VIDEO: Salmon Arm horse rescue operator says BC SPCA investigation prompted by harasser

Belinda Lyall said baseless complaints prompted BC SPCA investigators to rescue her Salmon Arm horse.

On the morning of Thursday, April 13, several BC SPCA vehicles arrived at the 20th Avenue SE property where Lyle operates BC Horse Angels, a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect horses from slaughter and/or neglect.

SPCA investigators came to the property with a search warrant to check reports of animal distress, Lyall said.

“It started last week; the BC SPCA showed up and they put a sign on the gate saying there was a horse in distress,” Lyall said. “I asked why and they said someone had called and said the horses had lost weight.

“I said, well, let’s go and see, there are no skinny horses here. He said he didn’t have time, and then he said he didn’t know enough about horses, so he didn’t come in, and they went away. So I called them and said This is clearly a bad faith complaint, no skinny horses. Well said, we have to do our jobs well…”

BC SPCA Senior Conservation Officer Eileen Drever confirmed a public concern has been received.

“We attended the meeting and were told to come back with a search warrant. We went back in there today,” said Drever, who could not give specifics because the investigation is still ongoing.

“Normally, if we get a concern, we attend, and if there’s a concern about the animal’s condition, we give the owner or caretaker a chance to correct the problem,” Drever said. “We didn’t get that last week, we Was told to come back with a warrant. So today we’re checking, I think, all the horses, and then if there’s anything wrong, we usually send out a notice to correct the problem, and then we give people some time to do that.”

Lyall explained that she was frustrated with the BC SPCA visit because of the constant harassment by individuals who did not support the BC Horse Angels mission.

“Over the years, I’ve been harassed by this stuff, by false complaints, on and on,” Lyall said. “These people are even writing to my donors like the donor Jann Arden and the Canadian Horse Defense League. They are sending untraceable encrypted emails where they claim horses are dying and they claim that if they give me money they will Just funding a dead horse.”

Lyle said her harassers claimed several horses in her care died last year. In December 2022, Lyle publicly explained how three horses died from being transported with poisoned hay.

“In 20 years of saving hundreds of horses, I’ve lost a total of four,” Lyle said.

As of April 13, Lyle had 57 horses.

Angela Den Otter lives in a house next to the fields where Lyall grazes her rescued horses. Den Otter said she told police and the SPCA that if Lyall didn’t take good care of her horse, no one would.

“She was very dedicated,” Den Otter said. “A horse that looks a bit skinny has 38 which is unheard of for a horse. She makes it into a hot paste and brings it from her house every day to feed them. She takes great care of the horses .

“I think there are some very restless people out there who just like to trouble people. Some people report that if you look at the horses, they’re probably plump rather than lean.”

During the investigation, Lyall said she tried to make sure the horses had enough water, but BC SPCA investigators told her she was obstructing the investigation and they would call the RCMP. Shortly after, two RCMP patrol cars arrived and two officers spoke to Lyle.

Dismayed by the experience, Lyall insists that the horses in her care are not in any pain.

“They were all spared the massacre, and most of them were in a horrific state…” Lyle said. “They’re all very healthy, they’re happy, you won’t find happier horses anywhere.”

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BSPCA Horse Salmon Arm

On Thursday, April 13, 2023, two members of the BC SPCA Cruelty Investigations Division stand by as other investigators observe animals in the care of Belinda Lyall and BC Horse Angels at the Salmon Arm. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

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