By Steven Long, Photo Courtesy Ray Field,
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – What began as a pen full of slaughter bound horses in the sun bleached town of Presideo, Texas has now dwindled to 24 from 26 seized by the county sheriff and housed in in Marfa, the county seat.
The horses will soon be on their way to a refuge. They will be removed from the sheriff’s custody Tuesday.
Since their seizure, the man who allegedly brought them to the Rio Grande border town to sell for their meat, Trent Saulters, has been arrested on outstanding warrants from Johnson, County charged with theft of livestock as well as theft by check, and is now free on bond.
The horses have been released to the custody of Rachel Waller Rondeaux of nearby Alpine. They will be kept in quarantine at her 400 acre Firelight South ranch and cared fir by her personal veterinarian.
Rondeaux made the announcement on Facebook late Labor Day afternoon saying, “WE DID IT!!! The West Tex 25 are coming here to the ranch for rehab and rehoming later on. Sadly, our little guy Ying lost his battle last night, bjut his passing graced us with custody. Thank you everyone. I need trailers and panels by tomorrow.
The horses had been scheduled for a sheriff’s auction set for September 14, 2011.
“We lost one last night, and today I was given custody,” Rondeaux told Horseback Online. “I have been out there almost every day.”
“I donated hay, and have been doing all I can. The horses that are in the worst shape were like that already. They just went downhill fast.”
All of the horses either have strangles, or have been exposed to strangles.
Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez has been under fire since the controversy at the slaughter pens began because of horses severely injured, dying, and dumped in a flash flood prone creek dead or dying. He has filed no charges on any of the alleged infractions.
Catastrophic neglect at the Presidio slaughter pens was discovered by Ray Field of the Wild Horse Foundation during a flyover when he saw horses dead on the ground.
“I have gotten to know him and see him every day,” she said. “He wanted the best for the horses.”
The situation remains under investigation by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. There may be federal involvement as well because of misuse or falsification of Coggins papers, a federal crime.
Rondeaux told Horseback she will welcome donations for the horse’s care.
“I have a list and will set up an acct tomorrow at the feed store or people can donate directly to us and receive a tax deduction letter
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“This is a very happy start here,” she said. “I hope folks will help us as we will adopt them out later to approved homes under an adoption agreement.”
It is presumed that all of the prison horses sold to Saulter at a Huntsville livestock auction went to slaughter.