Tough times mean horses killed for meat (Canada)

Waiting lists at shelters mean unscrupulous dealers saddle up

Cross-posted from The Province

Province Horses
Rejected horses find some tender care at Hayburner Haven in Langley, but the demand is so great the refuge has a waiting list of 10. Horses, says refuge operator Tara Nicholson, are considered a luxury item. “When things get tough, they’re one of the first things that have to go,” she says.
Photograph by : Les Bazso


They drop off their horses, hoping someone will give them the care they require.

But, as waiting lists lengthen at legitimate horse-adoption facilities across the Fraser Valley, rescue groups are warning about their unscrupulous counterparts.

They’re the ones using the tough economic times to make a quick buck in the horsemeat market.

Langley-based horse-hauler Kevan Garecki said some rescue groups take in horses under the auspices of adoption, only to “turn around and sell them for meat.”

“There really is a darker side to this whole issue,” he said yesterday.

While the SPCA becomes involved any time it learns about animal mistreatment, Garecki said people should be wary.

“Do your homework,” he advised.

“Ask for references of people who have adopted before you bring your horse.

“The SPCA is always my first choice,” he said.

Garecki said he used to get about two calls a month from people asking him to help them find a new home for their horses.

This winter, he’s getting a few calls every week.

“Horses are considered a luxury item for people,” he said, adding the cost to feed and board horses through the winter is steep.

“When things get tough, they’re one of the first things that have to go.”

Tara Nicholson at Hayburner Haven in Langley said she has a 10-horse waiting list for people wanting to give up their horses.

“We haven’t been able to keep up,” she said.

Hayburner used to get a call every other day. Now that number has jumped to several calls each day — and up to 12 calls on weekends.

Nicholson has started going to look at the horses before she agrees to adopt them.

“Some people are desperate. They’ll say anything to get you to take their horse, even if it’s sick or lame,” she said.

Sometimes, horses show up unexpectedly in the Hayburner driveway. Other people hear about the facility’s waiting list and choose to put down their horses instead.

“There are fewer people looking to adopt [horses], so that impacts us, too,” she added.

While she’s never encountered it herself, Nicholson has heard about people who take in horses and then sell them for meat.

“It’s usually . . . individuals, not the reputable horse-adoption agencies,” she said.

According to the Okanagan-based Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, there are seven horse abattoirs operating in Canada — two in Quebec, two in Alberta, and one each in Ontario, Saskatchewan and B.C.

On average, the operations kill a total of more than 100,000 horses each year. The Province >>

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