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Equine welfare: Unwanted horses — an epidemic
As numbers of unwanted horses multiply, experts cite economic woes, closure of processing plants


DVM360 MAGAZINE


Conclusions and recommendations

If Congress does act this year to stop U.S. horses from being shipped to Mexican or Canadian plants, and bars any future slaughter for processing in the United States, what options are left for unwanted horses?

Here are some that Lenz presented at the AAEP convention:

  • change of occupation (converting former performance horses to other activities, for example)
  • opening of more rescue or retirement facilities
  • adoption
  • donation to teaching/research institutions
  • donation to therapeutic riding programs
  • euthanasia at processing plants as long as that is allowed
  • euthanasia at the request of owners

What can equine veterinarians do now to help solve the unwanted-horse problem? Here's what the UHC suggests, as Lenz outlined for the AAEP:

  • Learn the facts and share them with horse owners, saddle clubs, breed associations and others.
  • Encourage the establishment of breed-specific rescue and adoption programs.
  • Encourage clients to own responsibly by considering the consequences before breeding or buying another horse, and to take responsibility for horses after they are no longer wanted or needed.

"We can't completely eliminate the unwanted-horse problem at this point," Lenz says, "because we can't prevent aging, injuries, poor athletes or unattractive horses. But we can minimize it by encouraging people to buy rather than to breed more horses, adopt rather than buying, finding alternative careers for horses and euthanizing rather than discarding (horses)."


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Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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