Auction Operator Fined for Equine Transport Law Violations

The USDA is seeking $162,800 in fines from an Ohio livestock auctioneer and shipper for violating the Commercial Transport of Equines for Slaughter Act, which regulates treatment of slaughter-bound horses. At issue is the shipment of 1,345 horses to slaughter facilities in Texas between 2003 and 2007.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) complaint filed in March 2008 charged Leroy Baker Jr., owner of Sugarcreek Livestock Auction and its trucking branch, with failing to file written statements that the horses were rested, fed, and watered while in transit. It also charges that he failed to ship stallions separately, mishandled injured animals, and neglected to report horses that died in transit.

According to USDA documents, an agency Judiciary Officer ruled that Baker failed to respond to the complaint within 20 days of its issue, and ruled that Baker pay the fines by mid-February 2009.

But Baker is refusing to pay the fines on grounds that the USDA never provided him with evidentiary documents relative to the case.

"I did respond and I asked them for the paperwork," Baker said. "I'm going to fight it."

Paul Feeney of the USDA Office of the Inspector General declined to comment on the case.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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