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Dean Hoffman's Blog


There must be a better way

Published: December 17, 2008 7:57 am ET

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I read a very disturbing report in USA Today about the number of "abandoned horses" being on the rise in the USA.

The incidents cited were from Oregon, Wyoming and other western states, but horses can be abandoned at any location where someone feels he won't be seen. A veterinarian is quoted as saying, "Folks have to decide whether to feed kids or feed the horses."

Part of the reason for the increase in abandoned horses cited in the article was the closure of the last equine slaughterhouse. Now some people with unwanted horses feel that they have no option except to turn horses loose and let them fend for themselves.

That can sound romantic, but the reality isn't so pretty. If they simply believe that a wild horse herd will adopt the interlopers, they're rather naive. An official with the Nevada Dept. of Agriculture said, "It ends up being a bad ending for that horse."

Abandoned horses are subject to disease, starvation, attacks from other horses and predators. It ain't pretty.

There must be a better way. Horse owners have a responsibility to treat each horse with respect and dignity. Suffering can be ended. I've read a plea for euthanasia centers where a horse can be brought to end its suffering and facilitate disposal of the remains. Sure, there would be a fee involved, but it's sure a lot better than simply turning them loose to fend for themselves.

We love our horses. That's a given. I hope we all love them enough to make certain they're treated with dignity at the end of life.

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