More than two dozen people gathered Saturday along the Old Caribou Highway near Giscome Road to protest the alleged mistreatment of horses.
Anywhere from about 70 to 80 horses graze in a nearby field across from the Prince George International Airport. Mary Ruff lives just across the road from the pasture where the horses are kept. To her knowledge, she says the horses have been in the area for the last year and were originally receiving a decent amount of feed when they first arrived.
Ruff said there was grass available for the horses to eat, but after the property was left vacant for a longer period, things started to change around this time last year. “They didn’t get any hay until January, there was local concerns voiced so for about two months there was sporadic hay being brought in and I could see them gather to eat from my property,” she said. “They’ve been out all summer and they’ve been drinking from what used to be an old lagoon, but having grazed this property for over a year now, there’s nothing left, if you walk out a ways you can see the grass is now chewed down to the stubble and with the winter coming their body condition will drop dramatically.”
Owner of the Prince George Equine and Animal Rescue, Nicola Redpath was among the protesters and said she has been receiving calls about the horses for the past year. Redpath said the last straw for her was when she saw a dead horse lying on the ground this week. “I would like to see all these horses go to better homes and we’d like to get the message across to Mr. Jackson that if you can’t afford to feed these horses, you shouldn’t be dispersing them.”
Breeder of the horses, Howard Jackson confirmed to CKPG News Friday that one horse had died. Protesters on scene Saturday say they invited Jackson to the rally, but no response was received. Many also claim to have reached out to the SPCA.
The BC SPCA is aware of the situation and will not comment at this time, except to say the horse are part of an open and active investigation. Jackson admitted he speaks regularly with SPCA officials and says they visit the horses often. Jackson added that he had nothing to hide and welcomes concerned residents to bring their concerns directly to him.