Athens couple works to rescue horses from meat auctions


ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — A husband and wife team who co-own a horse farm in Athens has made it their mission to rescue unwanted equines from the perils of Ohio’s meat auctions.

While federal legislation outlawing the slaughter of horses for meat took effect in 2007, Rachel Bendler told The Athens Messenger (http://bit.ly/2edz2C9) there’s a “loophole” that’s been allowing the practice to continue.

The loophole gives “kill buyers” an opportunity to purchase horses at auctions for whatever purpose they choose. The horses are mostly slaughtered in Canada and Mexico, with Canada the closer option for Ohio horses.

Along with her husband Zack, Rachel Bendler operates Bella Run Equine as a safe haven for horses the couple rescues from the slaughterhouse.

“We go to the slaughter auction and we buy what horses we can in order to outbid the meat men, the kill buyers,” Rachel said. “Then we take them home and rehab them. They are in the auction ring literally 10 seconds before they’re sold.”

Most horses that end up at auction are there because their owners can no longer take care of them.

Some suffer from neglect and maltreatment. Once the purchased horses fully recover from any ailments, the Bendlers sell them off to good homes.

“We try to get for each horse what we have put in,” Rachel said.

The couple has received professional training from Rachel’s parents, who own and operate a veterinary clinic in Sunbury.

Currently the Bendlers have 28 horses on their 22-acre ranch. Rachel said that number needs to get back down to around 23 or so before the couple can go to another auction.

The inaugural Bella Equine Fun Show, held Oct. 8 at the Athens County Fairgrounds, raised $2,500 that will be put toward the couple’s rescue efforts.

“We believe that every horse we save is making a difference,” Zack Bendler said.

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Information from: The Athens Messenger, http://www.athensmessenger.com/