Have room in your heart, barn or stable for a horse? Animal rescue groups across the country are galloping toward a crisis: A record number of horses that need homes and you can help!
“With the rising costs of hay and feed and the downturn of our economy, the Unwanted Horse Coalition has found more owners that are unable to afford their horses,” says Ericka Caslin director of the coalition for the American Horse Council. “Many owners are forced to surrender their horses to equine care facilities. The issue is that the majority of our nation’s care facilities are at maximum capacity and must turn horses away.”
In New England, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals isn’t turning horses away–but it took in an all time high number of horses in 2011: Seventy-six! Some of the animals arrived at the MSPCA’s Nevins Farm in desperate shape, ghastly thin, hungry and suffering from various health problems that need expensive, ongoing care.
The reasons the horses arrive at the shelter are heartbreaking. Some are brought in by distraught owners who, for various financial and other reasons, can no longer cope with them. Others are brought in after an animal cruelty investigation.
“Many of the horses that came to us in 2011 were in truly desperate shape: Very thin, suffering from health concerns ranging from parasites to overgrown hooves and worse,” said Melissa Ghareeb, manager of the MSPCA’s Equine & Farm Animal Center at Nevins Farm. “The first thing these horses need is warmth, safety and food. They need to recover from the trauma of neglect. The most important role we can play in the early stages is to just meet these basic needs for safety and nourishment.”
After the horses have had some time to settle in at Nevins the real work begins, and check out the before and after slide show photos of just some amazing success stories. The MSPCA works with veterinarians and barn staff members to nurse them back to health and also spends time socializing the horses so that ultimately they will make wonderful companions. A big outreach effort then takes place to get the word out to the foster and adopter communities in hopes of placing them into loving, forever homes. The flood of surrenders never stops – and they get more every year. Ghareeb says, “They will always do our best to meet the needs of these horses.”
What can you do to help? Caslin asks that people reach out to donate and volunteer with their local horse rescue group, she also wants more to consider the issues of overbreeding and research the need for gelding clinics–which are kinda like having your dog neutered.
The MSPCA welcomes assistance. “Every year the cost of caring for these horses increases. From hay and feed to shavings and medical care, our resources are stretched to the max,” said Jean Weber, director of animal protection. “The generous contributions we receive have been truly appreciated and helped us to help the animals, but with the increasing number of horses, the need for additional resources is great. We continue to ask the community of horse lovers to support our good work through donations so we may continue to do the best we can for the horses that need our help.”
This year the MSPCA wants to implement some new and innovative programs that will help horse owners who may need some temporary assistance in caring for their horse in an effort to prevent surrendering the horse. The goal is always to keep the horse in a loving home if at all possible.