More Horses Need Homes During Recession

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

With an unstable economy, some people are making the difficult choice to give up their pets.

Not just cats and dogs, but horses too.

In North Central Wisconsin there are volunteers who ensure horses are well taken care of.

Carol Barwick, of Weston, has always loved animals. Owning her miniature horse Perfection was a dream come true.

"He was my best friend, my confidante, he was a good share of my life. I spent every afternoon out there with him," she said.

But when high gas prices and family medical expenses skyrocketed, she had to cut back.

"I knew I had to make the decision but it was horrible, it was hard, very hard."

Perfection needed a new home.

Barwick had heard of Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation in Pittsville. The organization rescues horses from people who can no longer care for them, and adopts them to those who can.

"We're seeing a lot more calls from people who probably normally were in a very stable environment, had a good home, good paying jobs and ended up donating their horses when they never thought they'd be in that position before," said Scott Bayerl, executive director and founder of Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation.

The cost and commitment of owning a horse varies on the animal's age, health and breed. But Bayerl says each of the horses at the foundation cost between $50 and $200 a month on average to care for. Having your horse boarded can cost between $200 and $600 monthly.

Midwest is at full capacity with 25 horses, and each day about a dozen people call hoping they'll rescue another horse.

The horses come from a variety of backgrounds but if it weren't for the foundation many of them would be in very bad situations or even slaughtered.

Midwest is very particular about people who come to adopt. They use an in-depth screening process to make sure anyone who's seriously interested in a horse will be a suitable owner. Adoption fees range from free to $500.

After the adoption, the organization holds onto ownership for five years, keeping updated records on each horse, ensuring it's in a good environment.

"We answer to the people that trust us with their horses, so if someone brings us a horse and says find a good home for it, and make sure it's well cared for we take that pretty seriously," Bayerl said.

They also put the adopter in contact with the donor. Carol Barwick knows her former miniature horse is in a good home, because she's kept in contact with the adoptive owner who lives in La Crosse.

"She's allowed me to come down and visit him. I've been down there twice and that was wonderful to be able to give him another hug," she said.

And for those horses who've been in the program for years, they too can be assured they'll be well taken care of.

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