SPCA officer Leanne Thomson with a miniature stallion seized last week.

SPCA advises charges in South Cloverdale neglect case

Officials grateful for 'overwhelming' community response after Aug. 11 seizure of 57 distressed dogs, horses and cats.

Charges of animal cruelty will be recommended in connection with the seizure last week of 57 animals from a South Cloverdale property.

SPCA senior animal protection officer Eileen Drever confirmed this week charges against one woman under both the Criminal Code and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act are expected to be forwarded to Crown counsel next week.

Last week, BC SPCA officials investigating a complaint of animals in distress seized 35 dogs, 16 horses and six cats from a “disgusting” situation of neglect, without proper access to water, food or shelter.

The animals were in various states of malnutrition, and the horses’ hooves were “grossly overgrown,” Drever said at the time.

She told Peace Arch News Wednesday that officials had immediately sought a warrant to access the property when the complaint came in – instead of posting a notice requesting an inspection appointment – due to familiarity with the so-far-unnamed woman.

“We’ve known this individual for 20 years,” Drever said.

In the past, she said, investigators have arrived for appointments to find the animals had been removed.

On Aug. 11, “we didn’t even knock on her door,” Drever said. “We just applied for a warrant right away, and this is what we found.”

In addition to seizing nearly five dozen animals, the SPCA issued orders to address the conditions of approximately 15 other horses that were in less-severe states of distress. The owner was ordered to call in a veterinarian and a farrier, provide food and water, and clear the property of any hazards.

Drever said a follow-up visit one week later confirmed those orders have been followed, and said monitoring will continue.

Drever expressed appreciation for the outpouring of support that has been seen since news of the seizure broke.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response,” Drever said. “We’ve had people offering to foster and to adopt and to donate and to volunteer. It’s been amazing.”

Drever said some of the dogs and cats have already been adopted out. Once the horses are healthy enough, their profiles will be posted to spca.bc.ca and an open house will be arranged, where potential adoptive families will be able to meet them, and submit an adoption application and sealed bid.

“They may not necessarily go to the highest bidder, but it will be the best home,” she said.

Drever noted the interest and support from the public – the SPCA estimated the cost of treating the animals to be $20,000, and more than $40,000 has been donated – is appreciated in more ways than one. It also helps staff come to terms with the traumatic experience of finding animals in such poor shape.

“If you could just thank everybody… It’s very heartwarming.”