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Wild Horses a Challenge for Adoptive Owners

June 20, 2002|SUFIYA ABDUR-RAHMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There are a few things required to adopt a wild horse: money, a proper corral and enough patience to deal with an animal that may kick you for petting it.

For those ready to take up the challenge, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is offering more than 100 wild horses and burros for adoption this weekend in Woodland Hills.

"The adoption program is basically our only means of finding these animals a home in the private sector," said Doran Sanchez, a spokesman for the bureau. Animals are offered for adoption several times a month at various locations in the western United States.

About 80 mustangs and 30 burros from Northern California and the high deserts of Nevada will be brought to Pierce College for the three-day viewing and adoption, said Mindy Odom, California's adoption coordinator for the bureau.

But beware of the responsibilities that come with adopting a wild horse, said Becky Borquez, California's coordinator of the American Mustang & Burro Assn.

"They're not for everyone," Borquez said. Adopters "really need to make a commitment to the time and energy and money," she said.

Borquez spent $1,000 in veterinary bills within months of adopting a bay horse from the bureau in 1986. Still, she said, there's nothing better than riding her horse on the trails near her Shadow Hills home.

Sanchez said the bureau has been putting wild horses up for adoption since 1973 to ease overpopulation in areas where wild animals roam. And for the most part, he said, the Adopt-A-Horse program has been successful, with 185,000 animals adopted.

Minimum bids are $125 for a mustang, $125 for a jenny, or female burro, and $25 for a jack, or male burro. Horses usually go for less than $200, but bids have reached $1,000, Odom said.

"The only time it gets into hot and heavy bidding is when two people just have to have the same animal," she said.

Adopters must be at least 18 and sign a contract that they have adequate facilities and financial means to care for the animal.

For one year after the adoption, the bureau will retain the title to the horse and make visits to be sure the animal is properly cared for. After one year, adopters may apply for the title or sell the horse.

The horses and burros may be previewed from noon to 5 p.m. Friday and 7 to 9 a.m. Saturday at Pierce College, 6201 Winnetka Ave. The auction will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday.

After that, the remaining animals will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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