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Trying to Euthanize Two Elderly Horses - Looking for Creative Solution

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  • Trying to Euthanize Two Elderly Horses - Looking for Creative Solution

    I'm posting under an alter because I fear the following might bring out the COTH pack pile-on. In reading, please keep in mind that this is my elderly father and I'm trying to figure out how to do right by these horses.

    My father called me today in a panic because his hay supplier sold out of the last of their hay and he needs to find another supplier. With how things are this season, I told him in the fall that he needed to stock up because come February/March, there was going to be nothing left and hate to say I told you so but, here we are.

    My father has been trying to find someone to take his horses for two years now because he does not want the responsibility of them and claims that he physically cannot do the work anymore. Problem is, they're 28 and 32. There really isn't a reasonable expectation to find them someplace else to go. He yelled at me today when he called saying "I shouldn't have this problem. I've asked you to help me find them a new home and you haven't." I wish I were a miracle worker, but I'm not. I can’t bring him something that isn't there to be had – extra soft second cutting for $5 a bale or a new home.

    I've been fighting with him for the last two years to put the horses down and he won't. He says he cannot put down a good animal. After today's frustrating phone call, he said he's just going to let the horses loose and have them fend for themselves. I explained to him that's not an option because he will go to jail for animal abandonment/cruelty and have to bear the responsibility if they wander to the road and hurt or kill someone who might hit them with their car.

    Personally, I'm very angry because I do feel that he needs to suck it up, take the ultimate responsibility for the horses and put them down at home. But that doesn't seem to be an option. So, I'm trying to find a solution to the problem that will do the right thing for the horses in the end.

    In an ideal world, I would love to give them a week or so of really exceptional care and love and then have them put down but with the hay situation, board openings are very few and are few and far between and most that I've called don't want to open up to a short term boarder because I'm being honest about my intention of putting them down. At this point, if I could find a farm that I could haul the horses to, tell my father I "found them a new home", and have a the vet and renderer meet me out there to put them down, that would be incredible. Unfortunately, I've struck out on this front with the contacts I have.

    Short of letting the horses starve and calling the SPCA, does anyone have any creative ideas of how to allow these horses the dignity of a good end without suffering from my father's shortcomings? I'm beside myself in grief, shame and anger at this whole mess. I shouldn't have to be the one to have to do this, but here I am. I need help and some idea of how to make this right.

  • #2
    I'd say your best option is just to haul them straight to the vet. But only after your dad has signed them over. Then when you euth them, they're yours to do what you want with.


    • #3
      Give us an idea where you are. I was there with my parents too. First I took the guns (he almost shot my mother in the middle of the night thinking she was an intruder), then the car, then the dog. I had to find a rescue to take the dog and found one by making a large donation. Horses are much more difficult as we all know.


      • #4
        Can you find a well respected rescue that will take them and put them down? You should, of course, make a good sized donation to cover their costs. Around here, it is about $1000 to have a horse euthanized and the body disposed of. Your vet school may do it for less if they need the horse bodies for student dissections.

        I hope your father in law has found a temporary source of good hay while he figures out his options.


        • #5
          Agree with Laura, if you can at least give us a State, someone might be able to step up and help with this. I understand why you wouldn't want to give a pin pointed location.

          No pile on from me. It's a tough situation and it sounds like you are doing what you can. I'm sorry you are having to deal with this, but kudos for doing so.
          "Aye God, Woodrow..."


          • #6
            What a mess. I wish there was something I could do to help.

            You will need to let people know where you are located and perhaps a COTHer near you may have an idea of what you should do.


            • #7
              Is euthanasia the only option? I know you mentioned he can't find hay as his local supplier sold out. Would a hay alternative be an option? Or is he just done with them all together?


              • #8
                Originally posted by Kwalker024 View Post
                Is euthanasia the only option? I know you mentioned he can't find hay as his local supplier sold out. Would a hay alternative be an option? Or is he just done with them all together?
                Really sounds like he wants them gone, but is unwilling to step up and take the responsibility.

                OP, could you get him to turn ownership over to you, and you'd get them euthed at the vet's (without necessarily telling him that's your immediate plan)? Or would that cause too much of a blow-up in your family, and thus subterfuge is needed?
                Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia


                • #9
                  If you sign them over with a goodly sized donation to a rescue then you aren't practicing a subterfuge. The rescue might or might not choose to euth them and you'll have fulfilled the option of getting them a good home.

                  I know of people who have had to take their horses to Rood and Riddle and for whatever reason they had to be euthe'd there. They have the contacts to have the carcass removed - is it possible the vet you would use would be able to euth and have the renderer pick up from their vet hospital?

                  It's really tough with elderly parents. We had to euth my MIL's cat for her, and wait a few weeks to tell her because she didn't want to have the cat euthe'd, so we took it home when she moved to an apartment with no space and gave the cat a few weeks of scratches and then did it. "It passed away". She knew, she just didn't want to be the one that did it. We'd seen how bad she let the dog get, dotting around on three legs and incontinent all over the house - no way was that happening with the cat.

