A bad economy can cause problems many could never anticipate. Because of the expense associated with raising and caring for farm animals, some people find themselves no longer able to pay for their livestock. A new program on Cape Cod will help those struggling financially to find homes for their horses and other beloved farm animals.
A bad economy can cause problems many could never anticipate. Because of the expense associated with raising and caring for farm animals, some people find themselves no longer able to pay for their livestock.
A new program on Cape Cod will help those struggling financially to find homes for their horses and other beloved farm animals. The Cape and Islands Farm Bureau Horse Rescue and Referral Service will also help with emergency expenses if necessary and adoptions for those unable to care for their horses physically or financially.
“A lady called me because she’s elderly and feels she can’t take care of a pony and miniature horse anymore,” says program coordinator Leslie Spencer of Cotuit.
“People all over the country have been letting their horses loose in the woods and state forests because they can’t afford it. Horses are usually a luxury and those are the first thing to go,” says Spencer, adding the need for horse rescues is higher in a down economy.
The program started in May and has placed 20 horses in new homes across the Cape and assisted many other livestock owners with grain or hay.
“I place them directly from the home they are in to a forever home, not to people who want to buy and sell. That’s too stressful on the animals,” Spencer explains.
Spencer applied for a $2,500 grant to establish this program under the Cape and Islands Farm Bureau. A similar program is getting ready to launch in Plymouth.
Expenses for horses and other livestock can add up.
It costs $5 a day to feed one horse, according to Spencer. In addition, there are added expenses including $25 to trim a horses’ hoofs, $65 for an emergency vet call and $125 for corrective shoes for one horse.
“I’ve probably talked to 50 or 60 horse owners and resolved their issues before they had to give them up,” she says.
Spencer has owned horses for 35 years and is a director of the Cape and Island Farm Bureau and a judge for various horse shows and the annual horse farm of distinction awards.
“There are a lot of horse rescues, but under the farm bureau umbrella we have a very good reputation,” says Spencer.
Horses are timid animals, so Spencer says it is important to reassure them.
“I get them to know the new person. The adoptee goes to their home and gets to know the horse. I have them do some routine maintenance so the horse is familiar with them when they move,” she says.
Spencer says there will always be a need for horse rescues.
“Thirty-five years ago, our first horse was a rescue,” she says.
“People have been rescuing horses forever, but to have it done in a legal, organized way is much better.”