Bell County sees increase in abandoned, neglected horses - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

BELL COUNTY

Bell County sees increase in abandoned, neglected horses

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BELL COUNTY - Bell County has recently seen an increase in abandoned or neglected horses. Officials say the economy has made it difficult for owners to keep horses and there is a low demand in the horse market.

That is why Bell County approved using an online system to auction off livestock.  

Karen Laird lives in Belton and has worked with horses her entire life.

She lists the multiple expenses; "Well, you have the daily feed, and then there's your tag, the saddle if you do any sort of showing or activities like barrel racing or roping, you have your trailer… It can get quite pricey."

"They used to call it the sport of kings," she added.  "It is a very pricey animal to keep."

For one horse she spends about $100 a month on food alone. And lately, she has seen the horse market go down.

"Probably in the last three years I've seen it decrease. Especially when we've had the drought two or three years ago and the hay was really expensive," she said.  "You see a lot of people try to sell off their animals."

Bell County court commissioner Robert Cortiz said exact numbers aren't available, but they have taken in about a dozen horses in the past several months.

"It's like finding dogs or cats being dumped in the road," he said.  "In some cases that's what's happening in the horse industry."

Not all horses are strays, he said.  People also contact the city to tell them of horse owners that simply cannot afford their horses any longer. According the officials, it costs the city about twelve dollars a day to keep a horse.

They rarely have buyers at live auctions and there is no room at surrounding horse rescue shelters. Major horse processing facilities in Texas once created a high demand for horses. Those were shut down a couple of years ago.

They believe the new online auctioning system can help can reach a larger audience. "There is no question it will provide a bigger opportunity for someone to buy them," said Cortiz.

The decrease in the horse market is an issue that has come up statewide at commissioner court meetings. Laird said that whether the auctioning is done on or off the Internet, it all depends on how badly someone wants a horse.

"It's kind of like a dog.  It's everyone's prerogative," she said.  "If you want him, you do the best you can."
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