The Face of American Horse Slaughter: Shady Dealer Shifts Species but Modus Operandi Remains Unchanged

Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The Face of American Horse Slaughter: Shady Dealer Shifts Species but Modus Oper

Washington, D.C. -- Some politicians in Washington feel that restarting a horse slaughter industry on American soil is a good idea. We’d like to offer a small window into how the horse slaughter industry currently operates, as shady players make deals amongst themselves while duping innocent people into giving up their horses to be butchered.

A story recently surfaced about a 24-year-old Pennsylvania woman, Kelsey Lefever, who faces felony charges after allegedly collecting over 120 retired racehorses from well-meaning owners, promising them she would find good homes for the horses. Her intention all along, however, was to sell them to killer buyers. Their "good homes" turned out to be a slaughterhouse in Canada, where they met with a gruesome death in order to become a “delicacy” at restaurants abroad. In the police report, a witness indicates that Lefever told her, "I killed every one of those (expletive) horses - over 120 of them. If they only knew, every one of them is dead."

Her middleman is alleged to be one Bruce Rotz, Jr., who operates his killer buyer business from barns in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. He is under contract to buy horses for the Canadian meat company Viande Richelieu.

Long before Rotz was a killer buyer, however, the Rotz family gained notoriety via another avenue of animal abuse: as Class B dealers. Rotz worked for his father, Bruce Rotz, Sr., who acquired dogs via an illicit supply chain and made tens of thousands of dollars a year selling the poor victims - any of whom were likely former companion animals - to research facilities for experimentation.

As dog dealers, the Rotzes had numerous run-ins with the law. The elder Rotz was fined $1,240 in 2005 for failing to meet minimum requirements under the Animal Welfare Act. The Rotzes acquired many of the dogs they sold from a family of notorious dealers in Missouri whose license was eventually revoked and a fine imposed for violations of the federal law, including failing to keep accurate records on hundreds of the dogs they sold.

In 2006, Bruce Rotz Sr. let his license to operate as a random source dog dealer expire, and he sold his business. Although Bruce Rotz, Jr. continued to work for the new owner for a while, he was already moving on to horses by then. Though he’s shifted species from dogs to horses, Rotz’s methods appear to be the same. He is part of a dirty business where animals come to him from questionable sources, and he sells them for profit. He frequents the nearby New Holland horse auction to acquire horses, including former racehorses, for the trade in their meat.; Recently, according to the criminal investigation, Rotz bought horses from Ms. Lefever.

Rotz doesn’t appear to be any more concerned with where the horses come from than he was with the dogs - and because he is once removed from the known illegal activity, he appears to be successfully ducking prosecution. While Lefever faces prosecution for her fraudulent acquisition of the horses, Rotz remains free - a fine example of the sort of individual poised to take a lead role in a revised American horse slaughter industry.

"This makes you wonder why some Members of Congress are fighting so hard to restore an industry filled with crooked individuals like Rotz and Lefever, while thumbing their noses at those responsible owners who lost their horses into slaughter against their will," said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute. "Thankfully, the majority of legislators are supporting passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act which would protect horses from corrupt profiteers."

##30##

Media Contact:
Chris Heyde, chris@awionline.org, (202) 446-2142