A Silent Tragedy of Suffering, Starvation and Death – Horse Neglect & Abuse

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All across America horses are suffering.  They are being abused, abandoned, starved, left to fend for themselves in the Wild, and killed. The fall of our economy has taken a lethal toll on one of our most hard-working, loyal and noble animal companions.

Whether they are pets or part of a working farm or ranch, as owners are losing businesses, property, jobs and cash, they are having a tough time supporting their horses, who often can live up to 30 years of age and need large amounts of feed, exercise, and veterinary care.  As a result, depending upon how owners treat their animals when they are themselves struggling and out-of-pocket, many horses are starving and suffering unspeakable abuse.

starving white horse

Even as horse shelters are proliferating around the country, there are not nearly enough of them to help all the horses in trouble.  In many areas around the country, there are no shelters at all.  Having nowhere to send their horses and no money to feed them or call a Vet to put them down, owners are often abandoning them to fend for themselves and starve.   When horses are starving, they have a tendency to eat sand just to fill their bellies.  As the sand works its way through their systems, they can actually die a slow and painful death unless there is early enough intervention.

In areas of the country where there are herds of wild horses, many owners are just sending their horses off to join a feral herd.  This is a cruel solution because wild horses do not like this intrusion of helpless animals.  They invariably fight them until they leave.  Having no idea how to forage for food or to survive in the wild, they become isolated, weakened, sick or hurt, and then prey for coyotes and cougars.  Old horses are especially vulnerable to attack by predators.

Wild Horses

Recently, right here in unincorporated Athens in LA County, the “Hill” stable’s owner and operator was charged with numerous abuses and violations, followed by a dangerous fire in late June, in which three horses and a goat died and all of the horses were threatened.  This precarious situation prompted the Department of Public-Works to close down the stables, and evacuate all of the horses.  The owners who live in the area and have low incomes were unable to afford the better, more expensive stable costs of $500 or more a month (the “Hill” stable owner charged only around $100 a month, making up the difference by illicit gambling and drug sales on the premises).  Most of the horse owners have therefore had to move their animals 100 or more miles away to find affordable stables. These unfortunate animals whose owners are far away, will most likely lose the daily attention paid to them by their owners. Many will even be denied daily feedings, because their owners will be hard pressed to reach them when they are so far away. Dis-enfranchised, helpless and voiceless animals, suffering the consequences of our frailty, selfishness and failure is most certainly a tragedy if ever there was one.

Here are some good online sources to further investigate the situation:

Equine Advocates is a wonderful website that lays out the issues and give a concerned citizen some options for helping.

The Humane Society of the United States has a great deal of information about the situation on its website

The Hay Bank helps horse owners who need funds to feed their horses, including an online application to fill out and send in for help.

Dudes Ranch Equine Rescue Center is right here in Southern California, and  is full of information and opportunities to help.

If you are interested in adopting a horse in California, there are many that need a home right now.

Is there a solution to end the sad and unfortunate plight of these horses?  What do you think? Leave your thoughts below.

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