The Oregon Hay Bank continues to save the lives of starving equines across the state. But more donations of cash, hay and labor are desperately needed to save more animals, officials say.
In difficult economic times, horses, ponies, donkeys and mules often are abandoned and neglected as their owners struggle to keep food on the table or a roof over their heads.
The hay bank was formed in January 2009 and operates in conjunction with the Oregon Horse Welfare Council. Delivery amounts can range from a ton or more to help out overburdened equine shelters to a few bales to help an individual in need, said Julie Fritz, chairwoman of the hay bank committee.
Across state lines, horse lovers, farmers and ranchers are helping fill Oregon's hay bank with donations of grass hay —and even offering fields to grow it in, Davis said.
In Northern California, some 400 acres of land that have been sitting fallow are now being prepared for cultivation. New pumps for the irrigation system are being installed and the owner has agreed to grow hay for horse rescue, Davis said.
Horse owners who have no current need for the hay bank can help solve the problem of starving horses with a relatively small regular donation, Fritz said.
"If every horse owner within the state would donate the cost of one bale per ton they purchase, we would have no need for the hay bank," she said.
Individuals who would like to receive the free food must send in an application to the hay bank, and meet specific criteria, including having a plan for sustainability.
"We support conscientious, responsible breeding," said Fritz. "If you can't feed it, don't breed it."