                  Good luck with whatever you work out.
                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                  Incredible Invisible


                  • #10
                    OP, I am just so sorry you have to be in this tough situation. I am wondering if he just needs for somebody else to just take charge and handle the whole thing as he seems unable to even talk about it or solutions. Basically wash his hands of it.
                    Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley


                    • Original Poster

                      The horses are in upstate NY. He would gladly let me take them with the promise that they're "going to a good home." He knows I can't take them because I board my one horse and cannot afford board on 3. He wants to be blissfully unaware of what the outcome of the horses' future is. He did say that if the new owners put them down, well that's their doing but he wants to live the rest of his life feeling as if he didn't have a hand in that.

                      Rescues around here are out of the question. Two recently closed and I called the last one around and they said that they don't own their own facilities and don't believe in euthanizing horses just because they're old. They can't take them and they said they couldn't help me. I called a few vets, but they only make house calls. The nearest clinic is over 3 hours away.

                      My father will not pay $9-10 a bale for first cutting hay (which is what stuff is going for - Second cutting is closer to $15-17.50) nor would he do the $15-19 a bag for hay replacement. I wouldn't trust him to feed hay cubes properly as the eldest horse wouldn't be able to chew them without them being soaked and that would be too much trouble for my father. As it is, they're only getting fed and watered once a day - which is a huge source of annoyance for me. It would be an understatement to say that our husbandry styles are vastly different.


                      • #12
                        Can you take them to a "good home" at the vet and have them put down?

                        Is transportation to the vet, the problem? Perhaps someone here who is in your area will help out if that is the case. I'm so sorry you are having to cope with this. Very upsetting ..


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by skydy View Post
                          Can you take them to a "good home" at the vet and have them put down?
                          I called a few local vets (we don't have many), including my own regular veterinarian, but they only make house calls. The nearest clinic is over 3 hours away.

                          I talked to a friend who mentioned donating their carcass to the zoo. There is a local big cat sanctuary that I have called about making a donation. I'm waiting for a call back from them. I could ask my brother, who is an experienced hunter, to go with me to haul the horses there alive and we may be able to do gunshot euthanasia on site and have the carcasses fed to the large cats. I don't know what my brother's response will be as we grew up with these guys. They've been a part of our family for a long time but I can't stand to see them be allowed to starve because of my father's stubbornness.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by HalteredFaultered View Post
                            He would gladly let me take them with the promise that they're "going to a good home."
                            So find them a good home, across the rainbow bridge. You aren't lying, he feels better, all is good.

                            As others suggested, take them to the vet.


                            • #15
                              Saw you don't have a haul-in clinic.
                              Can you check with a local facility or friend about "utilizing" their place, having the renderer lined up so they don't have to deal with a drawn out process?


                              • #16
                                I take it paying for someone to care for the horses is out of the question? I only ask because there's been no mention of $$$ being very tight, just that he is unable to care for them and also doesn't want to put them down.

                                I realize that is very obvious, but again, I don't want to assume. Because the horses' set up seems ideal right now, just that your father can't do the care any more.

                                Is hay *that much*? I'm in upstate NY, the most expensive part of upstate NY (100 miles north of NYC), and first cutting hay is going for $4 and $5/bale around me.

                                Not saying euthanasia is the worst thing in the world either btw.
                                Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peonyvodka/


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by MoonoverMississippi View Post
                                  So find them a good home, across the rainbow bridge. You aren't lying, he feels better, all is good.

                                  As others suggested, take them to the vet.
                                  It does sound like he's almost giving you permission to do this and he just doesn't want to know about it. I am usually totally against lying about something like this, but I also think he kind of knows where the bear crapped in the buckwheat on this one.

                                  Again, hoping a cother in upstate new york can step forward and either help you place them, or give you a place to let them be humanely let go.

                                  Tough spot for you, OP, and I'm sorry.
                                  "Aye God, Woodrow..."


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by HalteredFaultered View Post
                                    I called a few local vets (we don't have many), including my own regular veterinarian, but they only make house calls. The nearest clinic is over 3 hours away.
                                    What about this, do you have a friend near you but far enough away from your father where you could have a farm call to have them euthanized and picked up??

                                    You are doing right by these horses and while I hate to see it, I can understand how difficult this is for your father. He is afraid of death for them and can't handle the thought of being responsible for it.


                                    • #19
                                      I'm on Long Island but have a hay guy in PA that comes with a tractor trailer of about 10-12 tons of beautiful 2nd cut hay for $7.40 a square bale. Want his number?

                                      Kiwayu & Figiso Pictures:


                                      • #20
                                        I believe the OP's father does not want to buy hay and does not want to take care of the horses any longer..