Union County Horse Auction

Union County Horse Auction
By:  Carly O’Keefe
Anna, IL - On Saturday there was a packed auction aimed at finding new homes for 19 horses rescued from a Union County farm but many that showed up went home with empty horse trailers.  

"I had my eye on the albino white one, number 18, but I don't think we'll get it," said Kristen Hill of Carbondale.

Most hopeful buyers, like the Hills left without a new horse, as Pets Are Worth Saving of Union County, or P.A.W.S. was the highest bidder on 17 of the 19 for sale.     Following a debate earlier this week on whether to adopt out or auction off the animals, P.A.W.S. volunteers dug into fundraising. The group pulled together close to $35,000 to take to the auction block to prevent the formerly neglected horses from falling into a similar or worse situation in a new location.  

"We understand that horses bought at auctions are sometimes the ones that go to slaughter,” said Cathy Sheeley of P.A.W.S.

While Union County required new owners to sign an adoption contract that forbids selling the animals to slaughter, P.A.W.S. representatives feared there was no way locally to keep tabs on the way the horses are treated by their new owners.

“We do not have the ability to chase these horses down all over the place where ever they may go to check up on them in the future, but if we hear something bad has happened to them, we'll follow up,” said Union County State’s Attorney Allen James.

For P.A.W.S., neglect or slaughter reported after the fact is too late.  "We also worry about them being traded and passed on and passed on, and again, we're not in a position to follow up on that kind of thing, but the folks at the Hoofed Animal Humane society are,” said Sheeley      

The 17 horses will be sent to Woodstock, Illinois, where the Hoofed Animal Humane Society will work to find them permanent good homes. Some folks who were outbid at the auction argue there are plenty of good homes here in southern Illinois.

"They just want to save the horses from bad people, but not all of us here are bad people," said Leroy Hill of Carbondale.

"I know some people have been less than pleased, but we had an obligation to come here and protect these horses, so that's what we did," said Sheeley.

P.A.W.S. bid a total of $13,980 to buy the 17 horses.