of over 350 stallions and a large number of mares and geldings from the iconic Dann Sisters herd. Animal advocates nationwide were up in arms over the dispersal of the herd and were outraged, and rightfully so, to hear that such a large number of these wild horses had been shipped to the Southwest Livestock Auction. With Chavez in charge of these horses, there were few options open for their future. In fact our follow-up investigation into the whereabouts of these celebrated horses found that the majority were indeed shipped to Mexico for slaughter.

To read our reports on the Dann Sisters herd go here and here.
Chavez has  faced consequences only once in his long career of rampant animal abuse - and that was by the hand of Animals' Angels. In 2012 we were successful in having him held accountable for his actions, and while the penalties for his crimes were not nearly as harsh as we had hoped for given the offenses and clear-cut evidence, his operations were exposed to an international audience.
Although we had expected the New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB), a government enforcement agency, to be on the side of the horses, they were of no help whatsoever in the case. We're gratified to say that our evidence, obtained through painstaking investigations and research, was instrumental in securing charges against him, despite the lack of support from the NMLB. While this was a significant step in the right direction, we knew that Chavez was not going to change his ways overnight, especially given the results of the court case -instead he would just get better at hiding his illicit operations.  We knew continued observation would be a must!
Unfortunately, after our success in uncovering the atrocities at the Southwest Livestock Auction, Chavez made it increasingly difficult to monitor this location.  How much longer would this abuse be allowed to continue unabated? We certainly weren't willing to give up! 
We needed to come up with a new way to monitor not just Dennis Chavez, but all difficult to access locations. We had to think outside of the box. The latest addition to Animals' Angels arsenal in the fight against animal abuse will expose violators of all kinds regardless of how they might try to hide their operations!  We tested this newest piece of equipment, "Angel 1," at one of the most difficult kill buyer feedlots. You guessed it, the Dennis Chavez feedlot!  "Angel 1" provided immediate results. 

Our recent investigation revealed a "downer" cow in apparent distress and several severely emaciated horses. We contacted the NMLB and filed an official complaint against Dennis Chavez and the Southwest Livestock Auction.  While we had high hopes that the NMLB would follow through and conduct a thorough investigation, it appears they have once again let us and the animals down. Their response to the situation raises more questions than it answers.

When the NMLB inspector approached Chavez and inquired about the "downer" cow, Chavez stated: "There was one cow down but the dead animal removal service had already been contacted earlier that morning and the cow was in the designated area for the dead animal removal to pick up."  This of course would indicate that a downer cow was in fact left on the property to suffer until a dead animal removal service could arrive and euthanize the animal for removal.  However, since the animal had been removed prior to the inspector's arrival, nothing further was done.  Still, some mention of having left an animal to suffer instead of providing immediate euthanasia should have been made by the NMLB inspector.  But it was not.

To read our full report, please go here
Equally disconcerting is that there was no mention whatsoever regarding the condition of any of the horses on the premises. In fact, the main point of his investigation seemed to be praising Dennis Chavez and the Southwest Livestock Auction for their "years" of care and concern for the animals on their lot.  It would appear that regardless of the intent governing their existence, the NMLB cannot be counted on to truly uphold the best interest of the animals.  That's why we at Animal's Angels will continue to monitor Dennis Chavez and his operations. 

We'd like to share with you the story of Hailey, who lives with her family in Washington State. Her story is one that we hope will inspire others, because it is truly the story of a special young lady.  Hailey just graduated from high school with honors and plans to attend college. Her admirable life's goal is to become a dog behaviorist so she can work with a K-9 unit and help train police dogs.  In addition, she wants to take those skills and volunteer to help train dogs at local shelters, in order to make them more easily adoptable. Amazing, right?

Like many teenage girls, Hailey loves horses, but her love and concern doesn't stop there. She wants every animal to be safe and loved - dogs, cats, and farm animals alike. Her heart has room for them all.  But horses hold a special place:

"My thoughts on horse slaughter are that it is a shady business led by animal abusers. Horses are an even better companion than a dog, they're loyal and beautiful creatures and I can't imagine a horse going through that horrible process. I've seen videos of what they do and I was disgusted!

I'm happy that your organization does something about it and you tell me what you spent your donations on!!

Saving animals is VITAL because animals can't speak for themselves and someone has to be there for them. There are too many animals that are taking abuse and it's sad, but there is still hope for them as long as people take action, anything helps." ~ Hailey

Like a true advocate, Hailey is out there trying to educate others, using Animals' Angels investigations and other material from our site as a stepping stone. Hailey is also very active in fundraising, encouraging others to give when possible to help the animals. She and her family have donated to Animals' Angels in the past through bake sales and garage sales that Hailey has organized - but the most heartwarming donation we have received is the one Hailey made to us this past Spring.  Hailey requested donations in lieu of birthday gifts for herself.  This selfless young woman felt the animals were more important than her own important day. But then, that's not surprising.

"We once rescued a 13 year old cat named Humphrey from the Humane Society. He was going to be put down but we gave him 3 more months until he passed away." ~ Hailey

That's the kind of activism that is certain to inspire others, young and old alike. Hailey is truly an animal angel. She doesn't just "talk the talk" of loving animals, she also "walks the walk."  

We're proud to have Hailey as part of our Animals' Angels Family and we wish her nothing but the best. We know she's going to have a bright future! 

Animal abusers beware!  Thanks to your past generosity we have been able to root out these criminals regardless of where they are and no matter how they might try to hide their reprehensible activities.  However, it's crucial for the success of our work to keep up with technology; otherwise we could never obtain the clear footage needed to expose these atrocious crimes and ensure charges. But as you can imagine, this is a very costly endeavor.  I hope we can rely on your help and support.

Our investigators work tirelessly to uncover the shameful acts of cruelty committed against farm animals. These investigations allow us to shed light on auctions and feed lots in order to advocate for real change. But we desperately need your help! 

It is more important than ever to see those who exploit animals only for their own profit to be brought to justice. The blatant neglect and cruelty that all too many animals endure throughout the country cannot be allowed continue --and we know you agree with us. Your conscience, like ours, demands change.
We are there to help the animals. By donating today, you too can take a stand against cruelty and be there for the animals. I know we can count on you! 

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Animals' Angels is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductible. 

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About us

Animals' Angels works to improve conditions for farm animals. We closely cooperate with law enforcement and government agencies to fight animal cruelty. Our investigators are out in the field nationwide, visiting auctions, feedlots and slaughter plants.



Animals' Angels, Inc.

PO Box 1056

Westminster, MD 21158


[email protected]