Horses cared for properly at vet’s Rockwood farm

ByValerie Hauch

The Ontario SPCA says it has concluded that horses at a Rockwood farm owned by Halton Hills holistic veterinarian Dr. Sharon Kopinak “are getting the care they require as outlined under the Ontario SPCA Act.”

Alison Cross, spokesperson for the Ontario SPCA, also noted in the two-sentence statement Wednesday that a “thorough investigation into the case” has been concluded.

Please continue reading here.


  1. It’s absolutely crazy, the scenarios some of these posters come up with. It apparently only takes an misplaced allegation and readers of the story of those allegations are off and running with all kinds of nutso theories.
    Here’s what’s real:
    1) Sharon Kopinak, the vet and owner, is in fine form, putting in days longer than most of you can imagine working, get this, to – HELP ANIMALS IN NEED. As she has been doing all through her career. Perhaps you should read some of the comments on the original story page – testimonials from people who have direct experience of what she does and are very grateful for her care and knowledge. She very sensibly wants to work at what she does, owes none of you an explanation, has been exonerated.
    2) OSPCA investigators were taken on a long, detailed survey of every inch of the farm and met every single horse. At Sharon’s insistence. They, unlike most of you armchair critics, have a real picture of what the circumstances are like, not you. No intervention, no emaciated and/or wounded animals taken into care. If there is no faith in the OSPCA, why ask them to investigate at all? Then whinge on when you don’t like the results. Really?
    3) I take photos as an integral part of my job. Unless you’ve been there, you still have no clear “picture” of these horses in question because photos can tell very different stories, varying according to light and angle. Cell phone photos, grabbed on the run, as these women were sneaking around in someone else’s barn, do not tell the story. So accept some facts: the stalls are not “wet and nasty”, the horses are not “emaciated” the wounds from the gate injury are not raging from untreated infection, and the horses are all oblivious to your conjecture because they are fine, cared for and loved.
    4) The reporters were reporting, wait for it: allegations. They were not reporting the results of an investigation, their own or anyone else’s. So patting the reporters on the back for courageously “speaking out” is just erroneous. In investigative cases, they do – I have great faith in their ability to raise issues – but that was not the case here.
    I give credit to Heather, who stated in her posting: I don’t understand why people as so quick to accept allegations as fact but dismiss facts as unbelievable.
    I’m with you on that, Heather. The rest of you really need to get a life. I’d be happy to come out to any barn and take a few photos in light of my choosing (perhaps when you’re in the middle of mucking out, dirty hay strewn about, water pails empty) and post a few “allegations” about any of you who cannot accept the fact and findings of a legitimate investigation, just so you know what this person has been experiencing at your hands.

    1. You may be able to find a half-empty water trough or some manure in a stall, but you’d be hard pressed to come up with horses that inexplicably thin at “my” facility.

      1. Perhaps because you don’t treat horses with health problems, perhaps you are not a veterinarian? Thought you were a blogger, didn’t see the DVM after your name.

      2. Further, Heather, I suggest you read your own most recent blog post which quoted Paul Watson at length about personal attacks. You don’t know Sharon Kopinak, but you’re willing to work towards tearing down someone who has devoted more years caring for animals – and had more successes, amassed more knowledge about animal health – than you’ve been on the planet. Why are you so persistent in going after her, from your safe and comfortable distance? If it is only your concern for the body score of these animals? Perhaps you should also re-read my comments about factors affecting photography. Again, I notice on your own blog site that you most often use drawings, not photos, leading me to think you aren’t so proficient with camera techniques either. And you disregard other photos of that mare out in the field, not looking “emaciated”. So. go back and read what Paul Watson said and give some sober second thought to your targeting of Dr. Kopinak. There are actually villains out there in the world, some of them at the Stouffville Market. Focus your efforts on the villains, in that I applaud you.

    2. Targeting Dr. Kopinak? Really? I’ve made no slanderous accusations against her. I simply question why so many horses are emaciated. No, I’m not a veterinarian, are you? I do happen to have a B.Sc after my name though.

      1. No slander, it’s all innuendo, your comments. Continuing to ask “why” when the OSPCA says the horses are cared for. May your horses, in your “facility”, always be happy, healthy and shiny, because you apparently can’t comprehend any other state. And no, I’m not a veterinarian but I most certainly have the first-hand knowledge you lack.

      2. It’s quite clear that the horses are not “cared-for.” Especially when a client comes to the property to drop off her horse, and is FRIGHTENED by the state of the horses in the barn – to the point of recovering her horse in a covert operation. The OSPCA typically leaves horses in the care of owners because they don’t have the facilities – this has been observed over time in Ontario even in contentious cases. The horses in the picture all have a general appearance of lack of care – tangled, matted manes in addition to everything else observed to be lacking.

        I think your posts also commit the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority.” You’re a personal friend of the vet, who has now taken to bashing me via pseudonym. You expect us all to believe whatever is said since this veterinarian is much loved, long serviced, etc. etc. Few people outside of the Dr.’s personal friends posting here seem to be buying that, especially considering the lack of countervailing evidence to the contrary. I would love nothing better than to hear that there is a reasonable explanation and that the Dr. is completely exonerated, however, the veterinarian herself says “I’m not talking to anybody.”

