Why Won’t HSUS Build More Horse Rescues?

ThinHorse“Almost every horse rescue in the country is running out of room or money as they continue to be strained by an influx of abandoned equines,” declared the Associated Press recently. There’s a major horse crisis in the U.S. as horse owners can’t afford to keep their animals, and have few options at their hands. Unfortunately, the Humane Society of the United States doesn’t seem to be doing much to help.

Despite claiming to be America’s “most effective” animal protection group, HSUS is in fact financially wasteful, an attitude that in light of the recent news has a real cost to the animals HSUS claims to advocate for. According to the independent evaluator CharityWatch, HSUS spends close to half of its budget on overhead. HSUS also recently sent about $26 million to the Caribbean, keeping money offshore that could be used to help horses and other animals today.

Now, HSUS does run a horse rescue in Oregon that holds a few hundred animals. But the problem is much bigger. Researchers at the University of California-Davis estimate that the total capacity of horse rescues in the country is 13,400 animals. There are currently 100,000 unwanted horses every year in the U.S., with most being shipped to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for food.

HSUS certainly could do more to solve this problem—either by building new rescues or funding current ones, or put money into a euthanasia and disposal fund (HSUS’s CEO has supported shooting unwanted horses) or a hay bank.

Would it be inexpensive? No. But HSUS has $200 million in assets. It could divert some money away from sending out t-shirts and socks in direct mail campaigns and actually be productive. But that might be asking for too much. HSUS likes to complain about problems while passing the hat, but actually doing something requires actual leadership.

Instead, HSUS has been spending money lobbying against using horses for food. Whether or not that’s a worthy goal, there’s a practical question: What’s going to happen to those 100,000-plus animals a year currently sent to slaughter? Where are they going to go?

They can’t go to rescues—those are already full, and the amount of animals is several times the capacity of rescues. The unwanted horses may just be abandoned, as some of the already are. The problem will just get worse.

HSUS does have plenty of cash to spare—its lobbying arm has just spent $375,000 on a political campaign in Missouri, opposing a ballot measure from farmers and ranchers to protect how they produce food. It just apparently doesn’t have much for horses.