Horses that used to cost thousands of dollars to buy are now lucky to fetch even $100 at auction for their owners.
As money gets tighter for everyone, and the price of a bale of hay is on the rise, horse owners are abandoning their animals.
In Southern California, people who once owned horses as pets are now abandoning them due to lack of land, lack of funds or there's just no one to buy them.
"Up until two or three years ago, we'd find maybe two abandoned horses a year. It's a horse a week now."
Even people who are ranchers or trainers are finding it harder to hold onto their horses.
A rancher said:
"There's no buyers anywhere. There's a guy down the road from me who has 18 head of horses, beautiful broodmares. He says if hay goes above $18 a bale… he's going to have to literally turn his horses out into the desert. And he's a man of his word."
So now that horse slaughter will be legal in the US again, it's possible this could help the problem.
Now it's for owners to decide what's worse: abandon a domesticated horse to fend for itself in the unforgiving wild or sell it to slaughter to end its suffering and maybe make a few bucks?
Many horse lovers, even though they truly care for their horses, realize that years ago when the government shut down horse slaughter operations, it was bad for horses in general.
"When they quit that, it hurt the whole horse industry, because you have a lot of bad horses and you can't do nothing with them. If they can't ride 'em and they can't feed 'em, they'll cut them loose."
So sad, but the economy that affects us affects our pets as well.
[Image via Kelvin D. Chen/WENN.]