CZAAWE Resource Article

Unwanted Horse Population in Illinois: Perceptions of Horse Owners, Non-Horse Owners, and Equine Industry Stakeholders
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
This paper presents the results of an investigation to determine perceptions, awareness, and knowledge of the unwanted horse population in Illinois from the viewpoint of horse owners, non-horse owners, and equine industry stakeholders. A questionnaire included items that pertained to knowledge of current legislation, equine background, current methods of controlling the unwanted horse population, and methods that respondents believe would reduce the unwanted horse population in Illinois. Results indicated that 58% of horse owners viewed horses as companion animals. Respondents perceived financial hardship to be the major reason why horses become unwanted. Current methods of managing unwanted horse populations were found to be ineffective. Reducing the costs of euthanasia and carcass disposal, allowing processing facilities to reopen in Illinois, and increasing the availability of gelding programs emerged as the most effective ways to manage the unwanted horse population. Results of this survey may lead to greater awareness of the unwanted horse population in Illinois. Furthermore, these results may lead to discussions about future legislation in the State designed to support and manage unwanted horses.