Economy only part of problem facing horse owners - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Economy only part of problem facing horse owners

by Bryan Goettel

SWISHER (KWWL) - Not surprisingly the far-reaching effects of the struggling economy have hit horse owners. But the economy is only part of a growing problem. And while the details surrounding a dozen horses being seized near Lisbon Thursday remain sketchy, one horse owner believes this is likely just the beginning.

Nestled amongst the trees and rolling hills west of Swisher is Wyndtree Farm. It's where Teresa Mulhausen has run a full-service equine facility for the past 15 years.

"The price of everything has risen dramatically," said Mulhausen.

There are 33 horses boarded on the farm. Mulhausen says she's fortunate to be one of the few owners going strong as the economy suffers.

"I get calls every week, every single week from someone who wants to give me a horse they no longer can afford to keep," said Mulhausen.

The phone just started ringing in the last year. When a dozen horses were seized near Lisbon Thursday, Mulhausen wasn't surprised.

"There's lots of people who have horses in their backyards or on their farms that are not being cared for that no one sees," said Mulhausen.

She says the economy is only part of the problem.

"As a horse person, it's a very unpopular stance to take, but there is a need for slaughter houses," said Mulhausen. 

The last remaining slaughter house in the U.S. was shut down two years ago. While Mulhausen admits the houses needed more regulation, she says it was better than the alternative.

"People are turning horses loose," said Mulhausen. "They're starving to death. They're not being cared for."

National organizations like the Equine Protection Network have long been against slaughter houses, instead favoring euthanasia. But with total costs pushing a thousand dollars, Mulhausen knows many horse owners can't afford it.

"It's sad," said Mulhausen. "It's a very sad, sad situation."

Many horses are still finding their way to slaughter houses, going now to ones in Canada and Mexico.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel 

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