100 Horses Seized from Alberta Farm, Recovering

Officials removed a herd of 100 horses from a farm near Edmonton, Alberta, Feb. 26, after the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) received complaints about the animals allegedly being without food or shelter. The animals are recovering in the care of area volunteers and veterinarians.

According to Morris Airey, director of SPCA's Animal Protection Services, officers seized the horses, thought to be Arabian and part-bred Arabians, along with numerous ducks, rabbits, chickens, goats, and sheep, from Hinz-Schleuter Arabians in Andrew. While investigating the property, they also discovered 27 horse carcasses, as well as a number of other dead animals.

Airey said while he's been involved in large search and seizure operations before--including a herd of 40 horses earlier this year--this is the largest, and it's one of the worst cases of horses in distress he's seen.

"Some of the horses were in better shape than others, but most were in very poor condition." Airey said. "Some were down in body condition, and others were emaciated."

As the SPCA doesn't have facilities or resources to care for this many seized animals, the original plan was to auction the horses in mid-March. Rather than see the horses sold, Arabian breeder and trainer Susan Fyfe, owner of Keno Hills Stables in Sherwood Park (a suburb of Edmonton), offered to nurse the horses back to health.

"I was concerned that the horses would be purchased by people with good hearts, but perhaps lacking the skills and facilities to bring such animals back to health," Fyfe said. Together with members of the Alberta horse community, Fyfe formed Rescue 100, a nonprofit group to handle the expenses of rehabilitating the horses. Resources such as money and supplies left over when the horses are well and have been placed in new homes will be donated to the SPCA.

The horses arrived at Keno Hills March 12 and have been under the supervision of stable employees and volunteers, including veterinary staff from Herbers Veterinary Services in Sherwood Park. No decisions have been made on the horses' eventual dispersal when they are healthy. "We're taking things daily, looking after the horses' needs first, before we make decisions about how they'll be adopted out," Fyfe said.

Axel Hinz-Schleuter, 45, and Dale Huber, 55, were charged under Alberta's Animal Protection Act with 12 counts of allowing animals to be in distress and failure to provide duties of care. Hinz-Schleuter has a 2005 conviction under the provincial act and was fined $1,000. At that time the courts neither issued an edict against owning animals, nor did they allow the SPCA to make routine inspections.

Under Alberta's Animal Protection Act, persons found guilty of allowing animals to be in distress can be subject to fines of up to $20,000 and banned from owning animals for life.

Resources to learn more about the horses and how you can help:

Information about volunteering or donating supplies or funds can be found at any of these sites.

About the Author

Jodi DeLong

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