Group try­ing to find homes for wild horses

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION -

Vol­un­teers are scram­bling to find homes for hun­dreds of wild horses in South Dakota that were spared a pos­si­ble trip to the slaugh­ter­house but are now suf­fer­ing through a harsh win­ter.

The horses, some of them blind, were once kept at a trou­bled South Dakota sanc­tu­ary. Now a small group of vol­un­teers from across the coun­try is work­ing 10 hours a day to feed and care for the an­i­mals, us­ing rented plows to carve paths through 15-foot snow­drifts. In a nearby ho­tel room, other vol­un­teers are sort­ing through adop­tion ap­pli­ca­tions and net­work­ing through so­cial me­dia, des­per­ately try­ing to find homes for the horses be­fore they are forced to leave the prop­erty next month.

About 500 horses have al­ready been placed in sanc­tu­ar­ies and ranches across the coun­try, from Ari­zona and Ore­gon to Cal­i­for­nia and Min­nesota.

The re­main­ing 300 wild horses could be more dif­fi­cult to sell or have adopted, said Elaine Nash, the di­rec­tor of horse res­cue or­ga­ni­za­tion Fleet of An­gels who is head­ing the op­er­a­tion. Nearly 200 are stal­lions that need geld­ing be­fore any­one will want them. Dozens are old and have health prob­lems. Oth­ers are blind from what Nash sus­pects was toxic farm runoff in their drink­ing pond.

More than 800 horses were im­pounded in Oc­to­ber at the non­profit In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety for the Pro­tec­tion of Mus­tangs and Bur­ros af­ter a state vet­eri­nar­ian found they were be­ing ne­glected and a for­mer ranch em­ployee said they were be­ing starved to death. All but 20 were even­tu­ally sur­ren­dered by their owner.

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