    3. Someday, I hope to be as proficient in photography as those who can make a healthy horse appear as an emaciated bone-rack on the Henneke scale. I hear it’s quite the talent. Where does one go for courses for this? Industrial Light and Magic? No, I’m not a qualified photographer, but I am rather helped along by a very nice camera of recent purchase. I’m also a 3D hobby artist, which explains why you see so many “drawings” on my blog.

      1. Jo-Anne Ward · ·

        I’m sure photographic evidence was lacking (probably-poor lighting)
        in previous well completed OSPCA investigations.
        Appalachian Chief RIP… horses from Sang Royale Equestrian…RIP
        A week ago I bought items at a Huron Bay Co-op store. The cashier informed me rather harshly, I might add, horses at Markdale farm today are doing just swell.
        Her niece is to blame for start of false allegations, emaciated horses only needed more selenium or something…. In court again, few days.
        IMO If silence is golden, there is no need for CHDC,
        Nadine Griffith posted today, she drives by Ian Luckett horses in Erin, sees them looking very bad, told me over phone, its stressful for her to not help them.
        Thanks to former successful (lol) OSPCA proceedings,Soup Bones stand quiet in mud waiting.Suffering,its not all right, but then again, maybe I just need to get a life.

  2. Jo-Anne Ward · ·

    The pics and comments published last Saturday are no doubt…disturbing
    I have never met Dr.Kopinak but she GRADUATED IN 1966.
    I do NOT believe that Alice was in any kind of imaginary wonderland…
    witnessing 12 emaciated horses in stalls with NO WATER even.

    1. jean robertson · ·

      The vet that did the assessment on the horses could have been a personal friend as well as the horse owner’s own vet. The spca in their wisdom find it perfectly acceptable as the horses will be found to be in good condition with body scores padded so all is above board as far as they are concerned and they don’t have to do anything.

  3. Sure sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I wonder if the horses were left in the “care” of a certain someone… nah. That would never happen. Would it?

  4. Once again the OSPCA does nothing. As long as horses are involved investigations seem to end very quickly and no charges against the farm owners. The pictures are there for everyone to see them and they show a horrible story.

  5. It is good to know that sound investigative techniques prevail over unsubstantiated claims and lack of due diligence on the part of the reporter.

    1. The horses are extremely thin and some with open wounds, as we saw. That fact is not in dispute. I can’t see how people are blaming the journalist – she saw emaciated horses and she reported on it.

      1. The journalist accepted allegations as fact, rather than waiting for the OSPCA or OPP investigation. That is why people are blaming the journalists.
        Again, I direct you to the GLobal News clip where you can see the WHITE HORSE HAPPILY EATING GRASS IN THE FIELD.

        No one is keeping an eye on this lady, as Mary-Joe suggests as no one found anything wrong.

        I don’t understand why people as so quick to accept allegations as fact but dismiss facts as unbelievable.

      2. I thought it was pictures that she saw not the horses.She is being blamed because life shattering stories should not be published on the strength of unquailfied people.Your comments and almost all of the rest are proof why rigorous ethical standards must be met before going to print.You are all worried about cruelty to animals but don’t seem to bat an eye when it comes to people.

      3. Jo-Anne Ward · ·

        ” Shooting the messenger seems to have become more popular than deer hunting”.

      4. It’s plainly obvious the horses are in terrible condition. I will believe that which I can see with my own eyes before I will necessarily believe the opinions of people I never heard of posting on a blog.

    2. How can you say the claims are unsubstantiated?? What about the pictures and the fact that 3 people saw the condition of these horses. Thank goodness there are reporters out there who aren’t afraid to speak up.

  6. The OSPCA does not have resources to take in horses and the ones they do eat away in their pocket books. That is why they much prefer to leave the horses where they are and make sure the situation is dealt with. I think that is what happened here. Somebody is probably keeping an eye on this lady. No one is going to know the situation because of privacy. I am hoping that they did indeed leave the horses in someone’s good care. It sounds like the vet might be having some health issues.

    1. jean robertson · ·

      Mary-Joe you are correct the spca does not want to take in horses because of the cost and the fact that most of the horses are worthless as far as being able to recoup their costs. Be it a hoarder or a person with mental issues the animals shouldn’t have to suffer. The spca monitors horses for a short time then completely forgets about them. If it were a pack of dogs they would be right in their seizing them because dogs especially small breeds can be sold for big money.

  7. I don’t understand why all three horses appeared in the same state of emaciation. Why is the horse who allegedly ran into a wire fence also emaciated?

  8. jean robertson · ·

    Reminds me of the bcspca in my area!

  9. Maybe the OSPCA means (obviously stupid people capitalist asses),or maybe there blind, maybe they don`t know how to care for horses,and are just pretending,or maybe they just like to play kiss ass.Whatever there problem ,could they please help those horses,or move over so someone competent can.

  10. Barbara Griffith · ·

    I don’t buy it either. To clear herself why didn’t the vet explain just why all of the horses had no water or hay in their stalls? Also did anyone notice how wet and nasty the floor of some of the stalls were? I noticed it in one of the photos that got a pretty good shot of the horses front legs. They would have been better off outside in a pen so they could get some fresh air and lay down if they wanted to on dry ground. Of course these vet’s are going to protect each other in order to protect their bottom line. They don’t want bad publicity.

  11. Anne Streeter · ·

    Something is amiss. Those photos were horrendous! I don’t have a whole lot of faith in the OSPCA and what in the world is all the secrecy about! Who is protecting who?

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