The BC SPCA removed 88 animals, including a pot-bellied pig and a turtle Monday afternoon, from what the resident described as a not-for-profit animal rescue, operating out of a rental property on 216 Street.
The 45 dogs, 18 cats and 24 farm animals were seized as a warrant was executed by SPCA constables, who arrived dressed in white protective suits, with six vehicles and numerous crates and cages.
Three dead animals were also found on the property, the SPCA said on Tuesday.
“We received a complaint about animals in distress on this property and obtained a warrant to view the animals,” said Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the BC SPCA.
“Our constables and a community veterinarian attended the property and, based on their assessment, we removed a total of 88 animals who met the definition of distress under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and who required immediate care.”
She noted that the animals are not part of a puppy or cat mill or breeding situation but were seized because of alleged emaciation, severe periodontal disease and other medical issues. There were also concerns about the condition the animals were being housed in, she said.
“These animals needed immediate help,” said Moriarty. The SPCA claims one of the dogs was in a state of critical distress.
The animal’s caretaker, Sandra Simans, 60, is the founder of the not-for-profit 1atatime Rescue. In 2012, the BC SPCA seized 52 dogs and 16 cats from her rescue organization, which was based out of a rental property in Burnaby.
At that time, she said she was rescuing animals from the U.S. and Asia.
“Part of being a responsible rescue group is to take in the number of animals you can adequately care for.
“If an individual or group becomes overwhelmed, the BC SPCA is always here to help. But it is not acceptable to take in animals and allow them to continue suffering without proper nutrition, housing or veterinary care,” said Moriarty.
In the 2012 seizure Simans successfully sued the SPCA for defamation, receiving $2,500 after the society said she had injured a Chihuahua in her care, when in fact Simans had rescued the dog and was nursing the injuries inflicted on the animal.
But the judge did say the SPCA was making fair comment in saying Simans was an animal hoarder.
Simans told the Times she has been doing everything she can to care for the animals.
“There is a bit of sour grapes here. Yes, not everybody was perfect but nobody was dying here. There are a lot of untruths being told by the SPCA,” said Simans.
“You do the very best you can and you do it with more passion than anybody does. You do it for long hours and you give up your social life and you give up a lot of stuff, which is what we do here.”
One of the dogs seized didn’t belong to Simans. She was caring for a Doberman, which has special needs, for a man sick with cancer.
Simans claimed the SPCA has since put that dog down.
She denies that she is hoarding animals and doesn’t believe 88 animals in her care is a lot — “Not when you take into account some are chickens, pigeons,” she said.
The dogs seized in Langley are primarily medium and small-breed dogs. They are being triaged at the Vancouver SPCA shelter and will be assessed to determine on-going treatment.
All of the farm animals, which include goats, sheep, hens, roosters, ducks, doves, pigeons and a pot-bellied pig, are being treated at the Good Shepherd Barn at BC SPCA’s Surrey branch.
Simans said some of the dogs weren’t in the best shape, but she claims she was planning to go to the vet to get some of them medication. She had a note from a vet clearing one of her dog’s health.
She hopes to find the funds to get all her animals back from the SPCA.
“They are like family to us,” she said.
“This seizure is just one big fundraiser for the SPCA and if I want them back, I have to pay a big bill.”
In February, the SPCA shut down the largest puppy mill in B.C. history in Langley. In total, 66 sick dogs and puppies were seized from a Langley breeder. Some of the dogs had broken limbs, missing ears, eyes, infections, abscessed and major malnourishment and fur caked in dried feces. But there was a happy ending, with all the dogs successfully adopted out into new homes.
The man and woman involved in this puppy mill have not been charged although the SPCA said it was expecting to forward a report to Crown counsel.
Photos by Dan Ferguson/Langley Times