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Sunday, Feb 24, 2008
» Axel Hinz-Schleuter
» Dale Huber
Case Updates: 1 update(s) available
Alberta SPCA are investigating a horrific case of animal neglect involving the starvation deaths of 27 horses from an Edmonton-area ranch and the rescue of 100 others.
Director of animal-protection services Morris Airey confirmed the seizure of the remaining horses from the ranch outside the village of Andrew, 104 km northeast of Edmonton, on Feb. 26.
"Certainly in terms of the numbers involved, it's one of the larger seizures," he said.
But Airey said because the investigation may last for another three weeks, the SPCA won't identify the owner and will only place the ranch as lying outside of Andrew.
Another local breeder, however, who asked not to be named, has identified the rancher as Axel Hinz-Schleuter. And the truckers who rounded up and transported the remaining horses to nearby Clyde for auction Thursday, have confirmed the property belongs to Hinz-Schleuter Arabians.
Repeated calls to the ranch were not answered.
Airey said it was a Feb. 24 complaint that alerted the SPCA to conditions on the ranch – including dying and dead horses as well as dead rabbits, goats and sheep.
Airey said a total of 27 horses died on ranch property and that, of the 100 seized animals, another three have since perished.
The animal-protection director said the ranch owner is aware of the seizure and the investigation. And he said that, if charges and a conviction follow, the owner could face a maximum fine of $20,000 and an unlimited ban on owning horses.
But Airey also noted the owner would receive any proceeds of the sale of the horses this week once expenses of the seizure are covered.
"If anybody wanted to give them proper care, they may recover," Airey said of the remaining horses.
Notice of the seizure and the auction has attracted the attention on the international horse-owners community.
"It's a two-fold thing," explained Ohio-based trainer Patricia Harper, 41. "Yes, the quality of the horses and a more-reasonable price – but, more so, they're in need on top of it."
Like other trainers and breeders, Harper is anxious to rescue the surviving horses. And she said she's particularly motivated because she already owns a "magnificent," award-winning Polish-Arabian gelding bred by Hinz-Schleuter and recognizes the talent he evidently once had.
"I'm very sad for the situation, and I feel something very bad must have happened – because he loved his horses dearly," she said. "It's just too bad he didn't ask for help."
Reports on the condition of the horses on auction vary. Some say more may yet die as result of their ordeal and that others could sell for as little as $2,000.
But, in any case, Harper said she feels Hinz-Schleuter should not receive any proceeds from the sale – and that U.S. laws would prevent such a possibility there.
The Alberta horse community, meanwhile, appears to have had some inkling of the problems on the Hinz-Schleuter ranch, which included a $1,000 fine for underfeeding levied by the SPCA in 2005.
But asked how the situation could reoccur, and to such a tragic degree, Airey said he could only comment once the SPCA identifies the accused and if charges are laid.
|Two Alberta men were ordered in provincial court Wednesday to pay hefty fines for allowing 27 horses to starve to death.|
Axel Hinz-Schleuter, who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges last fall, must pay $12,000 and is banned from owning horses for life.
Dale Huber, who also pleaded guilty, was fined $6,000 and cannot own horses for 10 years.
The $12,000 is believed to be the highest amount ever ordered for an offence under the province's Animal Protection Act.
In addition, both men were ordered to pay $2,000 restitution to the Alberta SPCA.
``The amount of the fine demonstrates that society is taking animal abuse more seriously,'' Morris Airey, director of animal protection services for the Alberta SPCA, said in a release.
``Hopefully these higher fines will act as a deterrent so more animals don't suffer like this.''
Alberta SPCA officers seized 100 horses, 40 rabbits, 13 chickens, seven sheep and five goats from a farm east of Edmonton last February.
|Source: The Sault Star - Dec 18, 2008|
Update posted on Dec 19, 2008 - 9:41AM