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Diesel costs forcing Central Coast horse owners to abandon their pets

KSBY - San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

Diesel costs forcing Central Coast horse owners to abandon their pets

Posted: Aug 4, 2008 10:18 PM

Monday, August 4, 2008
Reported by: Stacy Daniel

Diesel prices are at record levels. That means the cost of everything else has gone up, and the situation is forcing some animal owners to abandon their horses.

In the last couple of weeks, at least four horses have been abandoned in San Luis Obispo County.

Hay is for horses, and the cost to feed them is nothing to scoff at. Just seven years ago, a bale of hay cost about $7.00. That same bale now costs about $20. To keep an average size horse well fed, it takes about 20 pounds of hay every day. That adds up to about $100 a month.

Keep in mind that is just in hay alone. Should the animal need to go the veterinarian, the costs only skyrocket from there.

With the economy in a tailspin, some horse owners are dumping their animals at local borders or simply abandoning them.

Sarah Hollebrands owns a rescued horse.

"People are just throwing them away, leaving them somewhere or letting them loose to not even think about," said Hollebrands.

One horse, appropriately named "Chance," was given a second chance when trainer Katie Giffith rescued him.

Griffith said, "Over the years, I've probably had 15 horses left with me. Before, it was more sporadic. Now, it's more, I've had more and more being left here. They know that I'm not going to send them off to the meat buyer."

Sadly, horse experts said they are only seeing the problem get worse. Hollebrands has noticed a horrific trend.

"You're seeing a lot more of them all the time. I didn't see them at all when I first started riding, and now it seems like at least everyone has got a horse that was rescued from somewhere, and a lot of them have been highly trained, incredible horses," Griffith said. "I met one that was a retired police horse and was in line to go to the slaughterhouse and got rescued."

Once a horse is rescued, the healing can begin, but physically and mentally it is a long process.

Horse experts are urging people who are thinking about getting a horse as a pet to do some research. Figure out how much it will cost you to board and feed the animal, and if you think you afford it, consider rescuing an animal that has been abandoned.

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