Prospective home buyers report livestock neglect

August 4, 2011, Medicine Hat

The Alberta SPCA received a call from prospective home buyers who were shocked by the condition of horses at a farm they visited just west of Suffield. When Peace Officer Rick Wheatley attended the property on October 5, 2009, he found the animals in deplorable conditions.

The horses were very lethargic. Many were malnourished, with their hips, backbones and ribs showing prominently. The perimeter of the property was completely void of grass for approximately one metre outside the fence, where the horses had managed to stretch as far as possible for feed. The enclosure fences were falling down—the wooden posts holding the barb wire had been chewed down to thin sticks—and posts, rails and barb wire were strewn about the paddock.

On October 13, 2009, Peace Officer Wheatley returned to the farm and saw that nothing had been done to improve the conditions of the horses, as ordered. He obtained a search warrant and returned with a veterinarian on October 16. The veterinarian advised that without intervention by the Alberta SPCA, 20 per cent of the animals would likely succumb to starvation over the winter. All 20 horses were removed from the property.

Two goats were found in a small shed on the property. They were living on top of more than a metre of piled manure, which prevented them from moving freely. Neither could walk properly. One was crippled to the point that it had to crawl on its knees. The veterinarian said nothing could be done for them and euthanized both goats at the time of seizure.

The owners of the property, Ted Bass and Doug Renschler, pleaded guilty in Medicine Hat Provincial Court on August 4, 2011, to the charges under the Animal Protection Act. They were fined and given a 10-year prohibition from owning livestock. Any household pets they have must undergo yearly health checks. The veterinary reports from those examinations must be submitted to the Alberta SPCA.