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

Port Alberni RCMP honour fallen officers from New Brunswick

Moment of silence, prayers held for Fredericton officers killed last week

Trio of Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock events planned for Port Alberni

Cancer Society volunteers work behind the scenes to fundraise for tour

Man rescued from cliff on Harbour Road in Port Alberni

Fire department uses new equipment in rope rescue

Alberni Valley firefighters head to Fort St. James to assist with B.C. wildfires

‘We need to make sure first and foremost our community is protected’: Gilday

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Authorities mull evacuation order for Zeballos

Smoke billowed from the steep hillsides of Zeballos on Friday evening, as… Continue reading

Safeway union urges prejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

Most Read