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Key practices for success: a qualitative analysis of equine rescue and adoption practices




McGarity, Kylie, author
Black, Jerry, advisor
Enns, Kellie, committee member
Cadaret, Caitlin, committee member

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Estimates predict there are now 602 rescues and sanctuaries in the United States which can accommodate only 24,000 of the excess 200,000 unwanted horses every year. It is predicted that 138,000-160,000 of the unwanted horses are sold on the international meat market but increasing opposition from the public could end the practice. Equine industry leaders state that rescue and sanctuary organizations could play a key role in accommodating the excess horses, but the number of horses served must drastically increase to close the gap. Research revealing elements which may increase the quality or quantity of equine adoptions is deficient. Further, the human-horse relationship is unique from other companion animals and the factors surrounding successful equine adoptions is largely unreported. Using data extracted from semi-structured interviews with key informants from highly accredited equine rescue and sanctuary organizations, this study aimed to gather a common definition of "successful adoption" while identifying practices in general equine management, adoption procedures, finance, and marketing which may help lead to more successful equine adoptions. The analysis revealed that a successful equine adoption is a partnership between horse and adopter in which the horse meets the adopter's specific and appropriate needs, the abilities and limitations of horse and adopter are appropriately balanced, and the adopter puts the needs of the horse first resulting in the adopter caring for the horse through the duration of the horse's life. The data argues that successful equine rescue organizations have the ability to build relationships, maintain trust and transparency, facilitate supportive community including providing pre-adoption and post-adoption education, promote conversation-based adoption processes, and continually act as a resource for adopters throughout the horse's life. It was found that the most significant hinderance to growth was availability of funding resources which influenced the marketing ability of participating organizations.


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