VERNON - Fourteen dogs and seven horses in conditions ranging from poor to life-threatening are in the care of the South Okanagan SPCA after investigators executed a search warrant at a Vernon hobby farm.
Senior animal protection officer Kathy Woodward says the dogs, including four puppies, were living in a pen with a dirt bottom, no shelter, no bedding and overall poor sanitation.
“When it rained it was all muddy and they had nowhere dry to go,” Woodward says.
Of the 14 surrendered dogs, there were two Rottweilers and 12 carlin pinschers. None of them were spayed or neutered. The horses, including three mares, three foals and a stallion, didn’t have adequate feed nor shelter to survive the winter. Some of the animals require intensive medical care, including surgery.
The owner, described as a breeder, was first visited by the SPCA roughly five weeks ago following a tip from the public and ordered to improve conditions on the property. At that time, Woodward says the woman had about 75 animals in her care, including chickens, ducks and rabbits.
“She had a much larger group of animals at our first attendance and she was making efforts to re-home them,” Woodward says. “She just could not continue caring for that number of animals with the resources she had and she recognized that.”
The owner willingly surrendered the remaining animals on Oct. 3 after multiple visits from SPCA officials and failing to comply with their orders. Three dogs, including one that belonged to someone else, were left in the woman’s care.
The SPCA is discussing whether animal cruelty charges will be pursued, but Woodward says it’s unlikely given the owner’s cooperation in surrendering the animals.
Corinne Ross, the branch manager at the South Okanagan/ Similkameen, says the animals are doing better now and will be going out for adoption soon.
“They’re going to need some special homes,” Ross says. “They’re quite fearful and haven’t been socialized to a lot of situations, but they’re really sweet, nice dogs.”
Once the dogs are spayed and neutered with a clean bill of health from the vet, they’ll be ready for new homes. The dogs were taken to the South Okanagan SPCA instead of the Vernon branch because the facility is better equipped to quarantine animals if they need it. Due to the added care and medical costs, the SPCA is appealing to the public for donations.
“If people aren’t in a position to help us by making an (adoption) application, anybody who would like to donate for our extra expenses, that would be amazing,” Ross says.
To report an animal in distress, contact the Animal Cruelty Reporting Hotline at 1-855-622-7722.
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