The number and severity of livestock cruelty cases are much higher this winter compared to last year, according to the Saskatchewan SPCA.
There has been roughly a 76 percent increase in cases involving horses and an approximate 89 percent increase in cattle case files this winter — December 2012 to February 2013 —compared with the previous winter.
Of particular concern is the severity of livestock cases. In the winter of 2012-13, the Saskatchewan SPCA had a total of 11 Priority 1 files involving cattle and horses. In contrast, there were a total of two Priority 1 files for cattle and horses in the previous winter.
A Priority 1 case is one requiring immediate action by the Saskatchewan SPCA. These are cases involving dead or dying animals, animals without water, starving animals or other situations where the life of the animal is at immediate risk.
This winter has been particularly challenging, with many areas of the province experiencing heavy snowfall and extended periods of extreme cold. The current high cost of feed is creating additional pressure for owners.
The SPCA said changes in feed and/or management may be required to protect animals from distress. According to The Animal Protection Act, an animal is in distress if it is deprived of adequate food, water, care or shelter, is injured, sick, in pain or suffering or is abused or neglected.
The Saskatchewan SPCA can be contacted for animals that may be suffering due to a lack of food, shelter, water or care at 877-382-7722. All calls are confidential.