Horses Recovering after Mountain Rescue

A pair of horses that were rescued from the side of a mountain in British Columbia will be placed in adoptive homes, after the SPCA rejected a request from their owner to return them to him.

Horse owner Frank MacKay left Belle and Sundance, a 3-year-old mare and 14-year-old gelding, in the mountains of British Columbia last September. According to MacKay, the horses could not make it across the terrain back to the road.

The SPCA has recommended that charges be brought against MacKay for permitting an animal to be in distress. "We're optimistic we'll be hearing from the Crown (Prosecution Service) in the next week," said Shawn Eccles, British Columbia SPCA chief animal protection officer.

MacKay, a lawyer from Edmonton, Alberta, had told newspapers he made two attempts to retrieve his horses, but gave up and left them with eight liters of Gatorade and 30 pounds of oats and alfalfa pellets.

Snowmobilers found the stranded horses in December. Volunteers from the nearby community of McBride spent a week digging a path through half a mile of six-foot-deep snow. Belle and Sundance were able to walk to safety on the path on Dec. 23.

When the pair were rescued, they ranked a 2 on the Henneke body condition scale, and had frostbite and lice. Eccles said both are gaining weight.

Belle and Sundance will be separated, one going to a farm in Kamloops and the other to a farm in Prince George. "We would have liked them to stay together, but they'll both have new companions at these farms," said Eccles.

When contacted, MacKay said he was not able to comment on the situation at this time.

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Liz Brown

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