Horses abandoned at an alarming rate in Whatcom County



Posted on January 8, 2014 at 7:22 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 8 at 7:40 PM

Every single stall in the Whatcom County Humane Society's barn is full. They're filled with horses that have been abused, neglected and forgotten by their owners.

Twenty-year-old Knight was seized from an owner that had stopped caring for, and even feeding him. Knight has gained over 100 pounds in the past three months, but is still so underweight you can see his ribs.

"All these horses have been through a lot and they deserve a second chance," said Whatcom Humane Society Director Laura Clark.

The Humane Society took in 31 horses in 2013 alone. That's as many as the previous two years combined.

"It's the worst I've ever seen it. They're everywhere," said caretaker Jesse Johnson. "I just try to fix them. I don't like to think about the people behind it."

Some of the horses are left at auction, others abandoned in pastures. Some are simply dumped like an old junk car.

"We find strays walking down the road that people don't claim," said Clark. "It's absolutely heartbreaking."

"It's not just like a car that you can throw away. It's a living being," added Johnson.

A combination of high feed prices, overbreeding and a soft horse market are spurring the situation, one that's growing increasingly dire.

"People think that pet overpopulation is just with cats and dogs," said Whatcom County Animal Control Officer Rebecca Crowley, who is currently working a handful of additional horse cases. "But right now it certainly involves horses, too."

In Whatcom County there is simply no more room for abandoned horses. In addition to the Humane Society, all of the other local rescue organizations are full, as well. The Humane Society says it doesn't have the more than $20,000 a year to care for them all. One horse was already in such bad shape he had to be put down. And with the rest of this long cold winter ahead others may follow.

"I hope we've turned a corner and things are going to get better," said Clark. "But I'm not holding out much hope."

If you'd like to donate to the Humane Society or adopt a horse, visit