NEW ORLEANS -- They are a big part of many parades, the horses that bring carnival krewe members and other groups along their parade routes.
Many of the riders own their horses. But some of them are brought into the city solely to be used in the parades. They're leased or purchased on the horse market and rented to the carnival krewes.
When the last parade of the season is over, the horses no longer have a job. In years past, the horses were returned to the horse trade where they could be sold at auction. That's when the animals' futures become uncertain.
There's a chance that the animals could be purchased by a loving owner who provides exceptional care for them. But there's also the chance that the animals could be purchased by slaughter houses.
Jeff Dorson, the director of the Humane Society of Louisiana, says the threat that the horses could be killed is real. This is his second year to lead an effort along with Cascade Stables to find responsible owners to adopt the horses.
Last year, Dorson says all 17 horses that were brought in were adopted. This year, 20 horses were brought in by Cascade Stables to be used by carnival krewes, and nine still need homes.
Dorson says the horses will probably be available until the end of the week. But they could be returned to the horse market and perhaps sold at auction to the highest bidder.
Each of the horses has an adoption fee that ranges from about $600 to $1,500. If you'd like to see this year's horses, including the nine that still need to be adopted, you can visit the Facebook page New Orleans Mardi Gras Horses Available for Adoption.