Coffee and a Heartwrenching News Story

In February of 2009, Critteraid volunteers met over coffee to discuss the heartwrenching issue of the free-roaming horses in the Penticton/Summerland area. Over time, with a lot of research and a lot of input from equine savvy individuals, the Project Equus initiative was borne. It is a document that addresses issues surrounding these magnificent equines and has been shared with Indian Bands, the Regional District of the South Okanagan, and stakeholders that have expressed a desire to assist. Much of the documentation came from Band Members, Horse Owners/Guardians, Residents of the West Bench in Penticton and Individuals who truly respect the soul of these equine nomads among us. Project Equus has been divided into six components. They are:

A. Public Safety
B. Sound Equine Health
C. Good Range Management Practices
D. Compassionate Equine Training
E. Secure Future for the Horses
F. Viable Tourism Entrepreneurship

Read the full story here:


Raising the Funds to Begin

*Please Note – Project Equus is presently in hiatus.

In 2009, Critteraid raised the tuition costs to send Dolly Kruger to the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Montana, to train under the supervision of Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, a leading authority on the equine mare birth control vaccine. Dolly was the first Canadian to successfully complete the “Remote Delivery of PZP Immunocontraception in Wildlife Program”. Critteraid subsequently fundraised for funds for the Dart Rifle to administer the vaccine. Of course, Project Equus is only as good as the people reading it and developing some of the Strategic Planning suggestions, including:

  • Cataloguing horses
  • Providing food stations in winter
  • Providing water stations in winter
  • Segregation from public
  • Contraception
  • Develop equine training centre
  • Develop equine businesses
  • Education

Long Term Plan

All those involved want to do what is best for the horses now and in the long term. The Penticton Indian Band wants to take the steps to resolve this public safety issue and to help alleviate the suffering of these horses and give them a secure future and we want to help in any way we can to make it a reality. There are many options in resolving this problem and we want to work together to explore them all and find the one or ones that work for the horses here. The document was intended to provoke thought for change. It has done that. In February of 2011, the Honourable Steve Thomson, Minister of Natural Resource Operations, announced that a pregnant mare and a stallion seized from rangeland near Deadman Lake would be turned over to the Summerland-based rescue organization, Critteraid, under the umbrella of Project Equus. In days to follow, we received news that we would be also providing sanctuary for two additional pregnant mares, an additional stallion and a colt yearling. We named them Atticus, Anastasia, Avalon, Arundel, Aragon and Abercrombie.

The horses had been scheduled to go on the auction block at the Kamloops stockyard where their fate was likely to end up at slaughter. Minister Thomson has directed that the horses be handed over to Critteraid without any costs attached. Thomson had also directed Ministry staff to review current legislation to help find a long term solution to save any future feral horses from going to slaughter when rounded up. Critteraid is happy to be involved in working with the Ministry to explore potential solutions that will result in a humane outcome for the feral horses of B.C.

The Family Tree

Atticus-family-chart-1024x750UPDATE: Sadly, we lost Abercrombie in 2012. His cause of death was inconclusive and we suspect a type of bacteria. Avalon remains at Critteraid Farm where Abercrombie is buried. Anastasia’s adoption papers are pending and everyone else has been settled in to their adoptive homes.

Are You Inspired?

Project Equus is an inspiring story about how coming together as a community with generous support, time and donations can help those less fortunate creatures. If you still need more inspiration please read about Atticus and how well he has responded to Critteraid care and support. We hope this encourages you to give back and that you too will consider volunteering at the Critteraid Farm and within our community.

Volunteer Now