Oregon Summit Reviews Abandoned Horse Issues

U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Fred Perl came face-to-face with the plight of unwanted horses on Oct. 17 when he assisted in the rescue of Trooper, a 6-year-old Arabian gelding that had been shot in the head and abandoned in the Deschutes National Forest near Sisters, Ore. Three days later, on Oct. 21, Perl was among 25 law enforcement officers, equine rescue operators, and other members of the Oregon equestrian community who met to brainstorm solutions to unwanted horse issues at a Humane Society of the Unites States (HSUS)-sponsored summit.

According to HSUS Oregon Director Scott Beckstead, the exact number of unwanted horses residing in Oregon and elsewhere is impossible to determine. But Perl's experience and an economy-driven spike in the number of horses residing at rescues nationwide indicate that unwanted horse numbers are on the rise. In response, summit members created an action plan aimed at relieving horses at risk.

"We want to establish hay and feed assistance, a foster care network, and euthanasia assistance for owners, and create care standards for rescues and foster homes," Beckstead said.

Ways to promote strict enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and meaningful abuse and neglect prosecutions are also part of the plan.

"It's important that people know there are rules and regulations about animal abuse and abandonment, and that those rules will be enforced," said Perl.

The summit will reconvene in November to consider other strategies, including breeders' roles in addressing unwanted horse issues.

"This must be a collaborative effort," Beckstead said. "The summit is an important first step."

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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