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COVID-19 May Cause An Increase In Horse Surrenders

COVID-19 May Cause An Increase In Horse Surrenders

By Kaitlyn Mattson

Equine welfare experts are working to prevent and prepare for a potential surge in horse surrenders because of COVID-19–related financial challenges.

“Horses are expensive, there is no polite way to say it,” said Emily Stearns, the program manager of the Equine Welfare Data Collective, a program created by the United Horse Coalition to collect data and track equine welfare trends. “If people are losing their jobs, they’re at risk of downsizing and not being able to house their horse.”

In May, the unemployment rate was 13.3%, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Stearns said one of the differences between large and small animal sheltering is cost. While small animal veterinary care can be expensive, equine care can be three times the price.

“Financial awareness has always been a front-and-center issue in supporting at-risk horses,” Stearns said. “Financial difficulties are always going to have a large cause and effect in equine welfare.”

One of the goals of the United Horse Coalition is to help at-risk horses. In recent efforts, the coalition has released an Equine Resource Database for horse owners to find help.

“My hope is people are getting what they need,” said Ashley Harkins, director of the United Horse Coalition. “We have come up with resources for horses at risk to prevent horses from entering the sheltering system.”

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