More than a dozen horses saved from a trip to the slaughterhouse are now safe in the care of a local rescue.

Omega Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation Center director Kelly Smith said of 31 horses involved in the crash of two tractor-trailers in Tennessee last week, 21 made their way to Pennsylvania. The horses were on a truck headed to Canada to be slaughtered and sold for human consumption overseas.

Omega rescues horses, ponies, donkeys and mules to get them ready for new homes. They also have a humane euthanasia fund to purchase suffering animals from livestock auctions and have them humanely put down.

“I couldn’t bear the thought of those horses getting back on another truck,” Smith said.

Smith said she heard about the crash on social media and reached out to the owner to buy the horses. Originally, she said, she was told she couldn’t purchase them, but when she showed up to buy one rescue, the owner offered her 21 others.

“When I walked in, I was informed that I had a few hours to find a place to put 21 horses and find a money to pay for them,” she said.

Smith came up with $13,000 and over the next two days transported the horses to receive treatment. Omega has two horses in York County, and a Maryland rescue took in three others. The rest are still being cared for at Brandywine Veterinary Hospital in Lancaster County.

“The general misconception is that horses going for slaughter are all old and decrepit horses,” Smith said. “If you take a really good look at this group, you wouldn’t see anything wrong with them. These are young, healthy, viable horses. No horse, in my mind, needs to face this.”

While the horses finish their medical evaluations and initial assessments, Omega is looking for fosters and donations to help cover the cost of their care. You can find more information on the rescue's Facebook page and at http://omegahorserescue.com/tractortrailerfund.html.