Equine Advocates Brainstorm Ideas to Help Unwanted Horses

Expanding options for cash-strapped horse owners is key to reducing the number of unwanted horses in the United States, according to a group of equine welfare advocates who brainstormed the issue during a Feb. 18 meeting at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. The International Animal Welfare Training Institute (IAWTI), a division of the university's veterinary school, hosted the event.

The group of veterinarians, animal welfare authorities, and equine rescue operators identified low-cost veterinary services, including euthanasia and castration, and voluntary surrender as options for owners overwhelmed by horse keeping costs. They also called on welfare advocates to cooperate to raise public awareness and gather issue-related data in their communities.

"Right now, we have to find out what works and why it works," said session participant Beth DeCaprio, CEO of The Grace Foundation of Northern California, which provides care for abused and neglected horses.

Earlier this year, the IAWTI introduced a plan to create a nationwide network of equine rescues modeled after small animal shelters (read more). John Madigan, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, director of the IAWTI and the university's large animal hospital, said the ongoing search for solutions is critical.

"As many as 80,000 to 100,000 horses are reported each year as unwanted animals," Madigan said. "It's a crisis."

Still, DeCaprio doesn't envision a quick fix.

"We have to take small steps to solve this problem," she said.

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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