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)

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 seek to end practice of horse slaughter

Non-profit organization in Salmon Arm finds new homes for rescued horses

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 unmistakable 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.

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.”

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.

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, or to contact the B.C. Horse Angels, visit their website at bchorseangels.com or find them on Facebook.


 

@Jodi_Brak117
jodi.brak@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Some of the horses Belinda Lyall rescues come to her pregnant, meaning there is no shortage of little foals in 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)

Some of the horses Belinda Lyall rescues come to her pregnant, meaning there is no shortage of little foals in 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)

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

The Canadian Mental Health Association Shuswap Revelstoke’s homeless outreach coordinator Carly Shipmaker and practicum student Sarena Bryden take a turn on Thursday, May 6 on the stationary bike. They were cycling under the blue sun canopy outside the CMHA thrift shop to promote Mental Health Week and to prepare for this year’s Ride Don’t Hide event in June. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Getting the wheels turning for Salmon Arm’s Ride Don’t Hide event

Canadian Mental Health Association awareness and fundraising campaign to run throughout June

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

Interior Health provided updated data breaking down the vaccine administration totals in communities throughout the region on Monday, May 3, 2021. (File photo)
Nearly 40% of Shuswap adults vaccinated

More than 12,000 people in the Salmon Arm health area received their first COVID-19 vaccine

Ian Syme gets ready to swing the bat during skills training and picture day for Salmon Arm Minor Baseball 6U players at the Hillcrest Elementary field on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Young Salmon Arm ballplayers in training

Salmon Arm Minor Baseball Association seeking sponsorships for batting cage

The monthly totals from Jan.1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 show COVID-19 cases for most Local Health Areas in the North Okanagan-Shuswap, other than Vernon’s with the largest population, staying well below 400. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
16 months in, COVID cases in North Okanagan-Shuswap areas stay under 1,000

Vernon, with the largest population, hovers under 900 cases since January 2020

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

The Primary Urgent Care Centre on Martin Street officially opened on March 31, 2021. (Brennan Phillips)
Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District reverses funding decision on care centre

Approval now granted to fund $1 million for Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Penticton

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin checking drivers on BC highways

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
New temporary outdoor shelter in Kelowna opens

The new area on Richter Street and Weddell Place replaces the Baillie Avenue site

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read