Denver shelter has more horses than dogs in need of forever families

FRANKTOWN, Colo. -- There are thousands of dogs and cats in Denver in need of forever homes. But did you know there are dozens of horses up for adoption too?

The Dumb Friends League’s Harmony Equine Center in Franktown is a 168-acre facility of rolling hills and pastures. It’s a beautiful property with a beautiful purpose.

“Horses are no different than dogs or cats. They need somebody to support them and they need somebody to care for them when they’re in a bad situation,” said Garret Leonard, director of the Harmony Equine Center.

The center currently has 105 horses and donkeys. About 80 of them are ready to be adopted.

They have all been saved from or surrendered by owners who couldn’t take care of them.

“Those are the ones that come in in really bad body condition. They’re in really bad shape when we get them,” Leonard said.

Horses cost about $3,000 per year to keep, not including stable fees. Some owners simply can’t afford them or underestimate the responsibility.

“A horse needs to eat between one and two percent of its body weight every single day and so if somebody doesn’t know that, they throw a little bit of grass and they think that’s enough,” Leonard said.

Horse neglect happens more often than people might think.

“We’re adopting about one a day right now,” he said. “We wouldn’t exist if animal cruelty didn’t exist in the state of Colorado.”

Last year, more than 300 horses were taken in at the Harmony Equine Center. Of that, 284 were able to be saved. New, qualified owners adopted 77 of them. The rest were transferred to placement partners or impounding agencies.

“25 years ago people didn’t go to shelters to go get dogs and cats. It took that much time to really develop that there’s that many good animals at shelters and at rescues. With equines it’s very much the same way. People don’t look to adoption organizations to get their horses,” Leonard said.

They are trying hard in Franktown to break that habit. All horses that come in and are adoptable will be rehabilitated and trained before going up for adoption.

Horses from cruelty cases spend an average of 164 days at the facility. Surrenders and horses being re-homed spend an average of 90 days at the facility.

“Well, we know we can’t save them all but it sure matters to the ones that we can,” Leonard said.

The adoption fees for a horse range from $100 to $1,000. Adoption days are every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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