TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - A Bay Area rescuer helped save four wild horses who were at risk of being shipped out of the country to be slaughtered for their meat.
Jennie Sloan of RJ Farms said the American mustangs recently showed up on her Facebook feed. They were in a Florida shipping pen, and it was their last chance to be saved before getting sent to slaughter in Mexico or Canada.
Sloan scrambled to raise the funds to rescue the mustangs, which have federal protection.
"It's horrible," Sloan told FOX 13. "I never want to do this again, as long as I live."
Just nine days earlier, the four horses had been part of an adoption event in Ocala by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the government agency responsible for America's mustangs.
Anyone can adopt a mustang for $125, but the price drops to $25 for horses over the age of 10, or those offered for adoption three times with no success.
"Once the horse is sold, once that bill of sale is passed, then that turns into private property and there's no federal protection," said Gus Warr with the BLM office in Salt Lake City.
And although the buyer signs a bill of sale promising not to "process" the horses or sell them to someone who will, it sadly does happen, Sloan said.
"Because these animals were purchased so inexpensively, they were at high risk of being sold to a meat buyer," she said.
Sloan said the horses she saw on Facebook and ultimately rescued were likely victimized by their so-called adopters. By the time she saw the post with the dire warning, "Nobody buys, they ship to slaughter," the price had skyrocketed from $25 to $600 per horse.
"Is there something wrong with that? Absolutely," Sloan said. "This is 100-percent exploiting people's hearts."
This doesn't happen with just mustangs, but with every breed of horse. According to the Humane Society of the United States, more than 100,000 horses in the U.S. are shipped out of the country each year for their meat.
It's something Sarasota Rep. Vern Buchanan wants stopped.
"I think 80 percent of Americans, I saw in a poll, don't want us slaughtering horses or sending them out of the country to be slaughtered for consumption," he said.
Buchanan is co-sponsoring a bill in the House of Representatives that would ban the slaughter of all American horses. Similar bills have never made it to the floor for a vote, but he predicts this one will.
"I feel very strong about it. It will definitely get out of the house," Buchanana said. "Give us some momentum for the Senate and the White House. So I think it's going to happen in 2019."
Warr said those mustangs should not have gone straight from an adoption event to a shipping pen. The incident is now under investigation.
"Do we need to fix something that isn't working properly? Hopefully, that's something we can learn from this," Warr said. "We should have done better."
LINK: To learn more about adopting a mustang visit BLM's website.