Future of McBride horses dug out of snow up in the air (CAN)

By JADED MARE

Oh, look. A lawyer leaves his horses for dead in the snow, and nobody wants to prosecute because they are scared because he went to law school and might make a big fuss or something because he didn’t break any rules, really. Bleh.

What heroes who spent a week during the festive season digging a half mile long escape route for these horses, saving their lives. Where was Mackay? Perhaps he didn’t have a shovel.

In these photos provided by Marc Lavigne via The Canadian Press, rescuers lead the horses down the 1 km long trench that volunteers dug in six feet of snow near McBride, B.C., Tuesday Dec. 23, 2008. Two frostbitten, emaciated horses spent Christmas inside a warm barn after they were rescued from deep snow in northeastern B.C. Volunteers spent days digging the animals out of the snow. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press/HO) (Marc Lavigne - AP)
In these photos provided by Marc Lavigne via The Canadian Press, rescuers lead the horses down the 1 km long trench that volunteers dug in six feet of snow near McBride, B.C., Tuesday Dec. 23, 2008. Two frostbitten, emaciated horses spent Christmas inside a warm barn after they were rescued from deep snow in northeastern B.C. Volunteers spent days digging the animals out of the snow. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press/HO) (Marc Lavigne - AP)

SPCA ponders legal options for rescued horses
Written by FRANK PEEBLES
Cross-posted from the Prince George Citizen

A number of legal options are open to the SPCA as it pursues the investigation centred on a pair of snowbound horses rescued last month from Mount Renshaw near McBride.

Charges have not been laid against Edmonton lawyer Frank Mackay, but recommendations will be in the hands of provincial Crown prosecutors around Jan. 15, said a provincial SPCA official.

“That date would satisfy all statutes of limitation,” said Shawn Eccles, chief animal protection officer for the B.C. SPCA. “Under the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act we have six months from the time of the offence taking place in which to lay a charge, but the Canadian Criminal Code was changed recently to (allow for) indictable offences in the area of animal cruelty, so there is no statutory limit in which to lay the charges if we can meet those standards.”

He is not sure which prosecutorial route the SPCA will take in the presentation of the evidence to the Crown, and it is entirely up to prosecutors which charges, if any, will be laid.

MacKay, the horses’ owner, came forward after the nearly-dead mare and gelding were dug from deep snow and escorted to safety by McBride residents. Mackay said he was delivering supplies to hikers on Mount Renshaw on Sept. 12 when he became separated from the animals. His final attempt to bring them home was made at a time when he felt there was too much snow to wade through in what he felt was their weakened condition. He left them there to die, having no gun to dispose of them more quickly.

“Our understanding is the owner does not live in B.C., and the B.C. legislation only applies to British Columbia, but under the Criminal Code any order made by the judge would be valid across Canada,” Eccles said.

He said the number of e-mails and voice messages received by the SPCA has been staggering, and some are vehement that the horses not be returned to Mackay. There are laws prohibiting such unilateral action, Eccles said.

“We are obligated under the law to offer owners the opportunity to state their case as to why they should get their animals back and we are obligated to consider those things. That does not mean he will get his animals back. The law provides objectives that must be met and suffice it to say we will make the right decision even if the owner doesn’t like that decision.”

In 2007, the B.C. SPCA conducted 4,647 cruelty investigations. That year, 1,501 animals were removed from dangerous or neglectful situations and an additional 4,007 injured animals were rescued.
Eccles said he could not say how long it would take Crown to respond after the SPCA submits its charge package. PrinceGeorgeCitizen.com >>