FORT WORTH, Texas - A 13-year-old North Texas girl scored a huge accomplishment recently at the Fort Worth Stock Show. She showed and sold a steer she raised even though it was blind. But now she's facing backlash from animal activists.
Everyone told Kendyll Williams there was no way she'd be able to sell her steer named Oatmeal at the stock show. He was born with cataracts and can't see. But that didn't stop her. She raised him, brought him before the judges and sold him last week for more than $8,000.
It was a big accomplishment for Huntsville teenager.
"We are proud of our daughter for what she accomplished," said Lyle Williams, her father. "But you know, on the way home and after talking she knew that was part of it and she accepted it."
Then the backlash began. Activists launched a Facebook page calling for Oatmeal to be placed in an animal sanctuary and Williams said she began receiving nasty messages online.
Renee King Sonnen is the creator of the Facebook page. She is a former rancher from Houston who is now a vegan. She said she is trying to save Oatmeal, but does not condone or agree with the negative comments made toward the Williams family.
"And this baby is blind right now somewhere… it trusted Kendyll," she said.
Sonnen tracked Oatmeal down to a feed lot in Corpus Christie. The owner said he had a contract with the stock show and the steer could not be released.
She claims she feels bad for the teenager, too.
"I saw and felt her heart. I heard her say, even though I couldn't fear it verbally, I heard hear say 'Daddy will you walk him down that trail of tears?' I heard that in my mind," she said.
Her father said the activists are way out of line.
"If those people who are wanting to save him are the same people saying the nasty things about me and my family, especially my daughter, I'm not sure those are the type of people I would want to have her steer," he said.
The Fort Worth Stock Show said in a statement that the junior livestock program provides an important life lesson for young ranchers and the money they make often help to fund a college education.
"A young livestock show exhibitor knows the animal they raise to show will someday enter the food system. Regardless if it's breeding heifer or sow or a steer or barrow ready for harvest, the youth participants are fully aware that at some point their 'project' will be processed and enter the food system. They're helping feed the world," the stock show said.