Unwanted Horse Population Growing In Oklahoma

Saturday, October 17th 2009, 9:35 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

GLENPOOL, OK -- The struggling economy has hit nearly every industry and it has trickled down to the horse industry, intensifying the unwanted horse population.

Saturday, Legacy Equine Center in Glenpool held a client appreciation day. They also brought in a guest speaker to help raise awareness about unwanted horses.

"In the last few years it's almost been like the perfect storm. With the economy, with the closing of the horse processing plant in the last few years and just when there's more horses and less demand," said Dr. Cynthia Gutierrez, veterinarian.

The reasons a horse becomes unwanted are the same for any animal who winds up in a shelter. They're blamed for being too expensive or the owner may lose their job. They can be old and injured. The owner may lose interest or the horse is too unmanageable. Whatever the reason, the unwanted horse population is raising in Oklahoma.

"A lot of what we see is horses that are being abandoned. That people can't afford to feed or don't want to keep anymore," said Dr. Matt Klotz, DVM Legacy Equine Center.

And in 2007, U.S. slaughterhouses were forced to close, leaving 170,000 homeless horses.

"But what do you do with the thousands of horses that used to go that direction? We have to have some type of plan to take care of them," said Dr. Wade Spradley, DVM Legacy Equine Center.

In an effort to raise awareness to the growing problem, Legacy Equine Center brought in guest speaker Dr. Cynthia Gutierrez. She has lobbied in Washington D.C. to educate congress about the health and welfare for horses.

"It has been an eye-opening situation, but I do think there is hope on the horizon by building awareness, by educating people to own responsibly," said Dr. Cynthia Gutierrez.

An education Legacy Equine Center hopes to help provide.

"It's taking a community effort of the horse industry to try and figure out the best solution to take care of those unwanted horses," said Dr. Matt Klotz.