Thompson pit bull owners fail in appeal to have 9 dogs returned | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Thompson pit bull owners fail in appeal to have 9 dogs returned

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A  pair of North Thompson dog owners have failed in an appeal to have their nine pit bulls returned after the dogs were seized by the B.C. SPCA, having been found tethered to a rope in -30 Celsius weather.

According to a Mar. 7 B.C. Farm Industry Review Board decision, the nine pit bulls were seized from a property in Clearwater following a complaint about the state of the dogs.

After the dogs were seized Dec. 30, 2021, the owners Christopher Pratt and Kevin Rauch applied to have the dogs returned.

The decision says on Dec. 23, 2021, an ambulance was called to the Clearwater property because Pratt had a suspected heart attack.

It was a paramedic who saw the dogs tethered outside to small dog houses in -20 C weather and alerted the SPCA.

B.C. SPCA staff visited the property a week later and found the nine pit bulls tethered to chains attached to individual dog houses.

"The dogs appeared cold, were shivering and paw lifting, and had no access to food or water. Some of the dogs were licking frozen water in their metal bowls," the decision reads.

The B.C. SPCA issued a written warning to the property's owner, Stephanie Briscoe, along with Pratt and said the dogs had to be given water and food within one hour, and shelter from the cold within four hours.

The B.C. SPCA returned the next day.

"There were nine pit-bull type dogs tethered outside, each attached by a length of metal chain to a doghouse that was stuffed with straw," the decision says. "The ground was covered with snow. Some dogs had stainless-steel bowls of frozen water. All were shivering, most were paw lifting, and some were attempting to drink water from the frozen bowls. No food was present."

The decision says it was -30 C on the day of the seizure with the temperature inside the dog houses -19 C and -21 C.

The decision says when the SPCA told Briscoe the dogs would be receiving veterinary care, she replied "please don't... I can't afford it."

Briscoe was offered to surrender the dogs – meaning she would not have to pay vets bills – but she declined.

The dogs were then seized and taken to the Aberdeen Veterinary Hospital in Kamloops.

Much of the decision is given over to addressing who actually owned the dogs.

The decision says Rauch was found to own eight of the dogs but was living in Kamloops after having had a serious car accident.

Pratt was found to own one of the dogs, and Briscoe, although she owned the land and represented both men during the appeal, didn't own the dogs.

Pratt testified that he walked the dogs every three days, but the SPCA deputed this saying there were no tracks in the snow when they visited the property and presented evidence saying it hadn't snowed in 10 days.

The decision says Rauch, who owned most of the dogs, didn't testify during the appeal because he'd fallen asleep during the hearing.

All three dispute that the dogs were in distress.

The Review Board disagreed.

"All of the relevant evidence demonstrates that pit bulls cannot be left out in sub-zero temperatures for extended periods of time without being in distress," the Board ruled. "The Appellants have provided no real evidence to the contrary, they have simply suggested that the temperature wasn’t actually that cold or that the society should have resolved the issue for them."

"The poor living conditions of these animals has had a negative impact on their health... this breed of dog, with its light, single hair coat, would be uncomfortable at temperatures below freezing. All of the animals were dehydrated and suffering from hair loss. Two had frostbite lesions and all had skin infections between the digits of their paws, indicating that they had been left outside with wet paws for long periods of time," the Board ruled.

The Board refused to give the dogs back and order Rauch, who owned eight of the dogs, to pay $11,816 to cover seizure and vet bills and Pratt, who owned one dog to pay $1,477.

READ MORE: B.C. SPCA seizes homeless dog, but owner still homeless

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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