Happy ending for malnourished horse seized from North Okanagan farm | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Happy ending for malnourished horse seized from North Okanagan farm

Senko has a news lease on life with his new owners.
September 12, 2019 - 11:54 AM

Senko, the youngest in a group of 42 neglected horses seized from an Irish Creek Road property in the North Okanagan last March, is well on his way to a better life.

Horse trainer and large animal technician at Mills Veterinary Service, Kristi Kalke, first met Senko when he was just six-months-old, very scared and appeared to be completely feral.

She was part of a team working with head veterinarian Dr. Britt Mills to examine and provide medical care for all of these horses. At that time, Senko was known simply as colt number 25. He was malnourished, with a body condition score of two out of nine with five being ideal. Senko also had intestinal parasites and suffered numerous bouts of colic.

This little colt had been dewormed, vaccinated and was eating well. However, due to his poor body condition and being smaller and younger than the yearlings headed to a foster home in Merritt, Kalke and Mills had concerns about his recovery and felt that he needed specialized care.

“He was looking very weak and with no other places lined up, Dr. Mills suggested I take him,”  Kalke says, in a B.C. SPCA press release issued today, Sept. 12.

Senko settled into his new foster home well and began to bond with Kalke’s mare, Lass. That first weekend was difficult.

“He was shaky, sweaty and had a pretty bad tummy ache with bot larvae the size of my thumb coming out of him,” Kalke says. 

Kalke and her parents took turns checking in on Senko every half hour including overnight. She discovered the little colt was covered in ticks, which would have contributed to his weakened state.

“During that time, I was able to pet his neck and gain a lot of trust,” Kalke says.

“Part of our trust sessions involved me slowly feeling for and carefully removing ticks while he munched on his mashes."

With daily doses of omeprazole liquid to soothe Senko’s stomach and a basic diet, soaked mashes of hay and alfalfa cubes, Senko was out of distress by Monday.

“By Tuesday, I was able to hold his lead rope and pet him without having him trying to run scared. He really wanted to trust me. I was astounded that as starved, wild, scared and sick as he was – he still wanted to bond with me.” Kalke says.

Senko continued to recover and gain weight on a new diet prescribed by Dr. Mills but Kalke was worried that Senko’s original owner might regain custody

In this particular case, the BC Farm Industry Review Board awarded custody of the horses to the B.C. SPCA and Kalke jumped at the chance to adopt Senko.

“He had stolen all of our hearts, and mine was irreversibly a part of his,” Kalke says. She named him Senko, a Japanese word meaning red, for the colour of his coat and he officially became her horse on June 1.

Carla Christman and her daughter Chelsea Beluse-Christman were charged with causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, failing to provide the necessaries for an animal, as well as other charges following the March 25 raid on the Irish Creek Property northwest of Vernon.

Colt 25 no longer, Senko has a name and a home.
Colt 25 no longer, Senko has a name and a home.

Christman appealed to the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board arguing the animals should never have been seized from her property but lost after a two-day tribunal May 29.

Christman was back again in court June 7 arguing the B.C. SPCA costs for boarding her seized horses were too high and requested the animals be returned to her property or put in cheaper boarding. The judge dismissed Christman's request to have the horses returned, but did grant an injunction putting a hold on the B.C. SPCA from adopting the horses out.

The SPCA says the horses are now legally in their care and they would "like to ensure their treatment is completed as soon as possible so that we can find them all loving homes."

The Farm Industry Review Board May 29 decision stated Christman was liable for over $64,000 in related costs.

The SPCA did not pursue Christman in 2009 when costs ran to over $158,000 after they seized 28 horses, 36 dogs, four cats and a pig from her property.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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