The horses of Breighmara Equestrian Centre, formerly an equine rescue affiliated with the SPCA, are in immediate danger. They are starving and many are dehyrated. In the last year, eight (8) have died, four (4) of them in the last four weeks alone, two (2) within 48 hours of each other.
The stories coming out of Breighmara from boarders, lesson members, and concerned horse lovers all tell of starvation, horses being fed moldy hay, horses desperately dragging their handlers to water, and developing rain rot (a coat and skin wasting condition) from being left outside with little to no access to shelter. These horses are ridden and worked just as hard as healthy, fit horses are and some are competed provincially, including at the Maritime Fall Fair. There are horses of all ages at this barn, including a young foal. Horses have been shot and their bodies burned on this property.
Why is this happening? Because Nova Scotia says it's acceptable. Horses are listed as "livestock" under current legislation. There is no formal protection for livestock in NS. There are guidelines and bare minimums that are suggested, but there are no laws protecting them from cruelty. In fact, the SPCA no longer investigates equine abuse or neglect complaints.
The closest thing to protection these horses have is the Code from the National Farm Council of Canada. This form, linked below, contains guidelines and rules for the treatment and handling of horses. These guidelines, however, are not laws and Breighmara's blatant violations of them are not resulting in any charges or removal of the animals from the property.
Per the NS Animal Welfare Act, Breighmara is also in violation:PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
21 (1) No person shall cause an animal to be in distress.
(2) No owner of an animal or person in charge of an animal shall permit the animal to be in distress.
(3) For the purpose of subsection (2), the owner of an animal or the person in charge of an animal does not permit the animal to be in distress if the owner or person in charge takes immediate appropriate steps to relieve the distress.
(4) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply if the distress, pain, suffering or injury results from an activity carried on in the practise of veterinary medicine, or in accordance with reasonable and generally accepted practices of animal management, husbandry or slaughter or an activity exempted by the regulations.
(5) Subsection (3) does not apply if the owner of an animal or the person in charge of an animal has demonstrated a pattern of causing or permitting any animal to be in distress.
This needs to change. What happens if these rules aren't enforced? Nothing. This needs to change. What happens if horses are being starved, neglected, and abused? Nothing. This needs to change. The voices who've signed this petition are speaking for those who can't, for those who's deaths and ravaged bodies speak volumes, yet have been ignored. Humans have domesticated and taken responsibility for these animals. We can't leave them in a wooden box with no food or water. Horses in Nova Scotia need protection, they need legislation, they need laws.
Ariel Mactavish started this petition with a single signature, and now has 11,949 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.