With livestock ownership comes
responsibility. You will be faced with making
life-and-death decisions about your animal. It is a fact of life.
Responsible horse owners who wish to
divest themselves of a healthy, but otherwise unwanted animal have several options:
*Sell the horse
*Gift the horse to a private party
*Give the horse to a therapeutic riding school (not all horses qualify
for use as therapeutic mounts. They must be broke to ride and pass a
rigorous screening process.
See an example of qualifications.)
*Place the horse in a rescue facility/sanctuary
*Donate the horse to a teaching facility
Having exhausted these alternatives, an
owner may elect to euthanize the animal.
An owner may also opt for euthanasia to
relieve the anguish of an aged or infirmed animal--when it is determined
they are experiencing more pain than pleasure. It is appropriate for
horses suffering from a chronic medical condition, non-life threatening
disability, critical injury, disease, and for those horses that are unable to
rise and stand. It may also be a consideration if the financial or
emotional cost of treatment is beyond your means, or if the
owner's own health is an issue.
Other candidates for
euthanasia are horses that are unmanageable, a hazard to themselves, other horses, and/or
In most states, a horse owner can shoot
his or her own horse or have someone else kill it.
veterinarian to chemically euthanize a horse
by intravenous injection is $66,
not include carcass disposal.
disposal varies from state to state, as do the available options: rendering, burial,
composting, incineration. Fees(4) for these methods range from $75 to
$250 for rendering (not available in all states), up to $2,000 for incineration. As an example,
Marylandís State Diagnostic Labs will cremate an in-state horse for
$0.50/lb. or about $550 for an average 1,100 lb. horse.
Most states require a carcass be buried
within 24 hours of death, sooner if the animal died from an infectious
disease. Burial is regulated to prevent ground
water contamination. It is generally recommended to bury the animal more
than 100 ft. from property lines, more than 300 ft. from water sources,
with at least 3 ft. of topsoil over the top of the carcass. Additional
local restrictions may apply.
Horses usually require a trench 7 ft.
wide and 9 ft. deep. Heavy equipment such as a backhoe and tractor are
necessary to excavate and fill the trench and move the carcass. If it is
winter and the ground is frozen, digging a trench may be more difficult,
more time consuming, and more expensive.
Most landfills do not permit disposal of dead animals.
pet cemeteries take
horses, but they advise you contact them in advance to make
Depending on the state, it is most
illegal to leave an animal in the pasture to decay. Likewise, dragging a
dead animal into the brush to be scavenged may be against the law.
Violating such a statute could result in a fine and/or jail time.
eagles, coyotes, dogs, and other species have been poisoned by scavenging the carcasses
of chemically-euthanized animals. It is illegal to
knowingly leave such a carcass exposed. You must bury it.
Zoos and wildlife sanctuaries may take
carcasses of non-chemically euthanized animals .