At a time when the incidence of unemployment and foreclosures remains high, what happens to the horses of people affected by job loss or the loss of their home, or both?
Society often hears about homeless dogs and cats. The media covers what most consider “pets” extensively and there are many national organizations that work toward saving or helping the smaller animals. Dogs and cats are offered for adoption during the morning news programs and each televised news program has some sort of “Pet of the Day” or “Pet of the Week” feature that shows a dog or cat in need of a home. Occasionally there is a rabbit or other small animal featured. How often does mainstream media cover the horses that suffer the same abuses, over breeding and abandonment that we hear about with the more common household pets?
Equestrians are very aware of what is going on in the horse world today. Emails circulate in the horsey folks' inboxes about horses being set free in the middle of nowhere, or left in corrals or pastures at someone’s home in the middle of the night. Most of the public remains unaware of how bad things are for equines in the present economy.
Horses are ending up at auction lots, also called “feed lots”, in record numbers because so many need homes. I have included pictures of horses that I know were abandoned very recently, and as you can see they are not all starving, but some are, or were. The horses that end up at the feed lots are headed for the meat market in other countries. They become dinner for someone somewhere or dog food or something. It may be ugly to actually think about, but it is the truth.
Unfortunately this sort of thing is happening more and more. I receive emails almost daily from friends and associates with information about horses being given away “due to the economy.” Horses are posted on many websites for free or for “adoption.” Sometimes folks will advertise their horse for $1 just so it doesn’t seem free.
I am not going to talk about horse slaughter at this time. I merely want to bring to light how prolific abandonment has become for horses. In the past two weeks my associates and I have helped save 47 horses off of a feedlot. It all started with a Facebook posting.
Someone we all knew wanted to help save a horse. The 2-year-old Palomino filly was pictured at a water trough with a plea for help coming from the post. I decided I’d help, so I clicked the picture and up popped a whole diary containing photos and brief information on 33 young horses, all under the age 2. All were scheduled to be taken to the “meat market”. I had initially planned on donating some funds to help the Facebook friend save the Palomino. Instead I wound up spending a whole day raising funds to save all 33 horses. Friends in Ramona, Murrietta, Temecula, Bonita, Reno (yes Nevada), Bishop, Descanso, Jamul and all over Southern California came together on Facebook ad saved all 33 lives that day! I even sent in the entire rescue fee for one little 8-month-old filly to get her off the lot. I have named her "Ari" and she awaits transport to Ramona. From what we’ve been able to find out a “breeder” went out of business and this is where the horses ended up, the feed lot.
Over the next week there were 14 more horses saved from the same feed lot, and it got much more difficult to find donors to help save the young horses. I never did find out where these 14 came from but they are all safe and sound in a lovely holding facility until they are picked up by their new owners.
This story will continue in the coming weeks. The problem is so much worse than most people can even imagine. These are not the 8 lb cat or 60 lb dog that just about anyone can take home. Horses are 1,200 pounds and don’t fit in the back yard of most homes, so what is someone to do when he or she loses everything? Desperate times call for desperate measures. There is not a glimmer of improvement for our economy yet. Join me next week as this story continues.