SMITHFIELD, N.C. — Animal control officers said Tuesday that they are seeing more cases of malnourished horses as animal owners deal with the struggling economy.
With some owners unable to take care of their horses, some rescue farms that take in the animals are running out of space.
Jennifer Malpass, regional director of the U.S. Equine Rescue League, has 10 rescue horses on her field in Franklin County. The horses are skinny and look malnourished.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see so many of these horses coming in in this condition,” Malpass said.
Some horses rehabilitating in Johnston County are emaciated. Their owner surrendered them to Animal Control.
Animal Control officers in Johnston County said the horses are victims of a struggling economy. Horse owners are facing rising costs, a sluggish economy and a lack of grass due to the recent drought.
“Feed prices are going up. Gas prices are going up. Everything is going up,” Johnston County Animal Control Officer Roger Davis said.
North Carolina is on pace to have more horses sent to rescues this year than in 2007, Davis said.
Horse prices are down, in some cases to less than $100 per horse.
“You’re getting your first-time owners that’s never had a horse … going and buying a horse and then not knowing what to do with it, how to care for it,” Davis said.
There are also few farms available that can take those horses and get them back to health, Malpass said.
“Horses are expensive to keep compared to small animals, so they usually hurt first and worst,” Malpass said.