What’s the Real Cost of Humanely Euthanizing and Disposing of a Horse?

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The Homes for Horses Coalition set out to answer questions about the cost of humanely euthanizing and disposing of horses by surveying horse rescues, veterinarians, veterinary schools and disposal services across the country. The results of the 2014 survey confirm that doing the right thing at the end of a horse’s life is not very expensive.

Out of 94 organizations surveyed across the U.S.A., 87% reported the cost of euthanasia to be less than $300. Out of 104 organizations offering disposal services, 75% reported the cost of disposal to be less than $300. While cremation can be expensive, the cost of having the horse’s carcass transferred to a landfill can be as low as $50. These costs are a virtual drop in the bucket when it comes to the overall expense of keeping a horse, and are simply a part of responsible horse ownership.

Some opponents of legislation to end horse slaughter like to argue the high cost of euthanasia and disposal; however, this survey shows that humane euthanasia and carcass disposal is highly affordable and widely available. Those in favor of horse slaughter like to equate it with humane euthanasia. Nothing could be further from the truth. Horse slaughter is a horrific process that involves immense cruelty and animal suffering both during transport and during slaughter. It is not humane euthanasia.

Veterinarian-administered euthanasia via chemical injection, on the other hand, brings a peaceful end to life. Normally, a veterinarian can come to the horse’s home so that the animal can be in familiar surroundings with loving caretakers there or nearby. Some vets will pre-sedate the horse before administering a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital, which brings a quick, painless death. After death, the horse’s carcass can be buried or composted (ordinances permitting), transferred to a landfill, rendered or cremated.

“Horse slaughter has no place in a society that cares for its horses, and there are numerous alternatives to slaughter, many of which cost less than one month’s board,” said Cindy Gendron, Homes for Horses Coalition Coordinator. Responsible ownership and breeding, coupled with veterinarian-administered humane euthanasia when necessary, are the answer--not slaughter.

The Homes for Horses Coalition is supported by the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), the Animal Welfare Institute and The Humane Society of the United States’ Jeannie Dodson Equine Protection Fund. It is dedicated to ending horse slaughter and other forms of equine abuse, while promoting growth, collaboration and professionalism in the equine rescue and protection community. Find us online at www.homesforhorses.org and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/HomesforHorses
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