UPDATE (DEC 4, 2018):
OSPCA agent Rachel Vandenkroonenberg made a video statement, posted on the OSPCA’s Facebook page on December 3, 2018.
“We’d like to thank you for expressing your support for the horses involved in the investigation in Norfolk County. We want to reassure you that we are actively working with the Norfolk OPP on this situation and have been for some time now.”
She noted that there has been a lot of speculation over what is being done, or not done, to help the horses on a Waterford, Ontario farm. She continued:
“What is posted on social media does not share the whole story. We’d like to provide you with both clarification on the scope of our authority and our involvement in the last year.
“The Ontario SPCA has attended the property and followed up accordingly to each concern brought forward over the last year. When we follow up, we make sure that the animals are receiving food, water, have appropriate shelter, and if there are any health concerns, that those concerns are being addressed. We do not close an investigation until we know the standards of care are being met.
“In November 2018, our officer attended the farm after concerns were brought forward regarding the standards of care not being met for one of the animals on the property. Our officer noted one horse in particular that was ill as the result of a pre-existing medical condition, and was under the care of a veterinarian. To be clear, the condition of the horse was the result of an illness and the horse was under veterinary care. When a veterinarian is involved, we do not have the authority to intervene and must defer to the veterinary medical professionals.
“With the winter months approaching, a discussion was had regarding the most humane option for the ill horse. On December 1, 2018, the owner had the horse humanely euthanized by a veterinarian.
“When our officers attended the property in November, they also noted that another one of the horses was in poor body condition. We have been working with the owner to address these concerns and are continuing to ensure the standards of care are being met.
“Under the law, the Ontario SPCA can only remove an animal if it is in immediate distress, as defined by provincial animal welfare legislation, ordered under the certificate of a veterinarian, or if the owner has not complied with orders issued under provincial animal welfare legislation.
“In this situation, neither the Ontario SPCA, nor the Norfolk OPP have the authority to remove these animals. We will continue to monitor the condition of the animals, working with the owners and their veterinarian to ensure their health and wellbeing. Thank you again for your concern for the animals. As we move forward we will continue to provide updates regarding this case.”
ORIGINAL POST (DEC 3, 2018)
The Ontario Provincial Police and Ontario SPCA have opened an investigation into the condition of horses on a Waterford, Ontario farm.
Last Friday, photos of the three emaciated horses began to circulate on social media. The initial Facebook post, made by Natalie Tupper, a local horse owner, has been shared more than 8,000 times. In it, Tupper states that she has been making calls to the OPP and OSPCA about the deteriorating condition of the horses over the past six months. At her wits’ end, she says, she decided to bring the issue to social media.
The OPP attended the property on Saturday, where a group of concerned horse lovers were holding a protest. It is reported that one of the horses was euthanized by a veterinarian that day. The other two horses remain in the care of the owners. Speaking to CTV Kitchener, Constable Ed Sanchuk of Norfolk County OPP, said the homeowner advised the police that the horse who was put down had been ill for a long period, and was going to be euthanized the following week.
No charges have been laid at this time.
The OSPCA, which recently announced its intention to stop investigating horse and livestock cases, issued a statement on Saturday:
“The Ontario SPCA has an open investigation at this location alongside Norfolk County OPP. Ongoing action is being taken to help these animals. The Society would like to reassure the public that we have been out to visit the animals several times and have addressed any concerns reported.
“We recognize the pictures shared on social media of the horses are concerning. The horses involved are sick and have been under ongoing veterinary care. Whenever we have visited the property to address concerns brought forward, the owners have always worked well with us to ensure the animals are getting the care they require. The horses have always had food, water and shelter available to them when we have visited the property.
“Police have attended today and we are working together, with the owners and a veterinarian, to ensure the animals on the property continue to receive the necessary care. These animals are being treated and are receiving care.
“We want to remind the public that images on social media do not share the full story. When an animal is undergoing veterinary treatment, providing alternate food could cause further harm to the animal. If you have a concern for an animal, please report it to the Ontario SPCA or your local police and allow us to follow up accordingly as we will continue to do.
“We thank everyone for their concern for these animals and we will provide regular updates as to their ongoing care.”