Princeton artist who 'didn't believe in vets' has dog seized | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Princeton artist who 'didn't believe in vets' has dog seized

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A Princeton artist who said he "didn't believe in doctors" and ignored an order to take his underweight dog to the vet has lost an appeal to have the dog returned.

The dog owner, Kazumi Tanaka, argued he was a well thought of sculptor and knew how to look after a dog, According to a B.C. Farm Industry Review Board decision, published Sept. 14.

However, the review board felt differently and ruled against Tanaka in his appeal to get the animal back.

The B.C. SPCA first received calls concerned about Tanaka's dog, Gus, in early 2022, according to the decision.

A B.C. SPCA officer called in but concluded Gus was OK.

More calls followed over the months and in June 2022 the B.C. SPCA told Tanaka he needed to take steps to relieve the dog's distress.

The B.C. SPCA told Tanaka that Gus needed to be on a gastrointestinal-friendly diet and to be dewormed because the dog was very skinny.

A week later the officer returned and found modest improvements to Gus' shelter but again told Tanaka he needed to see a vet.

Shortly afterward Tanaka took the dog to the vet but it appeared didn't have Gus dewormed or changed his diet.

The decision says Tanaka told the B.C. SPCA he "did not believe in doctors."

However, the B.C. SPCA ordered Tanaka to take Gus to the vet as he needed deworming to stop ongoing diarrhea.

A week or so later, the officer returned to find that Gus had still not been to the vet, was tied up with a short black ratchet leash, had water, but no shelter.

Gus was then seized and taken into the care of the B.C. SPCA.

Tanaka then appealed to get the dog back.

In his appeal, Tanaka argued he was a "sculptor of some considerable reputation" and was "capable of learning how to take care of a dog."

He denied Gus was in distress when he was seized and that the vet had said Gus was "skinny, but healthy."

Tanaka said Gus had escaped nine times and he was using a piece of rope two-to-three metres in length to tie him up.

He said he walked the dog for 15 to 30 minutes in the morning and then took Gus to the dog park at 5 p.m. daily.

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According to the decision Tanaka is in his seventies and had not owned a dog since he was a child.

Tanaka admitted that he leaves the dog tied up all day while he is at work in his studio but can see Gus across the laneway.

The sculptor said he was skeptical about the vet's diagnosis and that in Canada "animals have rights and human rights are diminishing."

When questioned whether he understood that Gus was underweight and needed monitoring, he said he didn't "believe in vets" and reiterated his point that Gus was "healthy, but thin."

The B.C. SPCA testified that at the time of the seizure Gus was tethered to a staircase with a three- to four-foot leash and Tanaka failed to have the dog reweighted or dewormed even though the vet's clinic was a two-minute walk away.

The officer said there was not adequate shelter and a bag of dog food had been torn open and left next to the dog.

The B.C. SPCA said that Gus was in distress due to "inadequate veterinary treatment."

The society said it had "no confidence" Tanaka would recognize health issues that Gus might have if he was given back.

A Penticton vet testified that Gus had a body score of three out of nine and that more needed to be done to diagnose why the dog wasn't putting on weight.

Tanaka argued that Gus should never have been "confiscated."

The Review Board didn't agree and Tanaka had not demonstrated that he would make the necessary changes if the dog was returned.

"While he may have learned something about care of a dog, he does not respect expert veterinary advice and has on several occasions refused direction even when legally ordered by the Society’s officers to take the animal to a clinic," the board said. "It would be irresponsible for the Society or this Panel to release the animal except into a home with the capacity to recognize symptoms and the ability to provide the veterinarian care required."

Ultimately, the board refused to give Gus back and issued costs to Tanaka of $4,526.

READ MORE: Homeless Kootenay woman who left cats in 45C tent loses appeal


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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