An equine welfare crisis has been underway now for several weeks in Nevada, as the BLM has sanctioned a massive helicopter round-up of wild horses in an attempt to curb their overpopulation on Nevada cattle grazing lands. Equine welfare groups have been up in arms against the roundup since it began, because the helicopter method of roundup is highly traumatic and even dangerous to the horses. So far it has resulted in 27 equine deaths, and approximately 30 late term foal abortions in mares that were rounded up and captured. Tuesday's Horse, however, reported today on one of the most abysmal results of the round up that I have yet seen, the euthanasia of a foal whose hooves were actually sloughed off due to its being galloped down steep and rocky terrain en route to the Calico round up center where the horses are now being kept. A link to the article is here, but please be forewarned, it is a grim image, and an even sadder story. It's just the kind of thing that breaks ones heart, be they a horse lover or no. To join the petition to end the round-up, click the link here.
On a positive note, there has been an important step taken for the equine welfare cause this week as a group of prominent equine veterinarians have come together to form an Equine Health and Welfare Alliance, to "identify issues adversely effecting the humane treatment of horses and identify solutions through legislative or regulatory action; promote research to improve equine health; improve the quality and oversight of horse rescue operations; and build a nationwide grassroots network to advocate on behalf all equine breeds." As Doug Byers, DVM, one of the group's participating veterinarians explained, "'The horse is a deaf mute. It can’t speak for itself. So our focus will be solely on issues and mechanisms that protect, promote and preserve adequate humane measures of basic needs for the horse.'" In the wake of the many stories of abusive practices within and outside of various equine industries, and stories like the one coming out of the BLM above, I am relieved to see that there are still many people devoting their time to advocating for America's horses.