The death of Kathy O’Reilly-Taylor’s neighbour was just the beginning of the heartache.

The neighbour had been a helpful friend over the past four years by allowing O’Reilly-Taylor to board her two beloved horses, Cocoa and Bella, on her acreage in southern Alberta. But when the woman died and the bank moved to foreclose on her property, O’Reilly-Taylor had no idea that the fate of her beloved horses, which she’d owned for over 20 years, had already been sealed.

She says she was told she had until the end of April to move the animals, but when her daughter showed up to move them on Saturday, Apr. 28, she was met with a nasty surprise.

“They weren’t there,” O’Reilly-Taylor told CTV Lethbridge.

She soon learned that not only had the horses been sold, they’d also been slaughtered.

O’Reilly-Taylor says Cocoa and Bella were shipped off to the Bouvry Exports meat-packing plant in Fort Macleod, Alta., where they were slaughtered on the day they arrived.

O’Reilly-Taylor reported the incident to local RCMP, who say they are now looking into the matter.

An individual in Bouvry Exports’ Fort Macleod office confirmed to CTV Lethbridge that RCMP are investigating, and added that there is no fault on the part of the company.

O’Reilly-Taylor says the two horses have been an integral part of her life, and she was crushed to learn of their unexpected demise.

“They were family,” she said. “My kids grew up with them.”

O’Reilly-Taylor turned to Facebook on Saturday after discovering the horses were gone, in hopes that someone might have seen the missing animals. She announced the animals’ deaths in an update to the post.

“I am heartsick to let you know RCMP have confirmed my two horses were slaughtered the day they were brought in to Fort Macleod,” she wrote.

Now she’s calling for answers from Bouvry Exports, whom she says didn’t take steps to verify that it had permission to slaughter the animals.

“Why is there not a hold on horses that are brought there in case they are stolen?” she said. She also wants to know why the plant does not require proof of ownership before accepting an animal for slaughter.

Nevertheless, she knows those answers won’t change what happened.

“At the end of the day, nothing is going to be able to bring them back,” she said.

With files from CTV Lethbridge’s Terry Vogt