ARVADA, Colo. — To keep a barn running, there are of course the chores, and the mud, but when you get down to it, it takes more than that.
"A lot of heart work," said Margaret Blaha, the director of operations at the Horse Protection League.
There’s no shortage of heart here at HPL, a rescue that takes in neglected, abused, and surrendered horses in Colorado with no place left to go. Unfortunately, passion is not enough to keep the barn doors open.
"We've seen a number of increases in both the costs of everything and also animals that are coming into the rescue. We've also—the more alarming thing on my end—is that we've seen a reduction in adoption," said Blaha.
While the 32 horses in their care remain blissfully unaware, Blaha sees the impact of inflation on the work they do every day.
"In 2021, we were able to successfully adopt 21 horses, which was amazing, and then last year in 2022, we were only able to adopt three," she said.
The pandemic brought with it a nationwide adoption boom. Current inflation, however, has pet owners across the country second guessing their ability to keep their animals.
A recent study by Forbes says 63% of pet owners said inflation has made it more difficult to pay a surprise vet bill. Vet bills of $1,000 and under would cause 42% of pet owners to go into debt. At rescues like the Horse Protection League, where they spend thousands of dollars per horse per year, the lack of adoptions and the increase in surrendered animals coming in has created anxieties about how long they can keep going.
"We hope to see some changes probably within the next four months, three to four months, for us to feel a little bit more comfortable with the upcoming year," Blaha said.
Animal rescues need help from the public right now and Blaha says there are more ways to do that than adopting an animal or giving a big sum of money since times are tough for everyone. There are more creative ways like business sponsorships or donating equipment, and people can also look into membership options for rescues near them.
Although this rescue is struggling, they have a strong team of volunteers determined to carry on their mission. It’s the heart work that’s giving Blaha hope they can survive these turbulent economic times because when it comes to the animals in need they serve, they have no other choice but to keep going for them.
"With gratitude, we have volunteers of all different walks of life that have something in common when it comes to loving animals and wanting to provide the best that they possibly can," Blaha said.