By Tom R. Lenz, DVM, MS, DACT|
Horses in the United States no longer wanted have been sold or discarded by their owners throughout history, but it is only in the last few years this subset of the horse population has been designated “unwanted”. To many, the horse is a symbol of beauty, grace, and the American West. A study of American attitudes toward animals in 1980, found the horse to be one of the top 3 most beloved animals. (1) Public sentiment and misinformation provided by animal activist groups have greatly complicated the unwanted horse issue and the discussion of end-of-life decisions for horses. Adding to the divisiveness in the unwanted horse debate is the fact the American horse industry and the Federal government classify horses as “livestock” whereas the non-horse owning public considers the horse a “companion animal” or pet.