High number of abandoned, neglected horses being found as owners struggle to afford care; local ranch working to assist with costs

From dogs to cats and even horses, taking care of these animals is costing owners more and more each year.
Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 8:13 AM EDT
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PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Even though many reports indicate that inflation is cooling, prices on many goods are still too high for some consumers, one such example being pet food.

If you have a pet, then you know how expensive caring for them has gotten over the last few years. From dogs to cats and even horses, taking care of these animals is costing owners more and more each year.

Unfortunately, that’s led to some of animals being abandoned by their owners. We’re told that animal control is receiving more calls about people who can’t take care of their animals anymore because of the rising costs.

The horse stalls at Horton’s Rehab Ranch in Pender County are at maximum capacity, yet they’re still getting calls every day asking to take in more abandoned and unwanted horses.

We’re told the overall cause of this is cost. A bale of hay that used to be $19 is now almost double the price.

Places like Horton’s Rehab Ranch offer people relief if they are not able to financially support their horses. Jewell Horton, the founder of the ranch, says that they don’t want anymore horses because they’re at capacity, but what they want is to help the owner keep the horse at home where they belong.

“If you find yourself in just a short-term situation, like you have a vet bill that came up that you weren’t expecting, but your car just had to have work. So, you just don’t have that few $100 for that emergency vet visit, contact us, we may be able to help you with that temporary hardship,” said Horton.

Some people may not realize how many horses need homes. When people think of adoption centers or animal shelters, they typically think of cats and dogs, but the abandoned horse population is growing at an alarming rate.

Animal control and rehab ranches are seeing a higher number of underweight and starving horses left behind. Not only that, we’re told that people aren’t buying horses like they used to, and auctions aren’t as competitive in prices.

We went to the ranch and met its newest horse, Romeo, who was found severely starved and left behind three weeks ago.

“We’re getting a lot more calls on horses like Romeo here that are just starved because people literally can no longer afford to care for him properly, and couldn’t find someone to take them or didn’t know who to call to take them whatever the case may be. So animal control has to intervene and take the horses, which is what happened with this horse,” said Horton.

The main goal of Horton’s Rehab Ranch’s is to rehabilitate and rehome horses. We’re told that once they are strong and healthy again, the ranch wants people to adopt the animals and give them a good home, just as you would for any pet.

More information about Horton’s Rehab Ranch its mission cab be found here.