Connecticut Horses Being Dumped On Rescue Groups As Economy Pressures Owners To Give Up Pets

The CT Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Regulation and Inspection, often helps and works with rescue operations to save and rehabilitate abused horses. Here are photos of a horse at time of seizure and after rehabilitation.

Copyright 2012

Mary Tyler Moore recently remarked she’d like to come back as a horse in her next life. Not a good choice, even in Connecticut, which has a reputation for being one of the wealthiest states in the nation. Many horse owners are eliminating the feedbag and basic care so they can feed their families in an economic recovery that fails to bring many along, including the rescue operations that now have way too many mouths to feed and too few funds.

As tens of thousands of Connecticut families still struggle to make ends meet, horse rescue operations in the state have been hit hard by the economic crisis, as they fight an uphill battle trying to save more unwanted and abused horses with a shrinking pool of funds. (YOU CAN FIND A LIST OF VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATIONS ON THE LAST PAGE OF THIS ARTICLE)

Since the economy crashed in 2008, horse owners have been dumping horses on rescue operations and at auctions where they are sold for slaughter in Mexico and Canada.

Buying a horse is not expensive. It is keeping the horse healthy and well fed that costs real money. A good young horse can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. Taking good care of the animal can cost thousands a year.

Horse's name is Linus. He was seized in Meriden in May of 2011. As you can see he has rehabilitated into great shape. Just a few weeks ago he was adopted out to a family in Warren.

“We’ve seen numerous instances where people don’t have enough money to feed their horses; they can barely feed themselves,” says George Krivda, legislative program manager for Connecticut’s Department of Agriculture. “We try to work with folks, helping them feed their horses, so we don’t have to seize them. We also work with the rescue network. But they are at a breaking point.”

Prior to 2003, the state’s Animal Control Division would work with rescue operations to help with abandoned, abused and neglected horses. But as the division started to deal with a greater number of horses involved in abuse cases, 20 to 30 horses per case, and in some instances considerably more, it became clear it was too much for the rescue operations to handle, says Ray Connors, supervisor of Connecticut’s Animal Control Division, Department of Agriculture.

After Linus received some TLC

So the state built a 22-stall barn at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic, to rehabilitate horses involved in abuse cases. Here, they can be safe and rehabilitated with the help of the inmates, Connors says. “Sometimes I think it’s a financial issue, where people are leaving horses at boarders because they can’t afford to pay their bills. Then sometimes, I think it’s a hoarding mentality – people don’t know their limitations.”

Whether it’s a financial issue, selfishness or irresponsibility, as some rescuers say, the fallout has the state, rescue operations and volunteers working well into the night to save as many horses as they can. Even when people sell their animals at auctions for a few bucks or have them euthanized, which vets are reluctant to do if a horse is healthy, the state and rescue organizations are grappling with a huge problem.

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11 Comments on "Connecticut Horses Being Dumped On Rescue Groups As Economy Pressures Owners To Give Up Pets"

  1. Thank you so much for doing this story. I am a volunteer at H.O.R.S.E. of Connecticut so I know firsthand how much help abused and neglected horses need. We recently took in three stallions who need extensive medical care. It’s a struggle but so worth it as we watch them recover.

    Thanks again for caring enough to write this.

    • kathleen Kiley | April 27, 2012 at 2:09 pm |

      Debbie, Hello. It was a great story to write about — I am so impressed with the dedication to save these incredible animals. I hope this helps educate people about the problem you are all dealing with and that you get more financial and volunteer help.

  2. Using the correctional institution to rehabilitate the horses is a great idea and more cost effective. We have helped several abused horses over the years and it is very rewarding.

    • kathleen Kiley | April 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

      Agreed. We’ll be following up on that aspect of the story. Thanks Abby — great name.

  3. What is the best way to find out about volunteer opportunities and where they are most needed?

    • George Gombossy | April 29, 2012 at 8:44 am |

      At the Last page of the story there is a list of volunteer organizations in ct

  4. Joan Hinchcliffe | May 2, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

    Fairly good story but just to clarify one confusing sentence in your story: horses go from auction to slaughter but not rescue to slaughter.

    I have two rescue horses and love them both. It is very expensive to keep horses. It must be an agonizing thing to give up any animal because of our economy.

    Two conclusions one might draw from this story are: 1) Contribute money and/or time to rescues if you possibly can and 2)understand who you are voting for, really understand, so that this economy can be turned around.

    • kathleen Kiley | September 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm |

      These are all great thoughtful replies. Appreciate you taking the time to read this story.

  5. Thank you for writing this article! I am a boarder and volunteer at Tara Farm Rescue in Coventry, where I adopted my own horse. I cannot stress enough that, especially in today’s economy, one can buy a horse for cheap, but taking care of a horse is a whole other story! The Tara Farm website, listed here and at the end of this article, has an “Education” section that those interested in adopting a horse might want to check out. It gives an estimate of $5,000 a year as the cost of owning a horse, if one includes food, board, and vet and farrier care. In the year that I’ve had my horse, I have personally paid $700 for veterinary care due to an injury, so you might want to bump up the estimate to $6,000 just in case. I can understand the difficult decision a family can have to make between putting food on the table and grain in the bucket, but PLEASE talk to a reputable rescue before you get to this point! If you are having financial issues and surrender your horse before he begins to starve, you will be making a responsible, respectable decision, and both the rescue and your horse with thank you for it.

  6. Thank you for this article… I see so many farms that should “NEVER” have animals on them! More needs to be done and I hope more action is taken!

  7. Wildfire Farms Equine Rescue is located in East Granby CT – we will hosting an open barn on May 19th that is open to the public. There will be many fun activities and demos, food, items for sale and a silent auction to help raise funds for the care of our rescues. Stop by and see us 🙂

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