In the wake of the ABC’s devastating expose of the slaughter of Australian racehorses, a kill-buyer was profiled in The Sydney Morning Herald. Here are some excerpts:
Peter Loffel is the face of horse racing’s unpalatable truth. He is known as a kill buyer, although he prefers the term horse trader. He buys horses no one wants and trucks them to a place no horse wants to end up – the Meramist abattoir…
The horses he buys are nearly all retired racehorses or trotters. He says he buys most of his gallopers direct from trainers, licensed participants in an industry which has spent the past four days claiming it has no idea so many thoroughbreds are sent to abattoirs. “Most of them are some sort of racehorse.” If what Loffel says is true, the industry’s claim that horses are being slaughtered beyond their sight is bunk; any trainer who sells a horse to Loffel knows exactly where it is going.
Loffel, 62, has quietly gone about his grim business for more than 30 years. He doesn’t just deal in horses…but he has dealt with horses nearly all his working life and scoffs at those now decrying the practice. “Since Friday people have been ringing me all hours of the night and their language – well, I’m being polite. And why? Because I slaughter horses, for Christ’s sake. If I went tomorrow, someone would step in my place,” he says.
The kill buying business is not complicated. Loffel buys some horses from auctions, but most of them he picks up cheaply from trainers and breeders. Once he has enough to fill his B-double trailer – up to three dozen horses – he starts the two-day drive north to the Queensland town of Caboolture.
Some of the horses he buys gallop too slow, some have tendon issues, some have breathing difficulties but they all share the same problem, as Loffel explains. “Every horse can’t be a winner, unfortunately. It’s like people; we don’t get slaughtered but you know what I mean. What do they do with these horses?” Despite…the abuse and death threats he is receiving from animal activists, Loffel is unapologetic. He has no plans to stop anytime soon.
He dismisses the idea that every horse can be rehomed. “One in a thousand is a good horse,” he says. “They are not all going to be suitable. No one breeds for us but…when the season is tough, they can’t give them away. People don’t want them.”
“People don’t want them” – hence, slaughter. Look, here’s the uncomfortable truth: If you are supporting this industry in any way – betting, attending, patronizing racinos, or just promoting it in the public discourse – you are supporting equine hell. There is simply no getting around that.