“AT THIS POINT, EVERYONE’S THINKING WITH THEIR HEARTS”
ARMSTRONG - We’ve seen a lot of generosity and kindness in the weeks following an animal cruelty case, but the SPCA is cautioning people not to let good intentions cloud their judgement.
Armstrong man Gary Roberts faces two charges of animal cruelty, and has been court ordered to sell all 100 of his remaining horses. A dispersal sale is set for Feb. 7 at Valley Auction in Armstrong, but before people jump in to rescue a horse, senior animal protection officer Kathy Woodward wants prospective buyers to know what they're getting into.
“Horses are a very expensive hobby,” Woodward says. “One vet bill could cost you $500. Just the feed over the winter is a huge expense.”
Sixteen of the horses in the worst shape were seized from Roberts’ property and brought into the care of the SPCA. They required extensive vet attention, blood work, nutritional supplements, and farrier work, among other costs. In just a week, thousands of dollars were spent providing for the animals. Even with such intensive care, three foals died.
“We just want to ensure people are sure of their resources, their expertise, and their time. These animals are going to require a lot of work going forward,” Woodward says.
Horse ownership is not something to rush into, she says. It’s a lot of work, and it can easily get out of hand, just like it did for Roberts.
"People think 'okay, I’ll take one more to rescue it',” Woodward says. “Then you get into a situation like we deal with every day where people take on more than they have the resources for and pretty soon we’re investigating them.”
The now 13 horses being cared for in SPCA foster homes will eventually be available for adoption. Woodward says individuals wanting to adopt them will go through a strict screening process ensuring they weren’t previously charged or investigated for animal cruelty, and that they have adequate resources to take on the animals. That kind of screening doesn’t happen at an auction.
“What happens is people go into the auction setting and it’s just electrical in there. Everybody’s pumped up,” Woodward says.
“At this point, everyone’s thinking with their hearts.”
Anyone wishing to inquire about adopting a horse, or interested in making a donation, can contact their local SPCA branch. You can reach the Vernon branch at 250-549-7297.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.