Dozens of wild horses and burros gathered from roaming herds in the western United States will be put up for adoption next weekend in Burbank.
Run by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the adoptions reflect an effort to curb overpopulation and maintain ecological balance on public range lands in California and Nevada. Since the program began in 1973, it has placed more than 175,000 horses with private owners across the country.
But the "Adopt-a-Horse or Burro" program has been criticized by animal rights groups that contend that the government has historically failed to protect the animals from meat-packing companies. In 1998, the controversy prompted the cancellation of an adoption event planned for Pierce College in Woodland Hills.
Officials have taken steps to ensure the animals are placed in safe homes, including keeping the title to the animal for a year after adoption and conducting home visits to see that it is being cared for properly.