© 2023 KPCW

Spencer F. Eccles Broadcast Center
PO Box 1372 | 460 Swede Alley
Park City | UT | 84060
Office: (435) 649-9004 | Studio: (435) 655-8255

Music & Artist Inquiries: music@kpcw.org
News Tips & Press Releases: news@kpcw.org
Volunteer Opportunities
General Inquiries: info@kpcw.org
Listen Like a Local Park City & Heber City Summit & Wasatch counties, Utah
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New Heber Valley equine sanctuary rescues horses from slaughter

Axel with Trainer Trevor
Liberty Sanctuary
Axel with Trainer Trevor

Liberty Sanctuary is a new nonprofit in Wasatch County dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating horses.

Liberty Sanctuary is an 80-acre quintessential slice of utopia in the Heber Valley.

Horses roam the rolling green pastures brimming with a variety of plants and animal life that border hundreds of acres of school trust lands. As the equines sip from Little Pole Creek overlooking Mount Timpanogos, you may wonder what they did to win the jackpot.

The truth is, founder Debra West saved these horses from a much different fate – the slaughter pipeline, a vast network that sends mostly healthy horses to slaughter in Canada and Mexico.

“We just felt this was an unconscionable act," she said. "And our American icons, the American equine, should not be in jail and should not be slaughtered for meat.”

West said these horses are first brought to auction and if their owners do not ask for market value, they can be easily purchased by a “kill buyer.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that about 92% of horses sent to slaughter are in good condition.

“That's why as soon as we really started digging into this, we said we've got to do something," said West. "And the best way to bring people into the issue is to really have them here on the property in Utah for people to get to know them.”

She said after rescuing the equines, they care for them and work to build trust. The eventual goal is to rehome the majority of them into qualified and caring forever homes.

Liberty Sanctuary is raising funds through an online auction now through Monday, July 31. Supporters can bid on gift certificates for popular Wasatch Back restaurants, NBA tickets, a 3-night luxury stay in Deer Valley, school of wine classes, medical spa treatments and much more.

So, who are these equines? Liberysanctuary.org affectionately calls them “our angels.”

“We have 17 equines on property right now," said West. "It's 16 horses and a mini donkey, we have eight wild mustangs, we have draft crosses and we have minis. We have a little bit of everybody–we are equine agnostic.”

Liberty Sanctuary has several other rescues like Benji the “Supermutt” and “Sundance,” a rescued BLM donkey, who roam these fields. And all of them have one very important thing in common: a second chance at life.