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Alberta SPCA has taken in more than 600 animals this winter; 10 horses found dead

Click to play video: 'Alberta SPCA takes in 600+ animals; charges laid after 10 horses found dead' Alberta SPCA takes in 600+ animals; charges laid after 10 horses found dead
WATCH: The Alberta SPCA has taken in 675 animals this winter, most over concerns of a lack of food. More than 100 animals have been found dead, including 10 horses recently and the owner has just been charged. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports. – Mar 16, 2022

The Alberta SPCA has taken in 675 animals this winter, the majority because of concerns with lack of food. More than 100 animals have been found dead, including 10 horses recently.

Twenty cattle were seized in February by the Alberta SPCA at a property west of Edmonton. The malnourished animals were taken to a care-taking property.

“It’s been a tough couple of years for everybody,” said Dan Kobe, communications manager at the Alberta SPCA.

“Unfortunately not feeding your animal is not acceptable, even if you’re having trouble finding feed or you can’t afford it.  If that is a situation that an animal owner is in, then they have to do an evaluation of the herd and reduce the number of animals that they have so they do have enough feed for them.”

Read more: Alberta SPCA lay more charges against man and woman involved in horse neglect investigation

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Kobe said seven horses were surrendered northeast of Edmonton in February by owners who didn’t have enough food. They are now in the care of two rescue groups.

Alberta SPCA rescue horses near Edmonton December 2021. Alberta SPCA

Ten horses were found dead last month at a property near Bonnyville.

Last week the owner was charged with causing animals to be in distress, failure to provide adequate food or water, and failure to provide adequate care to an animal that is wounded or ill.

“It’s unfortunate that quite a number of the animals that we go to see don’t make it,” Kobe said.

Read more: $10K worth of hay bales set to be donated to Alberta SPCA stolen from provincial park

Kobe said it will be mid-May before livestock owners will be able to rely on pasture land for feed.

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“We encourage everyone to do a quick check with their animals, do the math and count the number of animals. Figure out how many hay bales you need and if you don’t have enough to get you to mid-May, then you either have to go find hay and pay the cost or reduce the number of animals in your care,” Kobe said.

Click to play video: 'Albertans unable to afford food for animals amid COVID-19 are getting much-needed support' Albertans unable to afford food for animals amid COVID-19 are getting much-needed support
Albertans unable to afford food for animals amid COVID-19 are getting much-needed support – Apr 25, 2020

“Many producers culled some of their breeding cows. They just couldn’t afford to keep them all,” said Jason Hale.

The vice chair of Alberta Beef Producers also ranches with his family near Bassano. He said recovery from this dire situation will depend on the rainfall Alberta gets this spring and summer.

“I know down here, you count to see how many bales you have left and how long you can go. When you run out of hay, I don’t think you’re going to be able to find it,” Hale said.

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Read more: Calgary-area horse sanctuary at capacity; founder concerned about fate of Alberta wild horses in 2020

The horses at Free Spirit Sanctuary northwest of Cochrane are getting a second chance on life.

Owner Sandie Hucal cares for 17 horses that likely wouldn’t be around had she not accepted them.

But with the dramatic increase in the the price of hay, Hucal made the difficult decision to not take in any more rescues.

Hay is hard to come by in Alberta in March 2022. Global News

“We just simply can’t afford to take in any more. We are pretty close to full.

“We just wouldn’t be able to afford the extra expense with the cost of hay now. Unfortunately the drought had a negative impact on horses because they are expensive animals to keep and when hay goes up that high, a lot of them get sent to auction,” Hucal said.

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Click to play video: 'Alberta ranchers struggling to feed cattle amidst extreme drought' Alberta ranchers struggling to feed cattle amidst extreme drought
Alberta ranchers struggling to feed cattle amidst extreme drought – Aug 3, 2021

Kobe said there have been far more cattle surrendered and seized than horses this winter.

“Fortunately, we haven’t had that many horses come into our care this year,” Kobe said.

“We are lucky that way because it can be tough to find enough people willing to take on horses, especially if the horses are high needs and haven’t been handled.”

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