SPCA seizes 40 'distressed' cats from rural property in northern B.C. | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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SPCA seizes 40 'distressed' cats from rural property in northern B.C.

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December 03, 2020 - 7:30 AM

A B.C. couple with a history of dealings with the B.C. SPCA has lost an appeal to have more than two dozen of 40 seized from their rural property returned to them.

The B.C. SPCA raided the northern B.C. property of seniors Karin Jensen and Kenneth Pearson, Sept. 16, and removed 40 cats. Following the seizure, 12 cats were immediately euthanized having been found in "critical distress."

According to a B.C. Farm Industry Review Board decision Nov. 23, the couple appealed to the B.C. SPCA to have the remaining 28 cats returned to them. 

However, the board refused to return the cats saying the couple had neither the "financial or emotional resources" to properly take care of the animals. The exact location of the property was redacted from the document.

"Cats brought onto that property are essentially condemned to a life of suffering," reads the decision.

Pearson, 70, and his partner, who is also a senior, have had several run-ins with the B.C. SPCA over the last decade.

The decision says SPCA records show a history of complaints about the couple who have had from 30 to 100 cats living at their rural acreage at certain times.

The couple lives in an R.V. on their property after they were forced to move from the house due to issues with mould. The decision describes the property as "being barricaded with vehicles and debris."

The B.C. Farm Industry Review Board does not say where the property is located but lists their local vet as a business in Vanderhoof, roughly 100 kilometres west of Prince George.

The decision says the couple had several conversations with the SPCA throughout 2020 and in the summer surrendered 19 cats to the organization. The SPCA offered to re-house the remaining animals provided the couple would not obtain any more cats.

However, no agreement was made and on Sept. 16 the B.C. SPCA raided the property.

A vet that testified at the hearing said there was lots of garbage at the property and no shelter for the cats. Many of the cats had puss in their eyes and 95 per cent were found to have feline immunodeficiency virus – a disease normally found in only two per cent of cats.

"All of the cats, in this case, were in distress based on the prevalence of the virus among the large cat population on the property," reads the decision.

"Most of the cats were underweight and their coats were matted," the decision says. "Cats normally like to groom themselves and keep clean... (but) their dental issues ... likely made it too painful for them to groom themselves."

The decision says it would have taken months for the cats’ teeth to break down and they would have been in "significant pain for that whole period of time."

In the decision, Jensen denied hoarding cats and said she often gave them away and had over the last 10 years surrendered around 100 cats to the SPCA. She said her health was poor after getting an infection following a hip replacement and she walked with two canes.

The decision says Pearson acknowledged the cats were sick and he was treating the cats for their illnesses.

"When a cat is running around and having fun, to me it is not euthanizable," Pearson said in the decision.

However, B.C. Farm Industry Review Board presiding member Dennis Lapierre says the property has a long history of being unsanitary and the cats were clearly ill and in distress.

The board found the couple couldn't properly take care of their cats even though they were emotionally tied to them and dismissed the couple's appeal to have the cats returned.

While the B.C. SPCA estimates it has incurred costs of roughly $50,000 in the matter, it did not seek an award for costs from the couple.

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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