North Okanagan woman guilty of animal cruelty still owes $60K to SPCA | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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North Okanagan woman guilty of animal cruelty still owes $60K to SPCA

In this file photo, crews are responding to a fire on Carla Christman's Irish Creek Road property, March 15
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Adam Proskiw

A North Okanagan woman recently put under house arrest after being convicted of animal cruelty was ordered to pay $60,000 in costs to the B.C. SPCA after they raided her property but has not made any payments.

Court documents show a judgement against Carla Christman for $60,067 in costs incurred by the B.C. SPCA after officers raided her Irish Creek Road property in March 2019 and removed over 50 animals.

However, court documents filed in November 2019 by the B.C. SPCA state it "abandons its claims to recoup costs of caring for the animals" even though an earlier decision states Christman had to pay up.

Christman was banned from owning animals for 10 years, with the exception of her four dogs, and sentenced to four months of house arrest, after she pled guilty to one charge of failing to provide necessities of life for her animals July 30. At the time of the sentencing, B.C. Provincial Court Judge Andrew Tam waived the victim surcharge fine "in light of Ms.Christman's financial circumstances." The judge did not disclose how much the fine would have been.

An earlier decision from the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board in May 2019, ordered Christman to pay $64,647 to cover veterinary costs, SPCA time, as well as housing, feeding and caring for the animals. The decision also stated Christman must pay $4,580 to the B.C. SPCA for the return of her four dogs. Christman paid the $4,580 and the court ruled she could have her dogs returned to her.

Following the payment for the dogs, the B.C. SPCA filed a Certificate of judgement for $60,067. It appears Christman has not paid any of the money back. As the Irish Creek Road is registered to her late father, putting a lien on the property would not be possible.

The events occurred after the B.C. SPCA made several visits to Christman's property in February 2019, and then raided the property in March 2019 and seized 42 horses, four pigs and four dogs. A veterinarian who took part in the seizures described the ranch as "the worst situation" she'd seen in 30 years. Pigs were found at the property eating the carcasses of horses.

"The fact that horses and pigs died of starvation and were simply left on this property cannot be ignored. Hazards and rotting carcasses remained on the property for months, shelter was lacking and inadequate for the number of horses especially weakened horses. All animals including the dogs were exposed to these hazards," reads the Farm Review Board decision.

Following the seizure, Christman appealed the Farm Industry Review Board decision to remove her animals and lost. The board ordered her to pay the $60,000 in costs associated with the animals.

Christman appealed again and sought a judicial review in B.C. Supreme Court. Christman argued the SPCA had no right to take her horses and that she was not liable for the costs as taking her horses was an "improper seizure."

In June 2019 Christman won an injunction which put a hold on the B.C. SPCA adopting out 28 horses for several months on the condition Christman paid the B.C. SPCA $12,000 per month to cover the organization's costs. Court documents filed in November 2019 state Christman didn't comply with the conditions and all the horses were adopted out.

In July 2019 the B.C. SPCA issued a press release appealing to the public for donations to cover $70,000 in costs associated with the seizure of Christman's horses.

The legal wranglings were, by then, the second round between Christman and the SPCA. In 2009 they seized 28 horses, 36 dogs, four cats and a pig from her property.

In that file, the SPCA did not pursue Christman for costs which were more than $150,000.

B.C. SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk said she wasn't in a position to comment on the issue. Christman could not be reached. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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