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A provision of the appropriations and expenditures bill passed by the Legislature during its April special session and signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham includes $350,000 for the state’s Horse Shelter Rescue Fund (HSRF).
The fund, created in 2013, is administered by the New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB) as part of its “regulatory authority governing abuse and neglect of livestock,” the board’s website.
The appropriation “will benefit homeless and abused horses, donkeys and mules in the custody of equine shelters registered and regulated by the board,” according to a news release from Animal Protection New Mexico (APNM) and Animal Protection Voters (APV).
State Sen. Carrie Hamblen, D-Doña Ana, was among six New Mexico legislators acknowledged by APNM/APV for their support of the appropriation.
Among the state’s 10 licensed horse shelters are Dharmahorse Equine Sanctuary (https://dharmahorse.org/) in Las Cruces and Perfect Harmony Animal Rescue & Sanctuary in Chapparal
(www.facebook.com/PerfectHarmonyAnimalRescue). There are also licensed shelters in Aztec, Cerrillos, Edgewood, Ranchos de Taos, Silver City, Santa Fe, Blanco and Tijeras, New Mexico.
Licensed horse rescue facilities “play a vital role in the rehabilitation of equine seized in cruelty cases that are being investigated and sometimes prosecuted by the NMLB,” said NMLB Director Belinda Garland. “They work with NMLB on estray cases and horse owners who are no longer able to care for their animals and help find suitable new homes. We at the NMLB have had many years of positive experience of working hand in hand with the licensed rescues and look forward to the continued efforts of protecting and serving the livestock industry.”
“These shelters provide life-saving services that benefit the state and local communities, but they operate almost solely on donations and volunteer help, receiving no regular government funding (in stark contrast to most dog/cat shelters, which provide similar services that are paid for by government budgets),” according to the APNM/APV news release.
The release said horse shelters also face challenges caused by persistent drought, expensive feed and the Covid-19 pandemic.
HSRF received one-time appropriations of $250,000 in 2014 and $150,000 in 2021, the news release said. The $350,000 appropriated this year is recurring funding for the fund.
In 2021, there were 281 homeless horses, donkeys and mules in NMLB-registered horse shelters, APNM/APV said. That same year, APNM’s Equine Protection Fund provided approximately $162,800 in equine feed assistance to New Mexico families. Even with that funding, APNM/APV said all state horse shelters are operating at full capacity. On average, it costs at least $1,800 to feed one horse per year in New Mexico, the release said.
HSRF “has always struggled to find reliable funds to help our state’s homeless horses,” said APV/APNM Chief Government Affairs Officer Jessica Johnson. “In spite of this, New Mexico’s horse shelters have worked miracles. But now this recurring funding will give them some relief and capacity to steady, strengthen and potentially expand their work — and these majestic animals deserve it.”
APV was founded in 2022 and is “the leading legislative and political advocacy organization for animal protection in New Mexico,” according to www.apvnm.org. Follow Animal Protection Voters on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
To donate to horse rescue efforts in New Mexico, visit www.nmlbonline.com/rescue. Also visit www.apnm.org and follow APNM on Facebook @animalprotectionnm, Instagram @animalprotectionnewmexico, Twitter @apnm and YouTube @apnm.