On January 13, 2015, the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Alberta SPCA) completed the largest removal of dogs into protective custody in its history. In total, the Alberta SPCA removed 201 dogs from a property near Milk River, Alberta.
The removal happened in two stages. On December 23, 2014, the dog owner had voluntarily surrendered 60 dogs to the Alberta SPCA. During the second operation on January 13, 2015, five Alberta SPCA peace officers, a veterinarian and two members of a southern Alberta animal rescue society removed an additional 141 dogs from the property. The dogs were malnourished, dehydrated and lacking sufficient shelter from the winter conditions.
“By convincing the owner to voluntarily surrender those first 60 dogs, the Alberta SPCA could immediately transfer ownership to animal adoption organizations in southern Alberta,” says Roland Lines, the Alberta SPCA’s communications manager.
When they removed the first 60 dogs, the Alberta SPCA peace officers had estimated it was about half the total number at the property. But when they returned with the authority to conduct a thorough search of the property, they discovered scores more dogs hiding inside and under various trailers and outbuildings.
“Because the second visit involved the removal of animals under a search warrant, the Alberta SPCA must hold the dogs for 10 days to allow the owner time to apply for their return,” said Lines. “At a minimum, the owner would be required to pay for the costs associated with removing and boarding the dogs and providing veterinary treatments.”
Because of the large number of dogs involved, the Alberta SPCA enlisted the help of numerous animal care facilities across the province to hold and care for the dogs during the legally mandated period. The 10-day hold ended on January 24, 2015.
“The dogs were assessed and treated during the hold period,” said Lines. “The owner was unsuccessful in reclaiming them by the end of 10 days, so the Alberta SPCA transferred ownership to the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) on January 25, 2015. AARCS can now find new, loving homes for the dogs.”
An Alberta SPCA peace officer first attended the location earlier in December 2014 after receiving a report about concerns for the welfare of the dogs. The Alberta SPCA’s investigation into the situation is ongoing.
The Alberta SPCA is a registered charity dedicated to the welfare of animals. Alberta SPCA peace officers have the authority to enforce Alberta’s Animal Protection Act. Call 1-800-455-9003 to report suspected animal neglect or abuse outside Edmonton and Calgary.
How can you help?
As well as AARCS other rescue groups have offered to help out with accommodation and care. Lethbridge and Calgary Humane Societies, Red Deer SPCA, Klassic Kennels, HART, Hope Lives Here Animal Rescue, Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, Pawsitive Match, Zoe’s Animal Rescue and Heaven Can Wait have all taken on the care and rehabilitation of the dogs rescued from the horrid conditions they were found in. If you wish to help any of the organizations they are looking for funds, food, cleaning supplies and bedding.