EXCLUSIVE: SPCA explains why seized horses sent to auction

CALGARY- The Alberta SPCA is explaining why dozens of seized horses were sent to a recent livestock auction in High River, causing outrage.

The organization seized nearly 60 starving horses from a farm near Lethbridge back in January, and some were so sick or aggressive that they had to be euthanized. 29 were sent to foster farms where they racked up $10,000 in medical and feed bills.

The SPCA then offered the animals up at an auction in early April—and potential buyers included those looking to sell horse meat.

“I think it’s horrendous that this is happening today, that we haven’t had an emergency adopt-a-thon of these horses,” complains horse enthusiast Keely Dobbyn. “I know lots of people that would go out and try and rescue these animals, and instead this is the easy way out.”

However, the SPCA maintains that selling livestock at auction is more transparent than through private sales.

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“Some people could come back to us and say ‘why didn’t you give me the chance to get this horse?’ If it goes to auction, then everyone who attends the auction has the ability to bid on the horse,” explains Roland Lines, communications manager for the Alberta SPCA. “[Horses] are part of the livestock industry, so the possibility of horses going for meat is certainly there. As an agency, we don’t take a preference one way or another.”

Five of the healthiest horses were adopted out, while the others who needed rehabilitation were sent to foster homes, then to market. A livestock dealer who purchased 15 of them confirmed that he will sell at least seven of them to a kill plant in Fort Macleod.

Critics say it’s wrong to help rescued horses, then make them available to the horsemeat industry.

“It’s 2013,” says Dobbyn. “This is horse country and we love our horses and we need to treat them better.”