Euthanasia Policy

Days End Farm Horse Rescue (DEFHR) operates as an equine rescue and rehabilitation facility, serving as a resource for animal protection authorities in Maryland and the surrounding states. Every impounded horse that arrives at DEFHR is seen by a veterinarian within 24 hours; during this visit, DEFHR staff work with the veterinarian to identify the most critical issues each horse is facing and develop a custom care and treatment plan. It is DEFHR's ultimate goal to rehabilitate and re-home each horse.

With a rehabilitative success rate of 98%, most horses in DEFHR's care make a full recovery. Once each horse has regained its health, the horse is evaluated by DEFHR's professional training staff to determine its suitability for exercise and riding. Based on this evaluation, each horse begins a custom training program to help advance the horse's skills as an equine partner with the goal of finding a suitable forever home. DEFHR takes pride in having placed 94% of its horses in loving homes.

In some rare cases - such as dangerous temperament or chronic and severe pain conditions -  adoption is not a suitable option for the horse and DEFHR may consider humanely euthanizing the animal. Days End Farm Horse Rescue does not employ euthanasia as a method of population control. 

There are several circumstances in which DEFHR may consider euthanasia as a humane and responsible choice. Among the most common of these are:

  • Incurable or progressive disease
  • Incurable or transmissible disease
  • Chronic or severe lameness
  • Inoperable colic
  • Foals born with serious defects
  • Severe debilitation in old age
  • Severe traumatic injury
  • Dangerous behavioral traits
  • Undue suffering for any reason

Euthanasia is often a highly emotional issue, yet it is important to address the situation from a practical standpoint. In all cases - whether dealing with an emergency situation, chronic pain condition, or a long-term illness - DEFHR staff consult with a team of veterinarians, reviewing any medical information to fully understand the horse's current condition and future implications as well as discussing available treatment and care management options.

DEFHR considers following questions with the veterinarian before determining a course of action:

  • Is the horse suffering?
  • How long will the horse experience the current level of pain or debility?
  • Is the horse's condition chronic or incurable?
  • Does the immediate condition suggest a hopeless prognosis for life?
  • Is the horse a hazard to itself or its handlers?
  • Does the horse continue to show an interest and desire to live, or has it become depressed or despondent?
  • What kind of special care will the horse require, and can DEFHR or an adopter meet its needs?
  • Can DEFHR continue to provide for the horse financially?
  • What are the alternatives?

Choosing whether, or when, to end a beloved animal's life is not a decision DEFHR takes lightly; the decision to euthanize, or induce a painless death, is never made without careful consideration.