Horses Feeling Impact of Ailing Economy

Animal control workers in some rural Kentucky communities have a larger problem than stray dogs and cats--much larger. Stray horses have been turning up and animal advocates blame horse owners hurt by the faltering economy.

"People who used to be able to afford their horses now can no longer afford their horses," said Ginny Grulke, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Council. "These are not people who are ruthless or inhumane. In general, it's an economic problem, and they have no options. They don't know what to do with their animals."

Lancaster resident Connie Short said a small black horse showed up on her farm in August. Despite her best efforts, she couldn't find the owner of the hungry stray that she fed for about two months until animal control workers found a foster home.

"Nobody wanted him," Short said. "It was like somebody had dropped off a dog or a cat."

While top thoroughbreds still sell for high prices, Grulke said it's a difficult time to sell pleasure horses that are common across Kentucky. While the causes for that are varied, Grulke said the economy is a major factor.

Kentucky's jobless rate has soared over the past year, hitting 7.1% in September. Chief state labor market analyst Justine Detzel said nearly every sector of the state's economy have suffered job losses. She blamed a prolonged manufacturing slump, cutbacks in government spending, and a clampdown by consumers on discretionary spending.

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The Associated Press

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