Lawyer working to reunite farmer with pig, horse

Lawyer is trying to get a lifelong farmer in Barriere reunited with two of his animals

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

A Kamloops lawyer is trying to get a lifelong farmer in Barriere reunited with two of his beloved animals.

Defence lawyer Jay Michi said yesterday SPCA officials executed a warrant on a farm operated by Paul Sabyan on June 2, seizing 31 piglets, 18 sows, one boar and one bay stallion.

“They were concerned he’s too old to husband them at 77 [years],” Michi said.

The provincial SPCA’s chief prevention and enforcement officer Marcie Moriarty confirmed the seizure by officials from the agency.

“They met the definition of distress under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and they were seized. The vast majority have been surrendered.”

The animals were placed in foster care and none were destroyed due to health problems, she said.

Sabyan pleaded guilty and was sentenced in March under the Livestock Act to allowing his animals to roam on neighbours’ property and a nearby highway.

During sentencing the Crown outlined the frustration of neighbours and danger to motorists from Sabyan’s pigs — which ranged in size from 200 and 900 pounds —  repeatedly escaping an enclosure.

Sabyan also pleaded guilty under the Motor Vehicle Act to allowing domestic animals on the highway.

Judge Len Marchand called it during sentencing “more than a nuisance.”

“There was significant damage to neighbours’ property and risks to motorists on the Yellowhead Highway.”

As part of his one-year term of probation, Sabyan was required to provide proof of his fence repair and evidence of inspections.

Michi said Sabyan has abided by the court order and the SPCA action is unrelated to his probation. He will apply for return of the two animals through an SPCA review process.

Moriarty confirmed that review is underway. If unsuccessful it can be appealed to the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board and ultimately the courts.

Michi said the aging farmer’s desire is simple.

“He just wants his horse back and one pet pig.”