Kathy O’Reilly says she still feels numb after learning from RCMP Monday that her two beloved horses, reported missing over the weekend, were stolen, shipped to a nearby slaughterhouse and destroyed.
O’Reilly, a former Medicine Hat resident who now lives on Vancouver Island, was contacted around mid-April and informed she would have to move her Arabian-bred horses, Cocao and Bella, to a new facility.
But when her daughter got to the property in Stirling on Saturday, about 250 km southeast of Calgary, to pick up the horses and move them to a new facility near Waterton Lakes, she was told they had been taken to the Picture Butte auction market. After further inquiries, O’Reilly said she found out her two horses had actually been taken to a slaughterhouse in Fort Macleod.
Spending the weekend holding out hope that Cocao and Bella would be rescued, she learned the devastating news Monday morning after she was contacted by Mounties.
“Everything is just a blur,” O’Reilly said.
“I’m in denial, I’m heartbroken, I’m angry and I’m sad.”
Raymond RCMP confirmed Monday that the horses appear to have been stolen and taken to a slaughterhouse in Fort Macleod. Mounties expect to release more information about the crime in the coming days, declining to give further details.
O’Reilly had owned Cocao, a pure-bred black Arabian gelding, for 23 years, and was there to catch him when he was born despite battling pneumonia. Bella, whose full name is Cinderella, was a black half-Ariabian O’Reilly had received as a gift nearly 20 years ago.
The former Alberta newspaper publisher said whoever took her horses allegedly produced forged documents at the slaughterhouse, and that was enough to take what she considers to be two members of her family away forever.
“It’s definitely like losing family,” O’Reilly said.
“I really don’t know how this can happen. I’m just horrified, and the fact that you can show up at a slaughterhouse without proving any ownership of what you’re dropping off … I can’t believe it.”
A request for comment from Bouvry Exports Calgary Ltd. in Fort Macleod was not immediately returned Monday.
O’Reilly, still struggling with the fact that her horses are gone, said she hopes sharing her story will raise awareness among other horse owners in rural Alberta.
“At this point I’m just hoping to raise awareness and trying to prevent someone else from going through this, because it’s awful,” she said.
Source: Calgary Sun