Emily Diaz has been an animal control officer in Skagit County for six years and noticed when the economy slumped, there was a rise in cases of horses being dumped into the wild.
"They can't survive like that," Diaz said. "They depend on humans to care for them."
Earlier this year, Officer Diaz found a pony wandering a road in Mount Vernon, and after about a month when no one claimed the animal, she started to wonder if the owners meant to dump it there.
Now, Jana the Shetland pony is at a foster home. But she's just one of 15 horses up for adoption in the county.
Diaz says years ago, it was rare to see a horse go unclaimed.
"If we had a horse running loose, there would be an owner nearby," Diaz said. "Now, if a horse is running loose, we wonder if we're going to be able to find an owner."
It costs owners about $300 a month to maintain a horse. Almost everyday, Diaz hears stories about people who admit they can't make ends meet.
"They're not making the money they were making before, or there's tons of reasons," she said.
Diaz says we all have to ride out the tough times until things will get better.
"It's unfortunate because these guys are suffering quite a bit because of the economy," Diaz said.
You can find more information on adopting a horse or becoming a volunteer foster home at this link.