Horse Owners Forced To Say Goodbye

Gayle Kaye with her horse Genny. (EN piece, Sandra Hughes)
She's always owned horses, but Gayle Kaye said with cutbacks at work, she may have to give up her lifelong passion.

"Working for the state is very difficult right now," Kaye said. "So I'm losing the money to feed three of these animals."

Even worse, while her paycheck has gone down, gas and hay prices have gone up, reports CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes.

"I don't know what more we can do," Kaye said. "I don't know how much more I can do."

Saying good-bye to thoroughbred Genny will be the hardest.

"She needs a home and I can't afford to keep her much longer," Kaye said. "She's my baby girl. "

Jill Starr runs Lifesavers Horse Rescue. She's been flooded with calls and e-mails.

"I keep taking more and I say, that's it, I can't take anymore," said Starr. "But there's another sad story."

The saddest is perhaps China, the first horse adopted from her rescue 12 years ago.

"The economy has forced China to come back," Starr said. "She's come home! I never thought I would see her again - and here she is."

But with 245 horses on her 46-acre ranch, she's reached her limit.

It's the same story across the country: animal rescues are full, so desperate owners are abandoning their prized animals. In Nevada, two horses were left on the highway, waiting for their owners to return.

In 2006, in Riverside County, Calif., 70 horses were abandoned. Last year, that number almost quadrupled to 246.

Those increases have lead 13 states to consider re-legalizing slaughterhouses, after successful animal rights campaigns shut down the last two in the United States in 2007.

In Montana, the bill is on the governor's desk.

"How is the United States, going to dispose of 150,000 excess horses each year?" asked Montana state Rep. Ed Butcher during a legislative session.

Horse lovers like Jill Starr are appalled.

"I really want people to understand that this is a temporary situation that we're in," she said.

But even temporary homes are becoming scarce.