British Columbia

SPCA recovers 63 dogs from Mission, B.C. home claiming to be rescue operation

The B.C. SPCA says 63 dogs were removed from a property in Mission on Thursday, all alleged to be suffering medical and behavioural problems.

Little oversight of rescue organizations in B.C., according to SPCA official

Left: An SPCA employee wearing a bonnet, mask, gloves and a gown comforts a small brown and grey dog. Right: Another small, brown, furry dog seen close up.
The B.C. SPCA says animal protection officers seized 63 dogs from a property in Mission, where they say someone was claiming to run a rescue organization but keeping the animals in unsanitary conditions. (B.C. SPCA)

Animal protection officers with the B.C. SPCA seized 63 dogs from a property in Mission on Thursday, alleging that a person who claimed to be running a rescue organization was neglecting the animals.

The organization said the dogs were facing a range of medical and behavioural problems and being kept in substandard conditions in a garage and various rooms inside the home. Welfare officers say the animals were subject to unsanitary conditions, overcrowding and high ammonia levels caused by urine.

"The B.C. SPCA works closely with the many reputable rescue organizations that operate here in B.C. and we strongly support the work that they do," reads a statement from the SPCA.

"However, in cases where an individual or group causes or allows animals to be in distress, we have to ensure that these animals are protected and receive the care that they urgently need."

A person in a mask and a lab coat cuddles a small terrier dog.
The SPCA says many of the small dogs at the Mission home suffered psychological damage from mistreatment. (B.C. SPCA)

Eileen Drever, senior officer of protection and stakeholder relations for the SPCA, said there is little oversight of rescue organizations in the province.

"Anybody can start up a rescue," she told Michelle Eliot, host of CBC's B.C. Today. "I want to say that the majority of rescues, certainly here in British Columbia, are wonderful and we work with them.

"We support reputable rescues, but please make sure that you check out a rescue first and foremost ... if you're looking to adopt from one of them."

According to the SPCA, the dogs taken from the site were mainly small and medium sized, and included a variety of breeds.

A person wearing scrubs cuddles a small brown dog.
The SPCA says there is little oversight or regulation of those claiming to run rescue operations in B.C. (B.C. SPCA)

Drever said the SPCA can only seize dogs if they are "in distress," and that 20 dogs remain at the Mission home.

"We will continue to monitor the situation," she said. "I'm hoping this individual has learned a very hard lesson that anybody taking on an animal, we have to be responsible for them."

Drever said that when SPCA representatives visited the Mission home in the past, many of the dogs had been moved to different foster homes, and it was difficult to properly assess the situation.

"This individual has an opportunity to dispute the seizure," she said. "We will do everything in our power to ensure these animals don't go back."

The dogs that were seized were examined by veterinarians and are being taken care of at several different SPCA locations in the Lower Mainland, according to Drever. She said a lot of them were suffering psychological distress from mistreatment.

With files from Michelle Eliot