BC SPCA seizes 123 neglected animals in Fort St. James, 130 found dead in Vanderhoof – Smithers Interior News


Warning: This story contains details that may disturb readers.

The scene was grim for BC SPCA staff when they seized 123 neglected animals from a trailer in Fort St. James. According to the BC SPCA, a staggering 120 cats and three small dogs were taken from the property, where they were being kept in “dirty and unsafe conditions in a trailer.”

On June 9, residents reported seeing 5 SPCA trucks and vans at a trailer park in Fort St. James as personnel dressed in hazmat suits and respirators cleaned out a trailer. BC SPCA confirmed the incident in an interview on June 14.

In addition to the 123 animals on the Fort St. James property, 130 deceased cats were found in freezers behind a trailer where the same individuals had resided in Vanderhoof.

BC SPCA spokeswoman Lorie Chortyk said she believes those same people moved the animals to Fort St. James in order to evade SPCA officers after the dead cats were found. in Vanderhof.

Chortyk said this is an ongoing investigation and the BC SPCA will present evidence to Crown counsel who will decide whether charges are brought.

BC SPCA officers are sworn under police law and have the same enforcement powers that the police or RCMP would have in these situations.

Many animals recovered from Fort St. James were described as emaciated and suffering from upper respiratory tract infections, extreme flea infestations, urinary scald, eye infections, dental problems, ear mites and of injuries.

Staff reported that the entrance and hallway to the rooms were covered in layers of excrement and that the whole trailer was very hot and filled with an overwhelming smell of ammonia due to urine buildup. The sticky layer of feces and urine covering the floors was so thick that the shoe covers were stripped from the rescuers in just a few steps.

The majority of the cats hid in the kitchen cupboards, under the refrigerator and under the furniture in the sparsely decorated trailer. No water was present for any of the animals. Dry cat food had been strewn on the floor, but the food was contaminated with urine and feces.

Many of the cats seemed very hungry and approached the officer and immediately began eating the food offered to them. The animals also had difficulty breathing, as is often the case in these scenarios.

In addition to the cats, three Chihuahuas have been taken into care and are being treated for dental, hair loss and grooming issues, the BC SPCA said.

Chortyk said animal hoarding situations are “devastating for animals and people” because animal hoarding is considered a mental health issue.

“It’s very sad for the people, as well as for the animals. Our job as SPCAs is to make sure these animals are safe. But we cross-report with social service agencies because these people also need a lot of support,” Chortyk said.

“We try to be as compassionate and as neutral as possible for people as well as animals, but our first responsibility must be to remove the distress of these animals and ensure that they receive the help they need. .”

Often in cases of hoarding, animals are very afraid of humans and need care before they can be adopted.

“You have to modify their behavior a lot, work with them to socialize them until they feel comfortable around people because they’re used to being around animals, but there’s not a lot interaction with humans,” Chortyk said.

“We are so happy to have been called in time to save the remaining animals.”

Animal protection officers have seen an increase in large-scale cases like this in recent months, which Chortyk says puts a lot of pressure on our resources because our shelters are already very busy.

“On the day this particular seizure took place with 120 animals, there were maybe five other cases with large scale numbers,” she said.

“We are still getting a large number of these cases, but it seems to have increased this year.”

Chortyk speculates that with COVID, people might not have entered other people’s homes and that animal storage situations have gone unnoticed.

“These situations have developed and now that things are opening up a bit more, I think it’s more that these situations are getting public attention.”

Cats and dogs are cared for at SPCA shelters and will continue to receive ongoing veterinary care. Chortyk said you can also be part of their rescue by donating for their care.

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