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ASPCA launches pilot program for horse owners in need in OKC

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - The ASPCA is working to help horse owners in need in the Oklahoma City area with a new open-admission support center.

The pilot program serves as a network, connecting them with re-homing services, vet care, and euthanasia if necessary.

"She's really pretty, cute, well-mannered, she moves nice," Tom Persechino with the ASPCA said of a bay mare named Cher. "She's going to make somebody a really nice horse."

Cher is a current resident at Nexus Equine in Oklahoma City.

Persechino says since Cher's surrender, she's had a lot of time in training, preparing her to be the perfect riding partner - a great example of the perception and system change he and others are pushing for.

"When people think about 'rescue horses' their immediate thought is there might be something wrong with them and there's not," he said.

The Oklahoma City area is home to the second pilot of this program.

The first was in North Texas - where nearly 70 horses were helped in less than 6 months.

What the ASPCA is doing is working to create a network of programs like Nexus that help re-home horses - as well as OKC Animal Welfare - where animals are surrendered.

They then connect with rescues in other states.

For example - Nexus recently exchanged 5 companion type horses for 10 minis in Minnesota - who need a little socialization.

"They're actually in training now and they are learning manners and they are going to make somebody some great animals," Persechino said.

A new element included in this pilot program is engaging a group of stakeholders from the equine industry like the Oklahoma State Veterinarian and Remington Park.

"It's all about getting this collaborative group of people together to talk about how we can move the needle and get horses to good welfare," said Persechino.

This network, providing a judgment-free zone to find the best option for horses and their owners because that's not always easy to find.

"When a person has a dog or a cat and they can no longer keep that dog or cat for whatever reason or they have an emergency veterinary bill for that dog or cat," Persechino said. "There are publicly-supported places that they can go for help for that dog or cat. That's not the situation for horses."

More than 70 horses have received services since the pilot launched in August in OKC.

If you'd like to make an appointment with the Oklahoma City area ASPCA Regional Support Center, please call 405-423-1461 or email equinesupport@aspca.org

To learn more about the ASPCA's efforts to improve the welfare of equines, visit their website.

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