British Columbia

B.C. SPCA seizes 15 starving dogs from Clearwater breeder

Animal protection officers with the B.C. SPCA seized 13 starving dogs from a breeder in Clearwater, B.C., on Tuesday, a day after two adult dogs from the same property were surrendered to their custody.

'They're walking skeletons,' says protection officer with SPCA

A group of ten-week-old puppies crowd around the feet of an SPCA protection officer.
The B.C. SPCA says some of the 15 dogs it rescued from a neglectful breeder in Clearwater were 10-week-old puppies. All the animals were treated by veterinarians and are now being cared for by SPCA staff. (B.C. SPCA)

Animal protection officers with the B.C. SPCA seized 13 starving dogs from a breeder in Clearwater, B.C., about 125 kilometres north of Kamloops on Tuesday — a day after two other adult dogs in similar condition were surrendered from the same property.

"The condition of these animals was just horrific," said the animal welfare organization in a statement, adding that the individual was breeding Cane Corso-type puppies and selling them for profit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eileen Drever, the organization's senior officer for protection and stakeholder relations, says it's one of the worst cases of animal cruelty she's seen in decades.

"They're walking skeletons," Drever said in an interview. "I've never, ever seen, in my 42-year career, a dog so painfully thin."

Three extremely emaciated dogs stand next to a door with a grill in it.
Three of the dogs from Clearwater, B.C., are pictured while being rescued by animal protection officers. The B.C. SPCA says it seized 15 Cane Corso-type dogs and will be recommending charges of animal cruelty to Crown counsel. (B.C. SPCA)

Drever says some of the dogs were left in sub-zero temperatures with no food, no fat on their bodies and no way to keep warm.

"Their water dishes were frozen over. They were living among feces," she said, adding that a few of the animals were eating whatever was around — including their own excrement and blankets.

The SPCA says a group 10-week-old puppies were kept indoors in a wire crate but had no access to food.

The rest of the dogs were held in outdoor pens, which were filled with compact snow and ice, without a dry place for them to lie down.

Drever says the B.C SPCA is continuing its investigation and will "most definitely" recommend charges of animal cruelty to Crown counsel.

'Keeping my fingers crossed that they pull through this'

The dogs were immediately brought to a veterinarian for treatment and will remain in the care of the SPCA with staff doing everything they can to nurse them back to health.

Drever says SPCA employees have adjusted their schedules to be able to stay with the dogs that require around-the-clock care and feed them small amounts of food at a time.

Three extremely emaciated dogs are seen standing in a fenced backyard on top of a thin layer of ice.
The B.C. SPCA says some of the adult dogs rescued from a breeder in Clearwater were left outside in sub-zero temperatures with no food, and water dishes that were frozen over. (B.C. SPCA)

On top of the animals' medical needs, she says many of them are fearful, not socialized and will require behavioural and emotional support once they heal physically.

"I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that they pull through this," said Drever. 

"It breaks my heart thinking how long these dogs must have suffered."

Drever says she's angry that a breeder would neglect their responsibility to care for their animals, and anyone who's overwhelmed or struggling to keep up with providing care shouldn't hesitate to reach out to the B.C. SPCA.

She adds that anyone looking to buy a new puppy should also carefully consider where the animal is coming from, who its parents are and who's responsible for breeding them.

"If you're looking to purchase a dog and you don't want to adopt, do your homework," she said.

"I'm so sick of animals being used to make money."


Josh Grant is a CBC News reporter based in Vancouver, British Columbia. He previously worked for CBC in Montreal and Quebec City and for the Nation magazine serving the Cree communities of Northern Quebec. You can reach him at

With files from Marcella Bernardo