2009 Unwanted Horses Survey
Addressing the causes and magnitude of the unwanted horse population in the United States, this research found that 90% of survey respondents believe that the number of unwanted, neglected, and abused horses is increasing. The vast majority (87%) said that over the last year unwanted horses have become a “big problem,” compared with only 22% who said the same thing three years ago. The number of horse euthanizations is on the rise.
Contributing factors to the unwanted horse problem are the economy, the closing of U.S. horse slaughter facilities, changes in breed demand (including indiscriminate breeding), and the high costs of euthanasia and carcass disposal.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of the equine rescue/retirement facilities surveyed report that they are full or near capacity and that they turn away 38% of the horses brought to them, on average.
Survey respondents believe the best solutions to address the issue of unwanted horses include:
- the education of owners to purchase and own horses responsibly
- the increase in the ability of private rescue and retirement facilities to care for unwanted horses
- the reopening of U.S. processing plants
- the increase of options and resources for euthanizing and disposing of unwanted horses