Many people have been contacting local rescue organizations to surrender their horses because they simply can't afford to take care of the animals anymore. YNN's Katie Cummings has more about why owners are being forced to turn them in, and how shelters are handling the situation.
TONAWANDA, N.Y. — "Many times people are upset and crying on the phone because this is the last decision they ever wanted to make," said Joana Dychton, Lollypop Farm and Safety Manager.
Two Western New York animal rescues have seen an increase in people trying to surrender their horses lately due to the financial strain and a current shortage of hay.
The Erie County SPCA has had a spike of 50 to 75 percent more calls from distressed owners.
"They look at it and go, 'okay, I could have four horses before, maybe now I can only afford two or three,' and sometimes people wait too long to make that decision. They don’t realize 'okay, now I really don’t have enough hay to feed my horse until spring,'" said Patricia Burg, Erie County SPCA Assistant Farm Manager.
The Tonawanda facility doesn’t have enough room for the animals. They typically refer people to email networks, foster homes or Lollypop Farm near Rochester, since they have acres of land.
"We have taken in a number of horses in say the last three or four months; cost was each one. They just can’t afford the cost anymore, whether that's finding hay or just cost in general," said Dychton.
Lollypop Farm usually takes in the animals if there is no where else for owners to turn.
"What we try to do is help the owners find a place for the horse before they have to admit it. So we have a listserve and groups and face book pages that we can post the horses on trying to find a home for the horse before they have to make that decision to admit it," said Dychton.
With the price of hay doubling and even tripling, many can’t afford the full cost of caring for the animals. While Lollypop Farm has a good supply of the product, the Erie County SPCA is seeking donations.
"If we take on anymore horses or animals that eat hay right now, we won’t have enough ourselves. We’ll be looking for a little extra supply here or there, definitely," said Burg.