WASHINGTON, January 8, 2014 — Maryland is facing an epidemic of horses being abandoned by their owners who are no longer able to afford the care and upkeep of the animals. Experts believe the trend is due to the recent economic downturn.
According to Maryland Animal Rescue, “Horses are being neglected, abused, and abandoned at an alarming rate. The reasons a horse would need to be rescued are quite varied. Some horse owners in the Western U.S. have lost their homes and land to foreclosure, leaving nowhere for their horses to go. These horses are sometimes abandoned in the plains and deserts, where they often die of slow exposure.
“Droughts, rising food and fuel prices, and other economic pressures mean that some owners can no longer afford to feed and care for their horses. Other horses are purchased by inexperienced people for sentimental reasons or as gifts for children, but their owners are unprepared for the ongoing expense and involvement of caring for the horses.”
Days End Farm Horse Rescue, a non-profit organization in Carroll County, Md. that rehabilitates horses and puts them up for adoption, told WTOP News that it ran out of space in 2012. Unfortunately, since then increasing amounts of horses have been abandoned.
It currently lists more than a dozen horses available for adoption on its website.
An organization called A Million Horses posts pictures of neglected horses on its website.
One photo tragically features an abandoned mare, starving and literally frozen to the ground. A veterinarian was called to euthanize the animal; however the episode only underscores the predicament of the animals.
CBS News reports that part of the problem is the fact that hay, the main food for horses, has become dramatically more expensive. Some reports indicate the price has increased more than 300% in past years.
According to WTOP “Estimates from the Humane Society of the United States place horse maintenance, not including initial costs or rental fees, at more than $2,500 per year. This figure includes the cost of feed, hay and grains, veterinary and dental care, farrier services twice a year, bedding and vaccines. Depending on the location of the horse, boarding fees could cost an additional $3,600 per year.”
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