Kill Buyers vs Brokers, Are They The Same Thing?

My Name Is Lucky Not Hip #209Is There A Difference Between Kill Buyers And Horse Brokers?

In the United States, horses are not allowed to be used for human consumption nor for pet food, however, Mexico and Canada both allow the slaughter of horses for animal and human consumption.  At auction, horses are assigned a “hip number” — a number that is physically glued to them by which they are inventoried and referred to.

A kill buyer is someone who buys horses either with the intent to sell them to a slaughterhouse, or that act as a middle man for slaughter houses.  Kill buyers (who are often simply referred to by the acronym “KB”) are typically contracted by a meat company, slaughterhouse, or other business that deals with horses for the purpose of slaughtering them for their meat.  Sometimes horse owners knowingly relinquish their horses directly to a kill buyer knowing exactly what fate awaits their horses.

Kill buyers look for horses at auctions, feed lots, horse brokers, and may even scour horse ad sites.  An alarming number of “free” or “cheap” horses “to loving home” are posted on sites such as Craig List — a new marketplace crawling with kill buyers who respond to ads promising a good home to someones’ companion horse then send them off to slaughter.  Kill buyers are often suspected (and sometimes caught) dealing with stolen horses — horses they either stole themselves, or horses that were illegally brought to auctions to be sold.  Some kill buyers have been found guilty of taking wild horse from public lands or from the BLM to hold them, but then later sold them to slaughter.

One rescue organization (that obviously feels very strongly about kill buyers — but I don’t blame them) defines them this way:

“KILL-BUYERS” and “BUNCHER’S” are unscrupulous people who act as middlemen for the $laughterhouses. These are the people that will outbid you at auction while you are trying to buy a cute little horse or pony for your grandchild, these are the people that will answer FREE TO A GOOD HOME ads for your horse and will promise to provide a “forever loving home” to your beloved animal – and take him directly to $laughter. These are the people that CHOOSE to earn their living bringing horses, yes, even “good” horses, to $laughter as a way of life. They travel all over the country and keep ‘kill-pens” or feedlots at various locations throughout the U.S., Canada & Mexico. These are the people that will keep seriously injured, sick and suffering horses alive that SHOULD BE, NEED TO BE euthanized RIGHT AWAY but keep them alive anyways and let them suffer because they know a horse must be alive and standing “on at least three legs” to go to $laughter. These are the people that realize and exploit the fact that there is a BIG demand abroad for horsemeat and BIG money to be made right here in the good ole’ USA supplying that foreign demand.  Source:  Quarter-Acre Rescue Ranch

What Is A Horse Broker?

The term “horse broker” does not generate quite the hostile reaction as the term “kill buyer,” nor should it.  However, some horse brokers (dealers) may also operate as kill buyers.  A broker is someone who buys and sells horses for a living.  A kill buyer also buys and sells horses for a living.  The main difference between the two is to whom and for what purposes purchased horses are resold.

Brokers often purchase horses with the intent to sell any they cannot “flip” (turn around and resell to an individual, at auction, or sometimes, to rescue organizations) to slaughter.  Unfortunately, there are many websites that prey upon kindhearted horse lovers advertising horses as being “owned by a kill buyer” urging donors to come forth to “rescue” the horse by a fast approaching date.   Sometimes, these sites are cleverly created by brokers themselves looking to resell horses — and if they cannot will revert to KB status and send them off to slaughter directly or sell to another kill buyer.

Some kill buyers and brokers will work with rescue organizations, allowing rescues to buy horses (usually at a price higher than what the KB/broker paid) and save them from slaughter.  However, some brokers and kill buyers refuse to work with organizations based on the fear of being harassed and facing public scrutiny.  Some, are just mean spirited people who take sick satisfaction in showing off their power over life and death by refusing to resell a horse (even at a higher price) just to see them dead rather than saved.