The Unwanted Horse is a credible issue in the United States. Developing solutions for managing unwanted horses must act in accordance with California and federal regulations regarding the sale and transportation of horses for the purpose of slaughter for human consumption, and with the CVMA policy regarding humane euthanasia practices.
Since U.S. equine processing facilities were closed in 2007 and municipal shelters for horses in local communities are limited or non-existent, owners must take responsibility for securing alternative solutions for their unwanted animals.
Possible alternatives include: re-homing horses through gift, donation or sale, voluntary relinquishment to rescue facilities or animal control agencies, or euthanasia. Veterinary involvement is recommended for any unwanted horse with health issues, or when an owner is considering euthanasia.
To effectively reduce the number of unwanted horses and to improve their welfare, the horse industry, horse owners, and the veterinary community should develop and participate in effective educational programs focused on the responsibilities of equine ownership. The ultimate responsibility for the welfare of the horse is the owner who will be held accountable.