Collin County spends $13,000 to give abused horses a second chance.

When Patrice Wheeler bought 13-acres of land in Collin County years ago, she had no idea what to do with it and admits there was "no plan".

That changed in late 2009 when Wheeler adopted 5 of 76 Arabians seized from an abusive owner. All of a sudden, Wheeler's childhood passion for horses and her property's purpose were the same.

She now has 15 horses, mini-horses and mini-donkeys. They were all rescued. Many were once near death. Some still have problems including cancer, blindness and birth defects. Patrice Wheeler says, "Just realizing the need right now with the economy is a big driver for me because animals can't speak for themselves. They can't help themselves."

That's why Wheeler spent more than $13,000 yesterday at a horse auction by Collin County authorities. She had heard some of the bidders were there to rebuy the animals for the woman they were taken from. Wheeler says, "We were going to end the cycle of abuse and put them in responsible care to be put in homes with responsible care."

She kept one Arabian and gave the other 12 horses to good homes and known rescue groups that do background checks and site visits. Patrice Wheeler says, "I'd rather their funds go to rehabilitating the horses once they're in their care, so I stepped in and helped those people."

She and other rescuers we met at the McKinney auction yesterday told us they appreciate city and county agencies as well as other groups that rescue animals, but more teeth need to be put into making sure mis-treated animals next homes are good ones. Wheeler says, "New action is required. It's not the same as it was. We have new challenges now and large livestock, cattle as well as horses are falling victims to the economic conditions."

Mistreated animals who are rescued can easily end up in bad homes again. Some welfare groups turn them over to people they don't thoroughly check out or at auctions, they simply go to the highest bidder. People we talked to today and yesterday at the auction think most in the rescue business are doing the best they can. That includes law enforcement. But until there are stronger laws and people stand up against neglect, it will continue to be a tough battle.