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AHC and USDA Collaborate on Unwanted Horse Issue Forum

Washington, DC - The American Horse Council and the United States Department of Agriculture are co-sponsoring a forum on The Unwanted Horse Issue: What Now? The all-day forum will be held on Wednesday, June 18th, 2008 at the Department’s Jefferson Auditorium in Washington, DC.

The forum will piggy-back onto the AHC’s 2008 National Issues Forum, which will be from June 16 through the 18th in Washington. “The Unwanted Horse Forum is open to all. We hope that those who attend the AHC meeting will stay in Washington and attend the Unwanted Horse Forum too,” said Jay Hickey, AHC President.

“There is little data about the size of the problem, the numbers of unwanted horses, the ability of the current system to care for them, whether there is an increase in neglect and similar issues,” said Hickey. “We hope that this forum will be an opportunity to focus on the many factors that surround the problem of the unwanted horse and bring some clarity to the extent of the problem.”

Various newspapers and other media have recently reported that state agencies and horse rescue groups are seeing a growing number of horses that can no longer be cared for by owners. Some of the reports suggest that rescue groups are being overwhelmed and may have to start turning horses away. The media reports suggest numerous factors for the increase, including overbreeding; the downturn in the economy; sharply rising costs of hay; the drought that has affected many parts of the U.S.; the costs of euthanasia and carcass disposal; and the closing of the nation’s three slaughter facilities.

“Whatever the causes, and they probably include all of these factors, this is not an optimistic forecast and reinforces the need for the horse industry and others to proactively address the unwanted horse issue,” said Hickey.

The one-day educational forum is free and open to all. It will focus on the current situation and the next steps that might be taken. Invited speakers will discuss the knowns and unknowns of the unwanted horse issue at this time, as well as possible solutions and options to deal with the problem and decrease the number of unwanted horses in the country. The forum will cover a variety of topics including historical, ethical and general perspectives on the unwanted horse issue, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, transportation issues, and potential solutions and options.

For more information on this Unwanted Horse Issues Forum, please visit the AHC website, http://www.horsecouncil.org. To register, send your name, affiliation and email address to Marsha Stephens Hurd, 800 9th St. SW, Room 3150 Waterfront Centre, Washington, DC 20250-2220; telephone: 202.401.5352; fax: 202.401.6156; or email either mhurd@csrees.usda.gov or rreynnells@csrees.usda.gov


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