Man who sparked 12-day horse rescue admits charge

December 9, 2009

A man who abandoned two horses in chest-deep snow, sparking a rescue effort which won a Canadian town a heroisim award, has been fined for his actions.

Frank McKay, 64, a lawyer from Alberta, appeared in Prince George provincial court last Friday, where he pleaded guilty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to causing or permitting an animal to be in distress.

McKay's horses, a three-year-old mare named Belle and a 14-year-old gelding named Sundance, were discovered by snowmobilers last December on Mount Renshaw, in British Columbia.


Belle and Sundance when they were found in September.


It took a group of volunteers 12 days to dig a trench to get the horses to safety.

Volunteers from nearby McBride, a small town in Robson Valley with fewer than 1000 people, toiled for 12 straight days shoveling a one-kilometre trench through heavy snow to pave a path to safety for the horses.

Temperatures fell as low as -30deg Celsius during the rescue effort.

Thin, suffering from rain scald and other medical issues, the animals were finally rescued on December 23, 2008, and have since been adopted to homes in Prince George and Kamloops.

The tiny Robson Valley town was later awarded the British Columbia SPCA's Kevin Anderson Award of Heroism for the epic rescue.

McKay was ordered by the court to pay the British Columbia SPCA $C5910.16 in restitution.

In addition, he was also handed a $C1000--fine and a $C150 victim surcharge, banned from owning animals in British Columbia for two years and ordered to undergo counselling.

McKay has also been placed on probation for one year.

"We are so pleased that Mr McKay is finally being held accountable for his inactions," said Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations.

"Abandoning horses in winter to fare for themselves is illegal and cruel. There is no excuse for his failure to properly look after his horses.

"He had the knowledge, the ability and the money to assist these horses and yet he gave up. Thank goodness the many volunteers and constables in this case did not."

McKay had explained he was delivering supplies to a friend out hiking in September 2008 when he got stuck in boggy terrain and had to free the horses.

When he found them weeks later he couldn't get them out of the snow. His rescue efforts were unsuccessful.

McKay said that he was in an accident after his failed rescue efforts that meant he could not help in the town's successful rescue operation.