Friday, December 9, 2011

Texas Drought Causing Thousands of Horses and Donkeys to Be Abandoned

Here's a sad story, as reported by Reuters:
The yearlong Texas drought is taking a heartbreaking toll on horses and donkeys, thousands of which have been abandoned by owners who can no longer afford the skyrocketing price of the hay needed to feed them.

“We get 20 to 40 calls a week that horses are alongside the road and left; nobody’s claimed them,” Richard Fincher of Safe Haven Equine Rescue in Gilmer, in east Texas, told Reuters. “Sheriffs are calling us all the time.”

Before this year, he would get more like three or four calls a week, he said.

The problem, according to Dennis Sigler, a horse specialist at Texas A&M University, is that the drought has dried up the hay fields, leaving horse owners having to pay double or triple the prices they are used to paying for hay, if they can find hay at all.

“The price of hay and feed today is at levels we have never experienced before because of the drought,” Sigler said. “In addition to that, pastures are short, and folks who have horses on pasture have no grass for their horses. There is just no market for horses this year.”

In addition, Sigler said, the drought has forced Texas ranchers to sell some of their cattle herds, leaving them with horses that are no longer needed to ride the range.
What makes this particularly galling is that Texas is a (ahem) hotbed of climate change denial. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that anyone should just blindly accept the global warming message of pop culture sources like Al Gore's, An Inconvenient Truth. What I'm saying is that if you live in an area that is particularly vulnerable to a potential change in climate, or in an area where your economic livelihood could potentially be destroyed by increasingly volatile weather events, you at least owe it to yourself to be open-minded on the subject.

The Texas "heat dome" this past summer was a phenomenal weather event in terms of the number of temperature records set and the utter lack of rainfall. If summers like this one become the "new normal" in the near future then the state of Texas will not be able to support its large population for very long. As it stands, it's having a hard time just maintaining its population of horses and donkeys.

Bonus: An outstanding James McMurtry music video tribute to his home state of Texas


  1. The Texas drought is a great example of how closely integrated the global ecomomy has become. My friend who is a cattle farmer tells me Irish cattle prices are at an all time high and he expects them to stay there or rise more due to the cull of cattle in the southern US because of the drought.

  2. @babystrangeloop - The Onion hits another home run! :)

  3. I don't know, I've come to think the American right is utterly and completely hopeless of being able to learn anything. Now, I don't mean slightly right leaning moderates, or fiscal types who just want a balanced budget and for some stupid reason think Republicans represent this, and I don't even mean libertarians in many cases despite their being absolutist - because I think those categories are sometimes capable of learning. I mean the part of the right that thinks OWS is all about wanting handouts (no .... not exactly), that must deny global warming at all costs, that thinks most of the Republican presidential candidates are anything but a complete joke.