Horses seized in the RM of Lakeview


By: Kate Jackman-Atkinson

On Jan. 18, the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) said that it had seized 10 horses due to “identified concerns over the health, care and well-being of the animals”.

The animals were seized under the animal care act in the RM of Lakeview on Jan. 14. Diane Coble-Kendall, a Communications officer with the province, wouldn’t elaborate on the reason for the seizure saying only, “There was concern about their overall well-being.”

At the time they were seized, RM of Lakeview councilor Richard Callander said that the municipality was in the process of passing a resolution to have the horses seized. He said he, along with girlfriend Kim Hiebert, had volunteered their time to round up and care for the horses until they could be placed in new homes.

Callander said that the horses belonged to an older couple who had moved to Portage and said that they had left their horses on their daughter’s land and in her care.

On Jan. 8, the horses were rounded up and removed from the land where they had been living. The CVO said that they had a legal order to round up and seize the horses and that the person who rounded them up did it for them under contract. The person has rounded up animals for the CVO in the past as well as acting as a caregiver for the CVO.

Coble-Kendall said that the round up was “done appropriately”, but said that no RCMP officers were present and she didn’t know who, or if, someone from the office of the CVO was there, saying that she didn’t have a list of everybody present at the round up.

Callander said that an eye witness told him that during the round up, the horses were chased by two snowmobiles and a truck for three miles. Calendar said that the snowmobile tracks he saw after the round up indicated that the horses had been chased quite a bit. About two miles from the corral, Callander said that the witness told him he saw a colt being bumped by the truck to keep it going as it was too tired and falling behind the rest of the herd. 

Callander said that he has been told that the colt has since died. The CVO said that neither the rough handling of the colt, nor its death, have been confirmed by them through first hand accounts. Coble-Kendall said that this was done “allegedly”noting that she hasn’t heard from anyone who had witnesses this directly. Attempts by The Banner to contact the witness were unsuccessful.

On Wednesday, Jan. 9, Hiebert saw the tracks from the horses and snowmobiles and on Friday, Jan. 11, Callander saw them and they found that the horses were missing and called the RCMP to investigate the theft of the horses. The horses were found in the corrals of the person who rounded them up, where they remain. The police closed their investigation with Cpl. Jodi Verspeek of the Amaranth RCMP saying, “It was confirmed there was no theft.”

As of Jan. 14, the horses remain with the person who rounded them up but now under the care of the CVO, under whose care they will remain until the appeals process is complete.

As for the delay between the round up and the Jan. 14 seizure date, Coble-Kendall would only say that there were other issues with which the office was dealing.

There continues to be some question as to how many horses there were and whether any are missing. The CVO has said that they have inspected the property in the past and have never seen more than those presently in their care, however, Hiebert and Callander say they have seen at least 16 horses in the herd.

Under the Animal Care Act, the owners of the seized horses had seven days (until Monday, Jan. 21) to file a notice of objection to the seizure.  This means that the horses cannot be sold or given away until any appeal is decided and remain under the care of the CVO. An appeal was filed on Jan. 21.

While the case makes its way through the appeals process, the horses remain under the care of the CVO. If the appeal is successful, the horses will be returned to their owner and if it’s unsuccessful, the CVO will try to rehome the horses.

Anyone who suspects any animal is lacking adequate food, water, shelter or medical attention, is encouraged to contact the CVO’s Animal Care Line at 1-204-945-8000.  All calls will be kept confidential and all calls will be investigated.