Twenty-seven horses have been seized from a Murrayville property and charges are expected, according to the BC SPCA.
The horses were in various stages of distress when they were seized on Dec. 15, 2018, BC SPCA Const. Eileen Drever announced Monday.
The horses were seized off a property in the 4300-block of 224th Street, where they were living in unsanitary and muddy pastures with hazardous objects, had lack of nutrition, lice infestation, overgrown hooves, rainscald from inadequate shelter, and lack of access to water, according to Drever.
“We received a complaint about the condition of the horses, and we responded,” she said, explaining that happened back in early December.
“The investigation is just about complete now, so we will be recommending charges to Crown counsel, and it’s up to Crown counsel if they will proceed with the charges,” Drever explained.
It could included charges under the Criminal Code of Canada, which carry penalties of up to five years imprisonment and as much as $10,000 fine. Or it could be charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act that carry a maximum lifetime prohibition of possessing animals, two years in jail, and a $75,000 fine, Drever said.
“The goal when we come across an animal in distress is to give the owner or caregiver an opportunity to relieve that distress. The owner failed in this case. As a result we were successful in the application of a search warrant.”
Drever explained that the SPCA waited six weeks before making the situation public because they were waiting to see if the seizure would be disputed.
“The owner or caregiver can dispute the seizure, and that’s to a third party, and so much time has to pass for that. This individual did not dispute the seizure and that’s why we just made the announcement,” she said.
Drever understands it’s hard in the Lower Mainland to have dry paddocks and pastures for animals, but said “you have to take that into account and provide a dry area for your horses.”
“They had very little food, and most horses did not have access to water.”
Right now, the seized animals are being housed at the Surrey SPCA barn.
According to Drever, some of the horses have already been adopted.
“Some horses have actually come around and are doing really well. Some of the horses will be with us a bit longer because we have to ensure they are completely healthy.”
The identity of the horse owner has yet to be revealed.
Sharon Wells-Ackermans, president of the Horse Protection Society of BC, confirmed with Black Press that none of the horses belong to her Langley-based rescue organization, despite its past affiliation with the property in question.
She did acknowledge that her group rented the same property for approximately 10 years, and called it a “difficult property to upkeep.” But she noted her team downsized and relocated to its current home, at 24463 16th Ave., back in 2017.
Although the Horse Protection Society of BC won’t be taking any of the seized horses – since they are at maximum capacity – Wells-Ackermans said she’s “crossing her fingers,” they’ll find homes.
“The people in the horse community, I’m hoping, will step forward.”
To date, the BC SPCA has spent more than $30,000 caring for these horses, including providing necessary medical treatment.
For adoption information, people can call the SPCA at 604-574-1171.