For about four years, Lafayette Animal Control has had a program that connects abandoned horses with people who want to give them a warm, loving home and a second chance.
The equine adoption program seeks to match horses with appropriate owners through a rigorous application process to ensure the person who wants to adopt is capable of caring for the animal.
“We’ve had horses abandoned on the roadside, horses roaming and horses that have not been taken care of by their owners,” said Virginia Lee, Lafayette Animal Control supervisor. “Cruelty. We try to send them into a better environment.”
One of the horses rescued by the shelter, Fancy, was adopted Friday by a New Iberia couple, Cody and Blair Segura.
“I could cry,” said Blair Segura, a stay-at-home mom. “I’ve always wanted a horse.”
The Seguras have about 20 acres of land near the Cajun Sugar Mill for Blair Segura and Fancy to ride. Blair Segura’s mom had told her about the program.
“I could tell just looking at her that she was the best horse for Blair to ride,” Cody Segura said.
Fancy was found on the side of a road in Youngsville, her back covered in rain rot and starving.
“It was bad,” Blair Segura said. “She was really skinny. You could see all her bones and everything. She looks awesome now.”
This is often the case for horses that come to the shelter. The program only takes in horses that have been abandoned, officials said.
“We get a lot of horses that come in emaciated,” kennel supervisor Troy Venable said. “We get them back in shape and back to the public.”
Venable tends to the horses on weekdays by himself, ensuring their recovery from the abuse and abandonment they’ve suffered. He had horses of his own before he began working with abandoned horses.
Fancy is one of about 75 horses that have come through the equine adoption program. Most horses stay at the off-site barn for about six months.
After the application and $25 deposit are turned in, Lafayette Animal Control will send a representative to the prospective horse owner’s property where the horse would be kept to check to make sure everything is up to snuff.
“We’re going to work with you to make sure things are appropriate for the horse because we don’t want them back in the same environment,” Venable said. “Then our deposit fee goes to the adoption fee of $150. It’s very minimal for what we give you.”
The reason the shelter goes to such lengths is simple.
“It’s to get the horses back into society and into the right hands again,” Venable said. “We don’t want them going back into the same circumstance they came out of.”
The program, including the cost of maintaining the horses, is paid for by Lafayette Consolidated Government. The adoption fee is only a fraction of the total cost of caring for the horse, Venable said.
He said the $150 is “just a drop in the bucket” of the cost to maintain the animals.
As for those interested in adopting a horse from the shelter, Venable said they should make sure they have enough land and educate themselves on caring for horses.