SPCA seizes 100 starving horses from Alberta ranch
By JENNIFER FONG
Canwest News Service
Monday, March 10, 2008
EDMONTON – Animal-welfare officials have seized 27 dead horses as well as about 100 they found starving, but alive, from a ranch northeast of Edmonton.
The Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also found deceased and neglected horses, rabbits, chickens, ducks, goats, and sheep, that “were in need of care, proper feed, proper water,” SPCA provincial field supervisor and peace officer Ken Dean said Sunday.
Dean said the society conducted a search and seizure on the farm, southeast of Andrew and about 65 kilometres from Edmonton, Feb. 26 following a public complaint. The SPCA found the horses, most of them Arabians, in a field in three different locations, while the smaller animals were kept in barns and sheds.
Most had adequate space, Dean said, but some had dangerously low body fat. The smaller animals, had little to no food, he said. The horses were fed only straw.
“Straw will not sustain animals through the winter,” Dean said. “It has very low nutritional value.”
A member of the Canadian Arabian Horse Registry confirmed the ranch belongs to Hinz-Schleuter Arabians. Calls to the ranch were not answered.
Oelivia Chasse, who lives next door the Hinz-Schleuter Arabians, was concerned about the condition of the horses three years ago. “It was very cold and the horses had not shelter or food,” she said. “They were very thin.”
Chasse thought conditions for the animals would improve in the spring, but as she watched the animals continue to look malnourished, she reported her neighbour to the SPCA.
After animals have been seized by the SPCA owners have the opportunity to make a claim to get them back within 10 days, Dean said. The ranch owner has made no such claim, he said.
According to the Arabian Breeders Network website, the surviving horses will be auctioned off on Thursday. Tex Kam, communications director for the Canadian Arabian Horse Registry, went to the auction mart in Clyde. Alta., on Saturday to help the SPCA identify some of the seized horses.
He said about 30 per cent were “emaciated, basically just skin and bones.” About half were skinny, although the remaining 20 per cent were in good condition. The average Arabian, he said, is worth between $1,500 and $2,500.
Kam said he knows Hinz-Schleuter but hasn’t seen him in eight years.
The SPCA’s investigation is ongoing but results are expected in two weeks.
Penalties for ill-treatment of animals can include a prohibition order and a fine of up to $20,000. Police are not expected to get involved in the case and no charges have been laid.
Bill desBarres, a board member of Alberta Farm Animal Care, said these types of situations are not common in Alberta. “They are very, very rare.”
-with files from Ryan Cormier Dean
© Canwest News Service 2008