A survey recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Animals suggests that there could be an estimated 1.2 million potential homes for unwanted horses throughout the United States.
Orchestrated by a team from the American Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals and headed up by animal behaviorist Dr. Emily Weiss, the survey set out to estimate the potential homes available for the estimated 200,000 horses that are sent to slaughter, placed in rescue facilities or kept on federal land each year.
According to the findings of the survey, which was conducted via telephone, there are approximately 1.2 potential homes that have both the desire to house an unwanted horse and the resources to properly care for it.
These estimates for potential homes for unwanted horses were gleaned from a sample of 3036 adults over the age of 18 who were asked interview questions about their interest and capability to care for an adopted horse. Of the 3,036 adults interviewed, 17 percent were deemed the “horse-interested population,” which was defined as someone who currently owns a horse or who has owned a horse in the past five years or interested in owning a horse in the near future. Of the “horse-interested individuals,” 5.6 percent were classified as potential adopters.
“This study points to opportunities and need to increase communication and support between individuals and organizations that have unwanted horses to facilitate re-homing with people in their community willing to adopt them,” the article stated.
While the numbers vary widely depending on the source, it is estimated that there are 9.2 million “unwanted horses” in the U. S. The Unwanted Horse Coalition defines an unwanted horse as “horses no longer wanted by their current owner because they are old, injured, sick, unmanageable, fail to meet their owner's expectations or their owner can no longer afford them.”
According to the research team, horses that were relinquished most often were Thoroughbreds (22 percent) and Quarter Horses (19 percent).
The research team noted that the demographics of horses shipped to slaughter between 2002 and 2005 closely reflected the demographics of the U. S. horse population. Therefore, creating better ways to facilitate existing horse owners in re-homing their horses could impact the numbers of horses going to slaughter.
According to the 2015 U. S. census, the U. S. has a population of 321,418,820 and approximately 135 million households. When the demographics of the sample group are applied to these numbers, it is estimated that 2.28 million people would have interest in obtaining a horse and perceive they have the resources to adequately care for it.
Read more at HorseTalk New Zealand
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