Belinda Lyall, founder of the B.C Horse Angels, makes daily trips to care for over 30 horses she has rescued and put up for adoption. She is pictured here with Bunny, a young mare who is just closing in on her first birthday. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

B.C. Horse Angels battle ‘kill-buyers’ to stop horse slaughter

A non-profit organization in Salmon Arm, B.C. finds new homes for horses rescued from slaughter

Tucked away in a quiet stand of trees behind a subdivision in the south-west of Salmon Arm, a herd of horses roam happily in their fenced-in clearing. A pleasant breeze carries the unmistakeable mixture of hay, oats and the musky scent of the horses as they idly nibble at a bit of grass, swishing their tails side-to-side to ward off pesky flies. These horses look healthy and happy; from the proud geldings to the caring mares coaxing along their little foals, they look like animals that any horse-lover would be proud to own.

However, the truth is that these horses were destined not for a life out in the field, but to be shipped off to slaughter for human consumption.

Related: Bill to ban horse slaughter rejected

Belinda Lyall, founder of the B.C. Horse Angels, makes daily trips to what she calls her little piece of paradise in Salmon Arm to care for horses she has rescued from slaughter. Currently, she has over 30 horses in her care which she looks after while attempting to find them permanent homes.

Her first encounter with the industry she rallies against was at a horse auction in 1998, and she says this glimpse into the practice made her realize she didn’t know the true extent of the industry. In Canada, upwards of 60,000 horses a year are sent to slaughter, their meat being exported largely to Europe and Japan.

“I went to my first auction where I saw all these horses, they were loading them up in the double-decker trucks that would come and pick them up, it was just horrific,” she says. “I think that’s when I went from being really naive in general. If anyone had told me about this before, I would have thought it was all a conspiracy theory.”

Related: Horse saved from slaughter places fourth in competition

In the years to come, she worked to stop horses from selling to buyers who send them to the slaughterhouse. These people, known as kill-buyers, attend auctions to buy horses in bulk to be sold to the slaughterhouse for a profit, often unbeknownst to their original owners.

“I think owners take their horses to auction thinking that they are going to get bought and find a home. A lot of horse owners aren’t aware of this slaughter which is shocking to me,” she says.

In an effort to prevent this, Lyall began purchasing horses and caring for them while searching for permanent homes. With this idea she went on to start the B.C. Horse Angels, which was registered as a non-profit in 2017.

“There are probably about 100 horses a year being saved, some other people took them in and helped, but I was paying for it all, my bank account just went right down to nothing,” she says. “We’re slowly trying to build up to ideally 5,000 members across the province, we want to be able to take care of any horse in B.C. that needs to be taken care of.”

Aside from rescuing and re-homing these horses, one of her goals is to create awareness of an industry that operates largely out of the public eye, taking advantage of loose regulations in Canada to make a profit.

A loophole that Lyall says allows the Canadian horse slaughter industry to thrive is in the inspection process. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) requires food animals to be raised free of substances unsafe for humans. Many drugs given to horses would cause a red flag in an inspection, but the documentation in Canada allows for buyers to feign ignorance of unsafe substances they have been given.

Horses sold for meat in Canada must be registered with an Equine Information Document (EID), and the seller must disclose whether the animal has been administered medications while in their care. Because the kill-buyers act as a sort of middle-man, they can say these horses have not been given any unsafe substances while in their care. This allows them to pass a CFIA inspection because records of medication are lost in the paper shuffle between multiple buyers.

Lyall believes that a more robust documentation and inspection process of horses used for meat would essentially stonewall the industry in Canada.

“They claim that we’ve taken care of it because the owner says no drugs, and the kill buyer says ‘nope I don’t know about any drugs,’ and then they get slaughtered. So, it’s just a joke. If they had to actually provide long-term documentation that all these horses have had these drugs they could no longer legally do it,” she says.

For more information on the B.C. Horse Angels, you can visit their website, or their Facebook page.


 

@Jodi_Brak117
jodi.brak@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Some of the horses Belinda Lyall rescues come to her pregnant, meaning there is no shortage of little foals running around the rescue corral. In this picture, Lyall gives some loving rubs to a foal that is resting in the warm spring sun. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

While many of the horses taken in by the Horse Angels come to them wild, by the end of their training they are friendly, inquisitive animals that love human attention. Such is the case with Socks, one of over 30 horses up for adoption through the organization. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Just Posted

Guilty plea in Lower Mainland break-and-enter spree

Gordon Vincent Gladstone, 42, was charged with 12 counts relating to a dozen incidents in late 2018

VIDEO: Surrey RCMP supporters make noise during rally outside city hall

‘Keep the RCMP in Surrey’ leader Ivan Scott says municipal force ‘not a done deal’

International South Asian expo pitched for Surrey’s Bear Creek Park

Mayor Doug McCallum says the idea ‘shows a lot of promise’

Sikh millworker lodges human rights complaint against Interfor, again

Mander Sohal, fired from Delta’s Acorn Mill, alleges discrimination based on religion and disability

White Rock council declares disapproval of ride-hailing rules

City to submit resolution to UBCM, send letter to B.C. Passenger Transportation Board

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Vancouver police officer hit with bear spray mid-arrest

Officer had been trying to arrest a woman wanted province-wide

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

B.C. communities urged to improve access for disabled people

One in four B.C. residents has disability, most want to work

Most Read