bc-081223-trapped-horses1-ugc

Two abandoned horses who were rescued from deep snow in a remote area in B.C. should not go back to their owner, says a volunteer who helped save the animals. ((Courtesy Sara Olofsson))

The owner of two horses rescued from the remote B.C. mountains says he wants his horses back, but at least one of the rescuers thinks the animals should go to a new home.

The horses, owned by Edmonton lawyer Frank Mackay, were discovered by a snowmobiler near McBride, B.C. in mid-December. A group of community volunteers spent a week digging a trench through the deep snow so the trapped animals could be walked out.

Mackay told CBC News Monday he twice tried to rescue the horses himself since he had left them there in the fall.

During his last attempt in early December, he said he realized the snow was just too deep and he would have to leave the horses there.

"We hauled food into them, poured Gatorade down their throats with a funnel," he said. "I wasn't about to put them down. I was going to let nature take its course, if that's what had to happen." 

Although he didn't help with the community rescue, Mackay said he's prepared to reimburse the volunteers for lost wages and money they spent on fuel.

And in January, he said, he's going to go to B.C. to reclaim the two horses, which are currently being cared for at a local farm.

Dave Jeck, one of the McBride residents who spent days on the pre-Christmas rescue effort, said Mackay should not be allowed to have the horses back.

"I would prefer he does not get them back — that they go to some other home to be cared for," Jeck said.

"He never attempted to contact anybody in the rescue crew or come out himself and lend a hand, or send some friends of his to lend a hand. He seemed too distant from the whole thing to me."

Although the case is under investigation by the B.C. SPCA, Jeck said he doesn't think charges are warranted.

Mackay did try to rescue the horses earlier, but the attempt was scuttled by his "inexperience," Jeck said.