Doubled hay prices leading to more slaughtered horses, rescues fear

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. -- Horse rescue groups across the Front Range fear more Colorado horses will end up in Mexican slaughterhouses because hay prices have roughly doubled since last year thanks, in part, to on-going drought.

"Hay is extremely high," Lanya Clinard, founder of Safe Landing Horse Rescue, told Contact7.

She said hay bales that typically cost about $65 a piece last year now cost between $90 and $120 per bale.  As a result, she said she's had to cut back on the number of horses she cares for at any given time.

"Typically, it's between 20 to 35 horses," Clinard said.  "Right now, I'm at 12 ... or fewer in some cases."

She said the consequence of fewer rescued horses is an increase in the number of horses bound for slaughterhouses, as Contact7 reported in May.

Horses are identified by numbers and sold by the pound at public auction houses, which often forces rescue groups into bidding wars with horse traders who ship horses to other countries for slaughter.

"It's a public auction, feel free to bid, and, the market's the market," horse trader Jason Fabrizius told Contact7.

Horse slaughter is no longer legal in the U.S., but it is legal in Mexico and Canada.

"These horses show up; there's no place for them to go. The rancher's done using them. The backyard person is done petting them. They come to a public auction. I buy them, and I buy them by the truckloads. And we send them to Mexico," Fabrizius said.

That's why horse rescues are so desperate now.

"A lot of people don't donate because they think everybody else is donating," Clinard said.

She said her rescue group used to receive as much as $3,000 per month in donations, but now is averaging closer to $500 to $600 per month.

At the same time, she said she's receiving at least one message every day from other horse owners or horse rescues seeking a new home for horses they can no longer afford.

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