The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Nov. 19 announced that a total of $250,000 is being granted to 53 equine welfare organizations and animal control agencies across 19 states as part of its Equine ‘Hay Bale-Out’ grant program. The funds will provide relief for horses impacted by the high cost and low supply of hay in these drought-stricken states.

Soaring temperatures, widespread drought, wildfires, and export to Asian markets have depleted the supply of hay, creating a desperate need among equine caretakers. The cost of hay has been driven upward at an alarming rate, as the supply and quality of hay dwindles, with bales of hay costing up to $25 in some regions.

"The ASPCA knows of the devastating hardships that the equine community is facing this year due to the immense shortages and skyrocketing costs of hay," said Jacques Schultz, senior director of the ASPCA Equine Fund. "Our Hay Bale-Out program provides the dedicated equine caretakers with the funds needed to properly care for their animals, and we are thankful that we are able to assist those who are struggling to feed their horses and donkeys."

Diane Zook, president of the Beartooth Humane Alliance of Montana, one of the groups receiving a grant through the ASPCA’s Hay Bale-Out program, added, "This past season has seen hay production merely a third of normal production due to persevering drought conditions. We predict the low inventory and high costs of hay will make this an exceptionally challenging winter for families already struggling to feed their horses. This gift will allow us to proactively help qualifying