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Help for horses offered at North County shelter

CARLSBAD — Not many people know that the county animal shelter in Carlsbad offers onsite corrals for horses requiring immediate and specialized attention.
Four horses have occupied these stalls since July.
Lauren Joniaux, deputy director with the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, said the majority of the horses obtained are through cases of criminal abuse or neglect.
The department’s jurisdiction includes the unincorporated areas of San Diego County, the city of San Diego, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Santee.
Horses have also experienced the brunt of the economic downturn. While feed prices have skyrocketed, pet owners are facing a difficult time paying for food and veterinary care.
“In our day-to-day investigations, we are finding a lot more problems out there and more struggles with people being able to provide for their animals,” Joniaux said. While the department deals primarily with equine cruelty cases, the subject of starvation also falls into its own category.
Joniaux said she encourages people to call animal services if they are concerned about the well-being of an animal. Sometimes, people may notice something wrong when they drive by a property with a horse living there. “We would rather have someone report something that they are uncomfortable about than not to report it all,” she said. “We will go out and make sure everything is fine; sometimes, it’s just a matter of talking to a person and giving them some guidance.”
The animal shelter also works with a few horse rescue agencies in San Diego County. “They are awesome,” Joniaux said. “They really help us when we have special care cases.”
One such agency is Horses of Tir Na Nog in San Diego County. “We are a horse sanctuary and tend to take in horses from animal services which have been neglected and/or abused and deemed unadoptable,” said Amy Pat Rigney, director.
In San Diego County there are a combination of sanctuaries and horse rescue organizations that offer horse adoptions and sponsorships.
Rigney said if someone owns a horse and is experiencing financial challenges, it’s best to start the process of re-homing the animal as soon as possible to avoid a crisis situation. Networking with a boarding facility and researching rescue organizations is crucial.
Another option is a partial lease with another person. Costs can be split and both people can care for the horse and enjoy the recreational pleasure that it brings. “This is an ideal solution because there are not that many people looking to adopt horses right now,” Rigney said.
Horses of Tir Na Nog joined other nonprofit horse rescues and sanctuaries such as Blue Apple Ranch, Falcon Ridge Equine Rescue and Tijuana River Valley Animal Rescue to form The San Diego Equine Coalition. “We try to keep horses in their homes,” Rigney said.
Established in 2010, the coalition can temporarily assist a horse owner with feed and veterinary services. Rigney said it was initiated by a grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA.
Joniaux said if someone is considering investing in a horse, they should adopt one from a rescue organization. She added that above all, a person should bear in mind the financial costs during these economic times.
“People really need to think about if they can provide ongoing medical care and food for these beautiful large animals,” she said.
To learn more about The San Diego Equine Coalition, visit sandiegohorse.org or call (619) 230-8612. To reach the County of San Diego Animal Services shelter in Carlsbad regarding animal welfare concerns, adoptions, vet clinics, volunteer opportunities or more, call (760) 438-2312.