A group of horses has already been rescued once from an owner now facing animal cruelty charges. Thursday, bidders at the Tulsa Stockyards tried to save them again, this time from slaughter.
The horses are survivors - some of the remaining livestock rescued from a ranch where it took heavy machinery to dig graves for the 36 cows and horses found dead on the property.
2/8/2015 Related Story: Officials Find Dozens Of Dead, Neglected Livestock On Muskogee County Ranch
It's one of the worst animal cruelty cases the Muskogee County sheriff said he's seen, but auctioneer Rodney Payne didn't see that cruelty reflected in the remaining horses.
"They are great horses. They really are and I don't see a lot of animal cruelty here. I really don't," he said.
Payne said the 96 horses for sale are young, fat, in good health and the mares will have babies this spring.
In addition to the bidders, the horses' former owner, Dan McWilliams – now facing 20 counts of animal cruelty – was also at the stockyards, keeping watch.
3/2/2015 Related Story: Muskogee Rancher Accused Of Animal Cruelty Denies Wrongdoing
However, the concern now, for many, wasn't McWilliams; it's that the horses go to greener pastures and not to a slaughter house.
"Slaughter buyers are kind of like snakes. I don't like snakes, but we have to have them to eat our rats. And I'm not a big fan, but I don't like overpopulation either," Payne said.
He said slaughter buyers show up at most auctions; but so do horse rescuers, like Dawn Martin.
"Heart break. There's absolutely no excuse for it," she said.
She only had $500 to spend, but hoped that would save some of the ponies.
"The chances are a lot of them will end up at a slaughter house. It's just something we can't stop," she said.
Some of the cattle rescued from the ranch were also auctioned off Thursday.
Payne said he knows who is from slaughter houses but said he hadn't seen any there.