Who Is Hurting Horses?

The Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadow News 16 July 1995
by Roxanne Hooper


Are random attacks on horses in Webster's Corner the actions of a Satanic cult, a knife-wielding vagrant, a wild animal or some other mystical source?

Police are baffled by a series of reports in the 256 Street area during the past six weeks where horses have apparently been cut and stabbed. None of the horses have been killed, but there have been reports of severe wounds to the animals legs and chest area, said RCMP Staff Sgt. Fred Hansen.

Some of the horse lovers failed to report the incidents because they thought their animal had some kind of unexplained accident. They assumed their case was an isolated incident, Hansen said. But during the past week, more people in the local horse community have been talking about the individual incidents and it is becoming apparent they're not isolated accidents but possibly random vicious attacks. Police have only had four official complaints called in, but Hansen said he's hearing of a number of other cases that may be related. There's no evidence to indicate that these are definitely attacks by a human. Equestrian vet Dr. Randall Scarrow said he's bewildered by the unusual position of the wounds, and believes it would be nearly impossible for a person to cut a horse - especially more than once - without being kicked.

The wounds Scarrow examined and stitched up on several horses were done by a very sharp instrument. In 12 years as an equestrian vet, he has never seen anything like this. "The wounds were horrendous," he said. Some of the cuts were through the tough hide, and through to the muscles. He spent more than two hours sewing up the wounds on Kendal Venning's thoroughbred "Tumbler Ridge" on June 20.

"It's a quandary," he said. "I think a person would have to be a master to make those kinds of cuts." But Scarrow concurs with wildlife officials who say it's unlikely a large cat or other predator inflicted the wounds either.

There have been at least three reports in eastern Maple Ridge during the same period of time of a homeless person lurking around the ditches of various horse farms. In one case, Hansen said the man was picked up after a woman called to complain. But no charges were laid because there was no evidence this man had done anything wrong - even though he's known to police and believed to carry a weapon.

Venning's neighbours, the Ericksons, also had a horse attack on their property. Elmer Erickson said he remembers spotting a suspicious character crawling out of the ditch across the street a few days before the Venning's horse was attacked.

Other residents in the area, including the Venning family, suspect it might be the work of a Satanic cult believed to be operating in Webster's Corner for years. Hansen said police have not been told of any such link with cult action, and at this point find the attacks mysterious. While police have no reason to believe the attacks are cult related, some of the horse owners claim the cult may be conducting a blood-ritual and simply stabbing the large animal to drain blood, rather than killing them. In the case of Venning's horse, Kendal's father Chris said the attack occurred between 11:30 am and 3:30 PM. When the family returned home that afternoon, Tumbler was in the pasture acting rather odd. Kendal ran out to check on the horse and came running back to the house screaming that the horse was standing in a pool of blood.

He suffered cuts to his upper right thigh, lower legs and left front knee. The horse also suffered a sharp, deep stab wound to the chest. Erickson said his niece's horse was attacked in early June. They found a large gash on his back leg that went through to the muscle. It required several layers of stitches to repair the wound, but Erickson could find no cause for the injury. The slash-like wound was not mentioned again until the Venning's family reported Tumbler's attack later that month. Scarrow was also called out to mend injuries to the Christensen's horse at their farm on 128 Street. Their Arabian "Casey" suffered a deep slash wound to its right back leg during the first week of July. Four stitches were required to mend the wound.

"It's like someone is going around cutting up horses," said family member Sandra Shaw. "It's kind of spooky that someone would go around and do this." Police are warning horse owners to be aware of the attacks and to be alert to anything suspicious in their neighbourhood.

PostScript - 1995

The year closed with no definite conclusions as to what or whom was responsible for these numerous attacks. Fingers were pointed in various directions but no arrests were ever made, nor anyone charged. At one point during the course of these events the RCMP received 19 phone calls within one week. A local vet was quoted as describing the situation as a state of paranoia, with local animal owners extremely nervous. In May a horse was slashed and required 70 stitches. On June 3rd a pony and cow were attacked. June 20th, two horses. July 12th another horse. July 23rd two farm birds were killed and a horse cut. These random attacks continued into August with a reported total of 17 such attacks, then they stopped as abruptly as they started.