Horse owner charged with animal cruelty

An Alberta man prohibited from owning horses for five years has been charged with causing injury to animals after three horses were found dead and 82 others in distress.

Gary Sparshu of Fort McMurray has been charged with one count of cruelty to animals, two counts of causing an animal to be in distress and two counts of failing to provide proper care to an animal.

On Feb. 3, RCMP’s Livestock’s Investigations Unit found three dead horses at a property near Wandering River, along with 52 horses in poor condition. During the search of the property, along with the Alberta SPCA, RCMP found two horses and two donkeys in a corral with no adequate food and a frozen water bowl.

“They were nibbling on the fence rails,” said cpl. Hal Turnbull of the RCMP.

Investigators found 20 more horses in distress at a second property.

Two days later, police returned to the properties with a search warrant. A veterinarian determined that all the horses were in a distressed condition.

The Alberta SPCA seized 84 horses for examination and treatment.

Sparshu is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Boyle on Feb. 23.

He remains in custody, said Turnbull.

In 2014, he was fined $3,500 for causing an animal to be in distress and was prohibited for “five years from owning or having more than 60 horses in his control, from June 25, 2014 to June 25, 2019

In 1996, a provincial court judge found Sparshu guilty after 24 head of cattle, near Bergen, were in poor condition. He was fined $5,000 for causing an animal to be in distress.

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