From today’s Globe and Mail. While I think horse slaughter is despicable, I agree heartily about the overbreeding. People need to start thinking in terms of what their breed needs, and what their discipline demands, instead of just throwing horses together because they can. (And get your damn dogs and cats fixed while you’re at it) We also need tougher animal cruelty laws in Canada and elsewhere.
An Ontario animal-welfare agency was thrown on the defensive yesterday after an auction notice listed for sale four animals in its care. Horse lovers had feared the animals might be sold for slaughter.
On the weekend, word spread on a horse fanciers’ discussion board that the Claremont Horse Auction, which takes place in a town just north of Toronto, included four animals from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in its website’s description of lots for a March 15 auction.
The OSPCA is empowered to seize neglected or maltreated animals, which are cared for until they can be adopted or found a place in one of dozens of operations that care for abandoned animals.
Representatives for the OSPCA, which acknowledged before a legislative committee last year that it is having difficulty matching donations to expenses, insisted yesterday that there was never any question of auctioned animals being sent to a slaughterhouse.
But they agreed that the organization is feeling the strain of caring for abandoned or maltreated horses while trying to find them new homes.
The auctioneer in charge of the March 15 sale could not be reached yesterday. Shortly after calls were placed to the auction house and the OSPCA, the auction’s website was altered to remove the reference to the agency’s animals.
Speculation that the horses might be sold for meat or rendering were wrong, an OSPCA official said.
“There’s two sides to every story and they’ve gotten some information and run to a conclusion that’s not necessarily so,” said Hugh Coghill, the OSPCA’s acting chief inspector.
The OSPCA investigates animal cruelty, operating 22 branches across the province. According to the agency’s figures, it investigated 16,478 complaints and took in 6,782 abandoned animals in 2005. That year it removed more than 250 horses.
Mr. Coghill said the staff member who administered the horse-adoption program at the OSPCA was under some strain and resigned from that position several weeks ago, although not from the OSPCA. That left the organization scrambling to find alternatives for the 14 horses it is now boarding.
At the same time, the OSPCA’s finance department was wondering why the organization was spending money boarding horses, at a cost of roughly $200 a month for each one, when it didn’t do the same for cats and dogs. In some cases, it was boarding horses for as long as a year, Mr. Coghill said.
“I suggested the livestock inspector speak to the auctioneer and see if we could arrange . . . if we took the horses to the auction that he could stop the sale and announce they were SPCA horses,” and require the buyer to sign an agreement ensuring the horses went to a good home.
“As a result of us making an inquiry . . . they put it on their website that four horses are coming to this sale,” Mr. Coghill said.
The auction was only one of several options being discussed, OSPCA chairman Jim Sykes said yesterday.
The OSPCA receives about $120,000 annually from the province for training its approximately 200 animal-protection officers. Mr. Sykes said he learned yesterday that the organization has now been approved for an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant.
He confirmed that about half of the organization’s board of directors resigned last year after the province gave the group a $1.8-million grant. The resignations were in protest over financial-management issues.
“The difference between what we were spending on animal welfare and what was being raised by donations and special events and other fundraising projects was about $3-million,” Mr. Sykes said. “It’s still about the same but we have ideas about where to go from here.”
Part of the problem, one expert says, is that North America has too many horses.
“There’s too many horses being bred and not enough places for them,” said Donna Hiscok, who owns True Colours Farm in Campbellville, Ont. “There is not a market for them.”