Help is available for horse owners who can't afford to pay the rising cost of hay.
Two Denver-area nonprofit organizations known as hay banks use donated money to buy hay and also accept donations of hay. The Hay Bank of Colorado, in Parker, and the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank, in Evergreen, distribute the hay to needy owners.
A ton of hay in Colorado costs between $350 and $500. That's as much as three times higher than a year ago, said Katrina Schou of the Colorado Humane Society.
"You have to show a need," she said of the hay banks. "They'll help you (temporarily). You may need to demonstrate that you have a plan in place for after (that)."
The hay banks can acquire hay from other states for as low as $250 a ton. The high cost has forced many owners to abandon their horses or starve them.
Last month, the Colorado Humane Society seized around 20 horses in such conditions. They're being cared for and are recovering at an area horse shelter.
"If you've fallen on hard times, your animals depend on you to make that phone call," said Schou. "They can't make it themselves."
Joe Stafford of the Pikes Peak Humane Society said he believes few horse owners are aware of the hay banks.
"I'm still seeing the other side, the suffering horses," he said. "(Humane societies) want owners to seek help right away, before the animal suffers and we have to step in with a possible criminal case."
To contact the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank, visit http://www.horsefoodbank.org or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact The Hay Bank of Colorado, send a message to email@example.com.