Friday, November 27, 2009

Homes for unwanted horses get harder to find

We have often reported, most recently in October, how the recession and lack of U.S. horse slaughter plants had caused a glut of horses. Now horse rescues are having to turn unwanted horses away, Jack Brammer of the Frederick News Post in Maryland reports. According to a 2009 survey of horse industry officials, conducted by The Unwanted Horse Coalition, more than 90 percent believed the number of unwanted, neglected and/or abused horses to be growing.

Horses removed from racing due to injury or poor performance are sometimes recommissioned as event horses, personal riding horses or family pets, but many fall through the cracks, Brammer reports. Horse rescues, like other industries dependent on charitable giving, have been hit hard by the recession, while the number of unwanted horses is increasing beyond their capacity.

The survey also revealed six of 10 rescue facilities are at or near capacity and, on average, turn away nearly 40 percent of the horses brought to them. The closing of the last of the U.S. processing plants, changes in the demands for certain breeds, indiscriminate breeding and the high cost of euthanasia were all given as reasons for the increased number of unwanted horses. Diana Pikulski, executive director of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, told Brammer, "The Thoroughbred industry needs to show the American public that it is taking affirmative steps to protect its horses by developing industry-wide mechanisms for humane retirement." (Read more)

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