Friday, December 31, 2010

Drug smugglers misuse horses, worsening crisis

Drug smuggling from Mexico is exacerbating the problem of abandoned horses, Marc Lacey reports for The New York Times from Arizona: "Mexican traffickers strap heavy bales of marijuana or other illegal drugs to the horses’ backs and march them north through mountain passes and across rough desert terrain. With little food and water, some collapse under their heavy loads. Others are turned loose when the contraband gets far enough into Arizona to be loaded into vehicles." Mistreatment is common; some rescued horses have to wear hoof cushions (Times photo by Joshua Lott).

Some of the horses are sold and end up in Mexican slaughterhouses, but others "find their way to equine rescue operations, which help place them with homes," Lacey writes. Others are used by police agencies to chase smugglers. "State officials say the economic crisis has led to many more animals being let loose by owners no longer able to care for them. But the horses that are found with Mexican brands are presumed to be smuggling horses." (Read more)

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