Copyright CtWatchdog.com 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.
“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.
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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