Because of laws preventing the export of horse meat overseas and laws restricting glue factories from transporting horses, owners who can no longer afford to care for their horses are left with little options, Pike County officials reported. More and more horses in Pike County are being left by their owners on property owned by coal companies.
“We are having a large amount of horses that are not being fed by their owners, and the owners are dropping the horses off on local strip jobs and leaving them to starve to death. Not only is this action illegal and unconscionable, it also causes problems for the coal companies who are trying to reclaim their abandoned mine land. The horses are tearing up the companies’ land reclamation projects,” said Pike County Animal Shelter Director Rose Deskins.
“Last year alone, we had about 40 horses turned loose on mining property. As the cost of hay continues to rise, and is currently at around $9 to $10 a bail, the problem is getting worse. I have asked Rose (Deskins) to attend the Equine Abuse Investigation Training in Murray, Kentucky, to learn ways to deal with this abuse,” said Pike County Judge/Executive Wayne T. Rutherford.
The training, which takes place in March, is sponsored by the Kentucky Horse Council. It is open to animal control officers, sheriffs, and other Kentucky law enforcement officials and prosecutors, and teaches them about the horse abuse investigation process, veterinary care, and re-feeding starving horses.
Currently, according to Deskins, when the animal shelter investigates complaints of malnourished or neglected horses, county employees most often remove the horses from the area and take them to foster care providers until the ownership of the horses is decided by a court. However, there are not enough foster care providers in the county to deal with the number of horses that are being displaced.