You Asked: Homes for Horses

By on January 29, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Today I’d like to respond to a query that came in after last week’s blog about the National Call-In Day for Horses.

Q. If people can’t afford to take care of their horses, besides slaughter and auction, what other avenues do they have? Just a question. There are not enough foster homes or adoption homes set up for the unwanted.

A. Owning a horse comes with responsibilities and horse owners, just like caretakers of dogs and cats, must be prepared to make humane decisions at all stages of the animal’s life. Providing food and water, protection from the elements, and paying for needed veterinary care are just the basics. In addition, horse owners must act responsibly should they decide they can no longer care for the horse. They can give or sell the horse to another caring home; they can relinquish or donate the horse to a rescue facility or therapeutic riding center; or, if no other option exists, they can have the horse humanely euthanized by a licensed veterinarian.

Mariah and Sahara, two horses rescued from slaughter by The HSUS
© The HSUS
Spared from slaughter, these horses now live in sanctuary.

While making the decision to euthanize an animal should never be made in a lax manner, humane euthanasia is generally a superior option to sending a horse to a suspect purchaser at an auction. It’s at auction where "killer buyers " often misrepresent their intentions and purchase horses for slaughter. They cram dozens of horses into cattle trucks and ship them, often more than 1,000 miles, to a slaughterhouse in Mexico or Canada, and the horses there suffer a grim and harsh fate.

The cost of humane euthanasia and disposal for a horse is comparable to the cost of one month’s care and is simply a part of responsible horse ownership. Frankly, if someone can’t afford the cost to euthanize a horse, they can’t afford to own a horse in the first place.

The horse rescue community in the United States is growing and The HSUS has a number of programs aimed at helping horse rescues operate as effectively as possible. For example, through a partnership with Pets911, we have developed a searchable horse adoption database. Last year, we partnered with several other national animal welfare groups and some of the best horse rescues in the country to form the Homes for Horses Coalition. We are in the midst of compiling a national database of horse rescues and, thus far, have identified hundreds of active facilities. In the coming weeks, I’ll share more news about these efforts.


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