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The “Unwanted” Horse in the U.S.

The issue of the large number of unwanted horses in the U.S. first came to light following the 2001 Foot and Mouth disease epidemic in Europe. The European consumer’s concern with eating beef resulted in an increase in their consumption of horsemeat. This change drew media attention to the fact horses were being processed for meat in the United States and exported to Europe for human consumption.

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Equine Welfare

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), animal welfare is a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, humane handling and, when necessary, humane euthanasia.

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The Plight of the Unwanted Horse: Scope of the Problem

The current plight of the unwanted horse in the United States has been directly impacted by various recent state legislative actions. The legislation was most likely intended to be in the horse’s best interests, but it has brought about unintended consequences that now appear to be having a negative impact on the welfare of these horses. This would not be the first time that mandated legislation has had good intentions, but ultimately resulted in some unexpected consequences that adversely affected the welfare of horses.

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