Out in the High Desert at his stable in East Lancaster, Bob Holloway says business is way down what with the cost of feed and care of horses and the economy going so bad a lot of people are losing their homes or being forced to move away in search of work.
And that means horses are going cheap, in some cases for a free. One man heading out of town tried to get $500 each for his two horses, then he cut the price to $500 for both when there were no takers.
"He finally had to leave town and gave me the horses so I ran an ad and I got about 300 callers who wanted them, mostly for their kids," said Holloway who owns the MAD Paint Horse Ranch. "For free, you can find a home for them."
As the economy gets worse and fears rise, thousands of people are finding the cost of pet care is getting too expensive or they are facing foreclosure and have no place to keep their dog or cat or in some cases horses.
Ed Boks, general manager of the L.A. Animal Services Department, reports the number of pets relinquished in September jumped from 4,367 in September 2007 to 5,414 this September, a 25 percent surge.
Local news from across Southern California
"People are reluctant to say they're giving up their pet because they lost their job or their house but the numbers are telling and not sup rising," Boks said. "It happens whenever the economy gets bad."
Pet adoptions are up too, by about 15 percent over the past 12 months to 25,450, thanks to Animal Services new shelters and the support of some 140 non-profit groups -- keeping "L.A. as the No. 1 pet adoption agency in the nation, if not the world," he said.
Anecdotal evidence of the increase in pets being relinquished are occurring all over the country and the website consumeraffairs.com rounded up many of those reports this week.
It reported that in central Oregon, for instance, where there are man small ranches, and horses are being abandoned because of the high cost of hay and veterinary care.
"Often times they do not consider the long term costs, and during difficult financial time, horses are found abandoned on public lands. This can also happen to long time ranch folks," said Lynne Ouchida, community outreach coordinator for the Humane Society of Central Oregon.
Some ranchers have even tried--unsuccessfully--to euthanize their horses because they can't afford to hire a veterinarian, Ouchida says.
In Lancaster, Holloway said the basic care and feeding of a horse kept in open pasture starts at $120 a month and reach $300 a month for a stall. Veterinary care can increase the cost dramatically.
"We're all having a tough time up here financially,'' he said.