Bear Valley Rescue is run by Mike and Kathy Bartley, a couple that describes themselves as “just two people doing what we can to help animals in need.” The Bartley’s journey to opening a horse rescue didn’t start the way you might expect. It started in 2002, when Kathy picked up a book by her favorite murder mystery author, Martha Grimes. The Grave Maurice contained a plot line based around PMU farms, something that Kathy knew nothing about at the time. However, it struck a chord with her, so she began doing research. Kathy soon learned that the only future for foals born from PMU mares was slaughter, a fact that she couldn’t sit with and not act upon.
Mike and Kathy’s first visit to an auction resulted in the purchase of 12 horses. “Being faced with hundreds of horses in pens, knowing they were all shipping to slaughter was no easy thing. Selecting just a few to save was heartbreaking,” Kathy recalls. Since its founding in 2004, the rescue has grown beyond their wildest dreams. “We now have 150 horses in our care, along with other resident animals such as rabbits, chickens, pigs, goats, llamas and cows,” says Kathy
Kathy also explained, "While originally many of our rescues were the result of the pmu industry, that is no longer the case. Most of our horses are now either owner surrenders (to keep them out of auctions) or from neglect and seizure situations."
In September of 2015, Bear Valley Rescue achieved verification status as the first Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries Verified Equine Sanctuary in Canada. GFAS is the only globally recognized organization providing standards for and identifying legitimate animal sanctuaries.
As many of the horses that Bear Valley rescues are PMU mares, all of which are pregnant, the main focus is on ensuring the health and safety of both the mother and the foal. All of the horses at Bear Valley are dewormed and vetted regularly. Although many of the horses come to the sanctuary without having been worked with much, they are still surprisingly friendly and happy to be there. As Kathy says, “It is really sad the number of good horses that end up being slaughtered because no one wants them.” While adoptions aren’t the primary goal and Bear Valley functions as a lifelong home for many horses, more animals going to good homes opens up room for more to be saved.
“We have dedicated ourselves to taking in and, when possible, re-homing horses and other animals. In the process we have made a lot of sacrifices - spare time and vacations just don’t exist anymore!” Kathy jokes. “But we do what we do because we are passionate about the animals and feel that they all deserve a humane and peaceful existence, no matter what their past or future potential.”
While Bear Valley is incredibly grateful for understanding neighbors that donate the use of land and pastures for the horses, they do rely heavily on generosity from their supporters. Whether through monetary donations, volunteering, donating necessary items, or fostering and sponsoring the horses, any help is always much appreciated. Please use the information below to contribute in any way that you can and help Kathy and Mike continue their hard work.
Bear Valley Rescue
Sundre, Alberta, Canada
If you are interested in loaning or donating your horse trailer to this particular organization, then check out details of our Horse Trailer Donation and Sharing Program here. Then, post your comments below to help out!
Also, learn more about horse rescues in these two articles: