The B.C. SPCA has recently seized 27 animals living in deplorable conditions from a Southside property.
Constables seized 13 adult dogs, seven puppies and seven horses from the Cheslatta property on March 9, 2017.
“The owner does not live on the property and the dogs were left tethered outdoors,” says SPCA constable Dale Bakken.
The seized dogs, primarily Australian shepherds and mixed breeds, included six puppies under two days old and one three-week-old puppy.
“Many of the seized animals were underweight and some were showing signs of dehydration,” said Bakken. “The horses, including pregnant mares and very underweight yearlings, had no shelter, no water and limited access to food.”
“They were eating snow for hydration,” he added.
However, not all animals were removed from the property. The B.C. SPCA has confirmed that dozens of horses were left behind.
“There were horses left behind and we left orders with the animal owner to improve the conditions for those horses, and I don’t believe any other animals were left on site,” explained Marcie Moriarty, B.C. SPCA’s chief prevention and enforcement officer. “He will have an opportunity to improve those conditions, and if he does not, he could potentially face further seizures.”
When asked about enforcement, Moriarty said the B.C. SPCA will coordinate with the RCMP to do a follow-up check.
“We had a member of the Burns Lake RCMP who assisted in doing those checkups, being the eyes and ears for the SPCA when we couldn’t be there,” she said. “That’s a relationship that we want to continue in this file.”
Moriarty added that the B.C. SPCA will be recommending charges of animal cruelty that could impact the animal owner’s future ability to own animals, should those charges be accepted.
“We are really looking forward to that permanent solution with the courts,” she said.
Community members have told Lakes District News that they have been reporting this situation to the B.C. SPCA for the past couple of years. When asked why the B.C. SPCA has not taken action earlier, Moriarty says it was due to a lack of resources.
“Unfortunately we don’t have a constable to cover that area,” she explained. “We are not funded by the government to do our enforcement work and so we do the best that we can with the donor dollars.”
“We respond to approximately 10,000 cruelty complaints a year with just 30 full-time constables, and it’s obviously very troubling for us that we can’t be everywhere,” she continued.
“That’s the reality in some of the places in the province which are more remote and we don’t have the resources to have our boots on the ground, so we try to think creatively and work with other agencies to reach as many animals as we can,” she added.
According to Moriarty, the Southside seizure was a “huge endeavour” for the B.C. SPCA. It was snowing and -15 C when the SPCA team worked to remove the animals from the Southside.
“Removing 27 animals like that, given the terrain, the climate at the time, having to access a ferry, it’s a substantial project,” she said.
The dogs and puppies are being cared for by staff and volunteers at the North Cariboo SPCA branch in Prince George and the horses are being housed with a Prince George equine rescue group.
“We’re happy that these animals are now safe and getting the care they need,” said Jamie Walsh, manager of the North Cariboo SPCA. “The adult dogs are doing well in the shelter and the mom and her babies are in foster care to ensure the young puppies can be cared for around the clock.”
Under the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the animal owner has 14 days after the seizure to dispute the seizure. If no dispute is received, the B.C. SPCA will be given custody of the animals.
“Ultimately the goal is to have them in loving homes,” said Moriarty.