To The Editor,

My name is Dayna Hammond and I grew up in the Vankleek Hill area. We lived in Chute a Blondeau until the age of 13 and then moved to St Bernardin where we spent the remainder of my teenage years and well into University. I attended PCPS all throughout elementary and eventually graduated from VCI in 2004. I grew up with a love of Nicko’s chicken subs, the August fair & the demolition derby, and the smell of cow manure & fertilizer in the spring and fall seasons. I currently live in Alberta, where I have for the past 10 years. I don’t plan on being here forever, and one day dream of moving back home. However, this is where my work is needed and so for now, this is where I stay.

 When I moved out to Alberta I came with the belief that this was a province that loved and lived, what I believe to be, an authentic agricultural lifestyle. A place where livestock were loved, raised & respected and where community was important and impactful. Where families weren’t just blood related, but people who showed up for one another in times of trial and turbulence. Perhaps I was naive, having been raised in a community that felt similar to what I just described. Because over the last 10 years I’ve slowly felt that glimmer of hope dwindle to barely a flickering flame.

 I speak more into the way horses are treated in the Western provinces. Where you can find more horse per capita East of Sherwood Park, Alberta than the entire state of Texas. And no, that isn’t an exageration. This is a province where there are backyard breeders and hoarders who own more horses than they do pairs of socks and underwear combined. Where the SPCA can’t keep up with the number of neglect cases thrown onto their desks because they don’t have enough officers to take on the workload. Where 300 horses are run through a sale in one day which results in 40-50 horses being bought for $50 each by the meat buyer, only to be placed in holding pens until they’re sent to the Fort MacLeod meat plant or stuffed live into large crates at the Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg airports to be sent overseas to Japan for slaughter.

 I sat online this Saturday and watched the Westlock auction sale. 285 horses ran through. Some very skinny, some healthy looking. I watched as a tired 22 year old gelding was ridden in by a large man whose weight that horse could barely carry. I watched as that man did everything he could to display how quiet and safe this kids’ horse was in hopes of raising his sale price. I listened as they said this horse had taken care of so many people it’s entire life. Children. Husbands. Ridden on trails, used to rope cows. I listened as they said he required maintenance to keep him comfortable and sound. And then I cried. I cried for that gelding who deserved to retire safely with one of the families he spent his entire life taking care of. I cried for that senior gelding who deserved to be humanely euthanized, surrounded by love and kindness, instead of thrown through an auction just to be loaded up into an unknown trailer and taken somewhere new. Where he would be used and under appreciated once again as he’s pumped full of drugs just to keep his pain at bay long enough to ‘get a few more good years out of him’.

I sat online and watched as mamas with their babies were run through together just to be sold separately. Those poor babies frightened and unsure. Clinging close to their mothers for safety just to be ripped from them 5 minutes later and thrown into a pen alone to be hauled to who knows where. I cried for those mothers who were bought by the meat buyer for $200 a piece just to be continually bred for more babies which will all be eventually sent for slaughter.

I cried for the yearling who ran through with cuts and sores all over her feet. Who was marked as unsound and asked to be sold for meat by her original owner. I cried tears of relief when I won the bid on her. $200 for a gentle soul I now call Sugar. I cried more tears of sadness when I went to pick her up and she was glued to another skinny yearling, clearly a best friend she had known her entire short little life. I couldn’t fathom separating them. And so I did everything I could possibly imagine to save them from further heartbreak. I found the person who bought the other yearling and I bought Sugar’s best friend back for her. Sugar and Spice are currently sitting in my quarantine pen together. They haven’t moved further than 2 feet from each other. They eat together, drink water together, and explore their new surroundings together. They’re safe. But so many others are not. I couldn’t save them all. But I could save these two, and that’s something.

Tomorrow they will see the vet. They’re both very skinny, timid and unhandled and so it will take patience and a little work. But the sores on Sugar’s feet need to be seen asap, and so time is not something we can offer right now. But compassion is. And that’s something myself, and my team at the organization can offer.

I founded the Parsons Animal Rescue Foundation just before the pandemic hit. We were granted charitable status in 2021 and have been able to save, rehab and rehome 52 animals in the last 3 years. Mostly horses, though we have helped with bottle fed kittens, First Nations puppy rescues, and even abandoned guinea pigs. My team is small and I front most of the labour, social media efforts, bookkeeping, etc. But my team is slowly growing and we are making our way towards being able to intake more animals in need.

My only purpose in writing this was in hopes of raising awareness to the current epidemic happening out West. I cried myself to sleep last night out of exhaustion and knew in my heart that I needed to reach out to as many resources as I could think of for help. There is so much more information out there that you can find and educate yourselves on with regards to the realities and the efforts being made to impact positive change to animal welfare laws. Our rescue is continually sharing news and information and can be found on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok as well as our personal website. The Canadian Horse Defense Coalition is also an amazing organization who work closely with Jann Arden to fight for an end to Live horse transport overseas for slaughter. I know it’s a long shot, reaching out to a community so far away from the problem. However, I believe the more peope who are aware and have as much information as possible, the better chance we have at making impactful change to the problem. And I know the power the community of Vankleek Hill possesses to encourage change and I just desperately hope they can share even just a little of that power our way.

Thank you,

Dayna Hammond


The Parsons Animal Rescue Foundation