A New Advocate for American Equines, Liberty Sanctuary is Established to Rescue, Rehabilitate and Advocate for Rescued Slaughter Pipeline Victim Equines

Liberty Sanctuary, a newly formed 501c3 equine sanctuary outside of Park City, Utah has completed its inaugural rescue efforts to save many Forgotten Equines from the slaughter pipeline, a vast network responsible for exporting mostly healthy American domestic and wild horses for slaughter using documented inhumane practices. According to the USDA, “92.3 percent of equines in kill pens in the U.S. are otherwise healthy and could live productive lives with care.” Over the past 2 months, Liberty Sanctuary welcomed equines from kill pens in Bowie, Texas and Eaton, Colorado. Founder and equine advocate, Debra West, developed an infrastructure and team to enable rescue efforts and to nurture the animals along their journey to freedom in the scenic Wasatch Mountains.

Rescued horses at Liberty Sanctuary

Photo: Debra West

“Liberty Sanctuary is comprised of a group of dedicated volunteers and equine professionals to give our equine guests a meaningful second chance at life,” West shared. “Our mission is to rescue select equines from kill pens, to rehabilitate and rehome them. It’s important for the public to understand that young and healthy horses make up the majority of the slaughter population, so we typically select younger horses. We also believe these horses have the best chance of being rehabilitated and rehomed safely.”

The rescues are being cared for by diligent volunteers in close coordination with Blair Lybbert, DVM, Liberty Board Member and owner of Park City Equine Center. “Just like each of us, every horse has individual needs. We look forward to helping our volunteers to meet each horse’s needs in this supportive environment,” said Dr. Lybbert. The team is implementing a custom Equine Wellness Program developed by Eric Kraut, CERP, FEI-PET, CVT.  Critical to giving the horses a real chance at productive new lives is Liberty’s Training Program.  Leading that effort is intuitive expert horseman and clinician Trevor Howard, Director of Training.  “Imagine the power and potential of using correct principles executed consistently at the horse’s pace.  Only when we learn to move at a pace that is unique to each equine do we tap into the potential of what true partnership is,” Howard explained.  The team is rounded out by skilled trainers Don Herbert and Madison Rochlin and Liberty welcomes specialized clinicians.

Mama and baby horse at Liberty Sanctuary

Photo: Mary Waterman

West was inspired to take on the important cause of not only rescuing the equines but also advocating for them through the support of legislation to protect this forgotten equine population and inviting talented professionals to engage in a broader dialogue. With the addition of seasoned attorney Joshua Jewkes to the Board of Directors, Liberty Sanctuary hopes to add an important voice to the discussion. “As a horse owner, I was alarmed to learn how many young and vital equines are being sacrificed for no reason other than financial gain. I will work with colleagues to create a brighter future for these majestic animals, including through legislative action like the bipartisan SAFE Act. America needs to protect its equines from slaughter. This is not a political issue–it’s an issue of compassion and humanity, and we need common sense solutions,” affirmed Jewkes.

An overwhelming majority of Americans are against horse slaughter and most view horses as companion or performance animals. Additionally, many horses are treated with medications the FDA bans for human consumption.  “American horses are living symbols of our country’s heritage and spirit. They have been partners in developing this land and it is unconscionable for these legendary icons of freedom to be treated as captives and cruelly slaughtered. The American horse is a critical part of the nation’s story, and they deserve to be protected and cared for responsibly and with dignity,” West proclaimed.

Liberty Sanctuary is currently accepting donations and applications for volunteers. It is also interested in forming strategic marketing alliances. For more information, please visit

About Liberty Sanctuary

Liberty Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) equine sanctuary outside of Park City, Utah which offers freedom for equines rescued from the slaughter pipeline, a vast network responsible for sending mostly adoptable horses to slaughter after enduring documented, consistent abuse and suffering during all phases of the pipeline. The sanctuary was inaugurated in 2023 by a group of caring individuals and equine enthusiasts in an effort to save horses from slaughter and to advocate for them. We support the bi-partisan SAFE Act (Save America’s Forgotten Horses) and also seek other safe management of America’s equine population. For more info, visit

Meet Liberty Sanctuary’s Rescues:  The equines who have found freedom at Liberty Sanctuary include:

2 month old, Jasper, paint colt born in the Bowie, TX kill pen, Bowie, TX

3 year old, Scout, kind chestnut pony cross gelding, Bowie, TX

3 year old, Nikeata, bay blend native wild horse, Eaton, CO

3 year old, Dakota, sweet bay native wild horse, Eaton, CO

4 year old, Navajo, abused Palomino draft cross gelding, Bowie, TX

4 year old, Chief, majestic bay draft cross gelding, Bowie, TX

5 year old, Orion, sweet sorrel native wild horse, Eaton, CO

5 year old, Truck, handsome bay native wild horse, Eaton, CO

6 year old, Prince, bay native wild horse, Eaton, CO

6 year old, Comanche, athletic and sensible black draft cross gelding, Bowie, TX

6 year old, Gemma, beautiful paint mare and Jasper’s Dam, Bowie, TX

6 year old, Coco, adorable and loving gelded mini donkey, Bowie, TX

8 year old, Axel, wise bay draft cross stallion with stunning mane, Bowie, TX

10 year old, Teacher, a beautiful strawberry roan native wild horse, Eaton, CO

12 year old, Kingston, stunning golden native wild horse, Eaton, CO

12 year old, Wyatt bay native wild gelding, Eaton, CO

15 year old, Strawberry Shortcake, adorable Shetland Pony mare, Bowie, TX

About the SAFE Act (H.R. 3355)

The Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (H.R. 3355) is a bipartisan bill that permanently bans horse slaughter in the United States and prohibits the exportation of horses for slaughter.  Sponsored in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the SAFE Act is supported by Liberty Sanctuary and leading animal welfare groups including the ASPCA® , the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation.