Morris Animal Foundation wants to know why owners are abandoning horses


Its unwanted horse conference leads to a plan for scientific fact-gathering on the subject.

Every day, horses all over the world are neglected or abandoned. Unfortunately, little is known about the reasons behind relinquishment due to a lack of accurate data. A group of equine professionals hopes to change that.

More than 30 equine experts and animal welfare enthusiasts gathered in May at the Unwanted Horse Summit, a conference held by the Morris Animal Foundation and designed to identify risk factors for horse relinquishment and develop intervention strategies. A similar approach was used in 1992 to address the issue of unwanted dogs and cats, and euthanasia numbers dropped about 75 percent from 1985 to 2005.

“Our hope is to utilize scientifically based approaches to determine the magnitude of the unwanted horse problem,” says Dr. Patricia Olson, president and CEO of the Morris Animal Foundation. “If we know why people give up their horses, we can identify measures to keep horses in their homes.”

A scientific advisory group that attended the summit will provide the foundation with a research plan to acquire relevant data.

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