Snowbound horses rescued from B.C. mountainside
Two starving horses that had been trapped on the side of a B.C. mountain are now safe and recovering at a farm near the province's border with Alberta.
Snowmobilers first discovered the horses on the side of Mount Renshaw, near McBride, B.C., one week ago. But they couldn't bring the animals off the mountain because of deep snow.
"A decision had to be made whether the horses should be put down or if it was possible to get them out. Were they well enough? My brother made the decision that he was going to get them out," Gordon Jeck told CTV.ca on Wednesday from his B.C. farm.
For the past week, Jeck, his family, and other volunteers have been digging a kilometre-long trench to the nearest trail to get the animals out.
Late Tuesday night, the horses finally made it out of their snow-bound prison and were put on a trailer and taken to a farm.
Gordon Jeck's nephew, Logan, and a friend first discovered the horses and initially thought the most humane thing to do was to shoot the starving horses.
Instead, Logan returned with his sister, Toni, who said the horses were fighters because of what they endured.
The next day, Gordon's brother Dave returned to the mountain with a shovel and began digging. As word of the trapped horses spread, volunteers began showing up to help shovel.
Jeck says he doesn't understand how anyone could leave them behind.
"That's a bit of mystery," Jeck said.
"There were apparently three of them. One of them was never found ... They were doing just fine until the heavy snow hit. There was grass up there. But then the snow came and they couldn't get anything to eat."
The horses have frostbite, are missing hair because of rain scald, and are severely underweight.
"They look rough. They've been standing around that snow for a couple of weeks. Obviously they had enough heart that we thought we could bring them out," Jeck said.
CTV finds horses' owner
CTV News spoke to the horses' owner who requested his name not be used. He said he and the horses were delivering supplies to hikers on the mountain in September when he became separated from the animals.
The owner says he went back to the mountain three times to find the horses. The first two times he got stuck in the snow and even rolled his truck and trailer and the third time he was able to locate the animals, but couldn't get them out of the snow.
"It was sort of a hopeless situation, we couldn't even see the bottom of the mountain, we didn't know which way out was out," said the owner.
The owner is expecting to bring Sundance and Belle back to this Edmonton home, but the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has seized the animals while they conduct their investigation.
They are investigating to determine whether the owner took the necessary precautions to ensure the horses wouldn't suffer.
"Once our investigation is completed, if the elements of an offence have been met, which by all accounts at this point looks like it has been, charges would be forwarded to Crown," chief animal protection officer Shawn Eccles told CP.
With files from The Canadian Press