Animal advocates voice concern about horse welfare following crash near Kelowna

Click to play video 'Concerns over horse welfare following traffic crash' Concerns over horse welfare following traffic crash
Witnesses of a horrific crash involving a horse trailer are concerned about the roadside response when accidents involve animals. – Sep 8, 2019

After a horse trailer toppled over in a horrific collision in the Okanagan last Saturday, animal advocates are voicing concern that a horse was left in distress for too long.

Jeff Schulz happened to be one of the first people at the scene of the crash, which was in the Joe Rich area near Kelowna.

“There were two horses on top of each other, and they’re just fighting to get up,” he said.

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While one horse was OK, the other horse appeared to have a severed back leg, Schulz said.

“You could see the bone coming through the skin. Blood everywhere,” Schulz said. “And we couldn’t do anything. He laid there.”

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Schulz said it was an agonizing couple of hours as they waited for a vet, as police couldn’t do anything for the horse.

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Animal advocate Andrea Peters wants to see first responders given the tools they need to deal with collisions that involve vehicles transporting animals.

“First responders came, and even the ambulance driver was horribly upset,” Peters said. “She was crying in her ambulance knowing that there was nothing she could do. If we could give the tools to the people that can use them, then we would alleviate a lot of suffering.”

Laurie Takoff, with the Animal Lifeline Emergency Rescue Team, was immediately called to the crash.

Takoff said she sedated the horse as they waited for the veterinarian to arrive.

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While RCMP has direction on how to handle livestock and domestic animals, it’s not so clear with horses, she said.

“Horses are a grey area,” Takoff said. “The big deal with horses is that many times they’re extremely valuable animals and they’re insured, so insurance companies really are not too happy when things happen without a veterinarian’s approval.”

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Several groups in the area are working with the regional district to address the issue, so horses aren’t left in distress, she added.

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“The plan should look at what our first responders are trained in how to deal with these types of situations: who to call in if they need help with backup and how to deal with some of the large animals,” Takoff said.

Peters said something needs to be done soon because this isn’t the first time animals have suffered on the side of the highway.

In January, dozens of pigs were left in distress for hours as officials struggled to deal with the situation.

“A life has to matter. It has to matter as much. There has to be the urgency behind it and there can never ever be the attitude of ‘it’s just an animal’ because that’s just not acceptable,” she said.

RCMP could not be reached for comment.