BC SPCA sets record straight on 119 surrendered dogs

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The BC SPCA is following all necessary steps in the case of 119 dogs being surrendered t…

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The BC SPCA is following all necessary steps in the case of 119 dogs being surrendered to the organization, according to communications general manager Lorie Chortyk.

A story about Mandy Rowsell’s experience with the case has created lots of discussion about the accuracy of the information released from the SPCA.

The organization has been given the monumental task of caring for these dogs, and Chortyk wants to set the record straight.

“The staff, who have been working around the clock, have just been overwhelmed. They’ve been quite discouraged by a lot of the online comments and the misinformation that’s out there,” says Chortyk.

Last week, members of the BC SPCA, RCMP, and fire department were called to a home near Fort Nelson. Once there, they removed 119 dogs from a property.

As was stated in the SPCA release Monday, the owner of the dogs willingly surrendered them to members of the SPCA. According to Rowsell, they were not willingly surrendered, but Chortyk says there was a reason for the choice of words.

“The two ways that we can remove animals if there are concerns is, one, we work with the individual, and they willingly do that, or if someone doesn’t want to surrender an animal, then we get a warrant, and we can remove them.”

In the previous story, Rowsell stated she contacted the RCMP. Chortyk says that call would have gone from the RCMP to the animal cruelty hotline and on to the constable.

“The call went to our constable in the area, and she contacted the owner of the animals, who indicated they wanted to surrender the animals. So that’s how we came onto the property, they asked us to come and take the animals, but all 119 were legally surrendered to us.”

In the release, no charges were mentioned. Chortyk explains this is standard procedure when more information is required.

“It says we weren’t recommending charges at the time because when an investigation is still open, no decisions are ever made until the end. So we’re still monitoring that situation; we’re still gathering information.”

Comments on the story have suggested this isn’t the first time dogs have been removed from this property or this individual.

“This is the first time that we have been contacted, but that’s part of the gathering of facts. [We find out] what other agencies in the area have already dealt with certain individuals; that is part of the process. That doesn’t mean that the RCMP hasn’t been called or others. If people do have new information, we do have a hotline that they can call and pass that on, and that will all go into the file.”

The BC SPCA has a cruelty investigations department that handles these cases.

“Our constables are constables under the police act. [They have the same authorities of enforcement as] Police and RCMP. They enforce the prevention of cruelty to animals act and the sections of the criminal code related to animal cruelty. They’re very specific specialists in those areas of the law, so we will continue that investigation.”

Despite the difficult situation the organization is in, Chortyk is appreciative of all the support.

“We just want to thank everyone so much who has been very supportive and compassionate, and realizing that these teams had an overwhelming task. People have been so amazingly supportive, and we really, really appreciate it.”

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