Indiana teen saves horses from slaughter

Thousands of horses sold at auction are destined for the slaughterhouse.
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Updated: .

Bob Segall/13 Investigates

Indianapolis - Some Indiana horses purchased for slaughter will live to see the new year – thanks to an Indianapolis teenager who rescued them.

"I just wanted to do as much as I could to save them," said Stephi Raynor, a 17-year-old horse enthusiast who began riding horses as a young girl. "I just didn't want them to be slaughtered and eaten."

Raynor planned the rescue after watching a recent Eyewitness News investigation.

The investigation showed that thousands of horses sold each year at Indiana horse auctions are purchased by "kill buyers" who send the horses to a slaughterhouse in Canada. Once killed, meat from the horses is processed and sold to grocery stores and restaurants in parts of Canada, Europe and Japan.

Undercover video obtained by 13 Investigates raises serious questions about the way in which some of the horses are shot and killed inside the Richelieu Meats slaughterhouse in Quebec.

When Raynor saw the video and discovered what was happening to horses sold at the Shipshewana Horse Auction in northern Indiana, she told her mother she wanted to get involved.

"She took the lead and said, 'we need to do this' and was very adamant about it," said Sandra Raynor, Stephi's mom.

Sandra and Stephi drove to Shipshewana to attend a horse auction in late November, but when they got there, the auction was over. Stephi was determined. She offered to buy some of the horses already sold for slaughter.

Initially, she was denied. The teenager kept asking until auction officials changed their minds.

"They told me I could choose one or two, but since we were driving a 3-horse trailer, I got three," Stephi explained. "I was running back and forth trying to get a few of these horses before they loaded them up for the slaughterhouse. I just really wanted to help and do something that would make a difference and I could change these horses' lives for the better."

The Raynors drove their horses -- now named Saving Grace (Savvy), Amazing Grace (Maizie) and Charming Grace (Gracie) -- to Indiana Horse Rescue, a non-profit rescue center in Frankfort, Ind., where they are receiving temporary boarding. The IHR facility in Frankfort is now caring for nearly three dozen unwanted and rescued horses that need a permanent place to call home.

Stephi is optimistic that horses like Savvy will be adopted soon.

"She's one that got saved and will get placed in a fantastic new home where she'll be treated how she deserves to be. Someone will love her and a kid will be riding her … so it makes me feel great," Stephi said. "As soon as we find them homes, I want to go right back and save some more. There's still a lot more to be done, but it's a start."

Indiana Horse Rescue Groups:

Indiana Horse Rescue
Phone: 317-459-2189 or 812-729-7697

Spoiled Acres Rescue
Phone: 812-577-5532

Horse-Angels Inc.
Phone: 812-876-0711

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition and its slaughterhouse videos - Warning - the video contained via this link is graphic and may be disturbing to some people.