The BC SPCA said its animal protection officers have removed 10 adult dogs and 28 puppies from a property north of Kamloops.
Eileen Drever, BC SPCA senior officer of protection and stakeholder relations, said the dogs were from a breeder who was intent on selling them.
The organization said the miniature dachshunds were living in substandard and filthy conditions, in cages and other areas with excessive feces, high levels of ammonia from urine and surrounded by injurious objects. The BC SPCA said the dogs are poorly socialized and very fearful.
The dogs are receiving veterinary assessments and will receive ongoing care and behavioural support at the SPCA, but are not yet available for adoption.
“Whenever we have a large-scale intake of animals from a cruelty investigation, it put a tremendous strain on our resources,” Drever said, explaining to KTW the steps that led to the seizure.
"What happened was, we had received a complaint from a member of the public concerned about the the dogs on this property, and any time that we receive a complaint, we attend and give the owner an opportunity to fix a problem," Drever said.
"If there is a problem — and, clearly with this, there was a problem — we give the owner an opportunity to to follow our recommendations. Well, they failed to do that. And, as a result, we applied for, and was successful in, obtaining a warrant to search, which was executed yesterday (April 7)."
While Drever did not have information on the timeline from first visit to seizure of dogs, she said the goal is to work with people so problems can be corrected.
"You know, that's our goal, to help animals and help their people. But in this particular instance, they failed to follow our recommendations and it resulted in the removal of the animals. So, it was within the dogs' best interest to remove them from that situation and, as we speak, each and every one is still being assessed and then we'll go from there."
Drever said the animals were removed under provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, noting the property owners have an opportunity to apply to get them back through the BC Farm Industry Review Board.
"They will then look at the facts the they'll take both sides into consideration and they will then decide whether or not to return the animals," Drever said. "It's quite a long, drawn-out process. But you know, it's an independent third party. They're not biased and they will just take the case on its own merits and then make a decision."
Drever was asked if the breeder tried to satisfy the BC SPCA's recommendations to improve conditions or if the breeder was deliberately defiant.
"I'd love to comment on that, but I can't," she said. "I don't think I should, but suffice to say, the animals were all removed."
Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, BC SPCA investigators are obligated to remove animals that are in unsafe conditions, based on section 13 of the Act, which states an authorized agent may enter a property with a warrant if they have reasonable grounds to believe the property houses an animal in distress.
"Our goal is not to take people's animals away," Drever said. "That is the last thing we want to do. We want to help people and and, actually, we're really successful in educating people and they get it. But in this particular instance, they refused to follow our recommendations."
Drever said the fate of the miniature dachshunds depends on whether the breeder appeals to the BC Farm Review Board for their return. If, ultimately, the dogs remain with the BC SPCA, they will likely be adopted out once their medical assessment is completed,
"There's this process to go through and animals are considered property under the law, which is ridiculous," Drever said. "They're sentient beings, but still considered property and, as a result, these animals are not our property."
She said the 38 dogs should be back to optimum health soon.
"I think they'll be fine. The fact that we took them out of that situation relieved a lot of their distress," she said.
The BC SPCA is accepting donations to help cover the costs of emergency care for the canines. Click here for more information.