News Release

April 9, 2013

Alberta SPCA responds to concerns about horse auction

On 3 April 2013, the Alberta SPCA sold 25 horses through a public auction in High River, Alberta. The animals were from a large herd that the Alberta SPCA had found in severe distress and seized from a southern Alberta property in February. One of the buyers who was interviewed at the auction by Global News Calgary said he might sell some of the horses he had bought for meat. The Alberta SPCA would like to respond to the concerns raised by some people about this possibility.

In all its enforcement activities, the Alberta SPCA takes actions that are in the best interests of animal welfare within the legal framework of Alberta’s Animal Protection Act.

These horses’ situation was created by their former owner. The Alberta SPCA was involved under its authority as an animal welfare enforcement agency. When the Alberta SPCA seizes animals, it is because they are in distress and their owner is unwilling or unable to provide for their proper care. While in the Alberta SPCA’s custody, the horses received the food, water, shelter and veterinary attention they required.

The former owner did not attempt to reclaim the horses, so it then fell to the Alberta SPCA to find new owners for them. A public auction is the most open and transparent way to transfer the ownership of livestock.

We understand that a large number of Albertans view horses as companion animals, and we are sympathetic to that view. But legally in this province horses are livestock, and they are regularly bought and sold at auction, whether for use in recreation, sport, entertainment or the meat industry.

The Alberta SPCA publicized the date of the auction in advance so that anyone interested in purchasing the horses could attend. The Calgary Herald and a few community newspapers in southern Alberta published stories about the horses and the upcoming auction.

The Alberta SPCA will not make any money from the sale of these horses. The proceeds go first to cover the cost of the sale and second to pay for the transportation, feed, boarding and veterinary care of the horses.

In the event that any proceeds remained after covering those expenses, they would be owed to the former owner. As part of its legal duties in this matter, the Alberta SPCA will provide the former owner with a statement of the expenses relating to the horses’ care and the sale proceeds. The expenses are set by a schedule of tariffs in the Animal Protection Regulation. The proceeds were set by the market. Because the sale was at a public auction, they are part of the public record.

The actions of the Alberta SPCA have improved the welfare of these horses. Their new owners, whatever their reasons for buying the horses, are required to protect them from distress and see to their needs for food, water, shelter and veterinary care.

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For further information, please contact

Roland Lines
Communications Manager, Alberta SPCA
10806 - 124 Street NW
Edmonton, AB  T5M 0H3
Tel: 780-447-3600 ext. 3742