NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Local animal shelters have been overwhelmed and overcrowded throughout the pandemic and it’s not just dogs and cats. Horse rescues are at capacity as well and now they’re facing a new struggle.
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“All rescues are very close to full capacity, if not at capacity or over and I think everybody’s in the same boat,” said Susan Hemmerle, the director of the Horse Shelter.
The Horse Shelter is located just east of Cerrillos. The 128-acre rescue is one of the largest in the state and has been around for more than 20 years. However, Hemmerle said the past year and a half during the pandemic has been the hardest time they’ve ever had to deal with.
“The restrictions have really hurt us, we lost well over $100,000, plus to closer to $150,000 on event income we had to cancel all of our events,” said Hemmerle.
Hemmerle said the pandemic also forced them to shut down their adoption program from March 2020 until January of this year. Which has now left them with 78 horses, two shy from their maximum capacity. She also said during the pandemic horse owners have also had a tough time caring for the animals they already have and have even let their horses out in the wild. Which ultimately means the Horse Shelter has to step in and save them.
“They underestimate the amount of money it costs to really take good care of a horse, they just go in over their head,” said Hemmerle.
On top of the capacity concerns, she said the cost of hay has also gone up 21 percent. “So with an annual feed cost of over $100,000 we feed $120,000 of hay a year,” said Hemmerle.
Despite these obstacles, Hemmerle and her staff remain passionate and do whatever they can to ensure these animals are safe. “To me, they’re the innocent, so it means these are the ones we need to protect,” said Hemmerle.
The Horse Shelter is hosting a virtual fundraising auction this weekend.