EDITORIAL: Hants County horse shooting requires full investigation

Carole Morris-Underhill editor@hantsjournal.ca
Published on June 2, 2014

It's hard to believe the details surrounding the shooting death of an untamed horse in Hants County isn't a work of fiction.

Yet, here we are, months after the deed was done, and the questions still linger, the accusations still fly surrounding the herd of horses in Sweets Corner.

The Hants Journal hasn't heard a version of the story that makes 100 per cent sense yet. With a number of timeline anomalies, it's hard to imagine how it ever will.

There are so many allegations, accusations, rumours, and finger pointing going on that it's very difficult to determine the truth. As such, an independent inquiry is the only way there will be a satisfactory answer in the shooting death of one of the untamed horses.

The one thing that is crystal clear, however, is that someone failed these creatures. Or perhaps, more accurately, several people failed these creatures. An inquiry should be able to suss that out.

There have been so many chances to resolve this issue over the years that it's puzzling why it had to come to this.

While it's commendable that Ralph Morash saved the original horses from slaughter, it's puzzling why these animals were allowed to roam on property he didn't own, for decades, without issue.

It's also puzzling why an animal right's group wasn't thoroughly involved with this case. An argument could be made that if it was a feral cat colony, the animals would have been altered years ago to prevent excessive inbreeding and, in turn, prevent the problem from spilling out onto adjoining properties.

In listening to the municipality's CAO, who outlined at a public meeting the steps West Hants took since 2011 to try and humanely remove the horses from the property, it's apparent no one wanted to take full responsibility for addressing this issue.

By all accounts, this has been a situation of passing the buck. Well, the buck stopped when a bullet was used to kill a stallion last fall.

The RCMP may have concluded the deputy warden was well within his rights to shoot the horse, however, the situation should never has escalated to that point. The residents of Cochrane Lane should have never been put in a situation where shooting an animal was their only recourse.

The outrage expressed on social media is understandable, but the unsubstantiated 'evidence' and name-calling is not constructive and only serves to fan the flames of the fire.

How this situation has been handled, by all parties involved, leaves a lot to be desired. This entire situation is embarrassing and is sullying the area's reputation.

At the very least, we must learn something from this animal's death. Otherwise, it will have died in vain.

If the public doesn't demand a full inquiry into this sorry saga, West Hants council must. To do so would show leadership, and transparency.

The only way to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again is to find out how it happened in the first place and put in safeguards to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. It's the only responsible thing to do.