The B.C. SPCA returned dozens of animals taken from a Burnaby woman's home, after she was evicted for failing to pay months of rent.
The SPCA took 68 dogs and cats kept by Sandra Simans in a Burnaby rental property.
The City of Burnaby got involved because of the bylaw violations (keeping too many animals in a residential area) and contacted the SPCA on June 13 for help.
"This is a very sad case, where a rescue hoarder took in far more animals than she was capable of properly caring for," said Bob Busch, general manager of operations with the B.C. SPCA, in a press release.
"(Simans) contacted us to say she has found a landlord in Surrey, who will allow her to house some of the animals on his property, and we advised her that she can claim the animals at any time," Busch said.
The SPCA stated that many of the animals in Siman's care were extremely sick, injured, emaciated and not getting the proper vet care they needed.
"We feel badly for Ms. Simans as she clearly had good intentions, but the reality is that it is not in the animals' best interests to take them from one bad situation and allow them to continue suffering in a new situation," Busch said. "The dogs were kept in plastic crates and were clearly not getting the care they required. She was just overwhelmed."
The animals were taken to various SPCA shelters, including Burnaby. The SPCA agreed to return some of the dogs and cats because Simans, who runs a rescue organization called 1atatime, said she has found a new home for them. On Wednesday, the SPCA returned 57 dogs and cats. They adopted 10 animals out already, and one animal had to be euthanized for severe health and behavioural issues.The SPCA first issued orders on what care the animals need, to give Simans a chance to fix the problem. injured and emaciated.
"We have to give people the opportunity to remedy the situation before we can seek a warrant to remove (the animals)," said Lorie Chortyk, community relations manager with the B.C. SPCA. "If they haven't followed up, that's when we would proceed with taking the animals under warrants."
Because the animals were taken to the SPCA because of a bylaw issue, Simans can reclaim them.
"We're heartbroken we have to return them. We don't Animals Page 8 think this is the best thing for the animals, - but we have no options. But, we absolutely are following up with our cruelty investigators. I want to assure people we will do everything in our power to protect those animals. We're not giving up on them," Chortyk said.
Donna Liberson, who identified herself as a member of the Animal Rights Coalition, has stepped in to handle media calls for Simans.
According to Liberson, Simans was told to get a vehicle to move the animals, and when she left to do that, the animals were taken.
"She was evicted, but she did not abandon her animals," Liberson said. "When she went to get the truck, they rounded up the animals and took them."
According to Liberson, the SPCA, which is contracted by the City of Burnaby to handle pound services, broke the law by taking the animals.
"They were not seized because they weren't being cared for. They were seized because they were being abandoned, and they weren't. She was there," Liberson said. "This is a legitimate registered charity, and they've been operating for a long time."
Liberson maintains the SPCA "violated all the laws at the municipal level because they were acting as an agent of the municipality."
"The animals were not seized under the municipal bylaw for any other reason except there were too many and the dogs were unlicensed," Liberson said.
Liberson said the move was a "donation grab" by the SPCA, which then spreads word of the animals - abused, neglected and emaciated - to appeal to the public for donations.
As for the care the creatures were receiving, Liberson said that Simans took special needs animals, some blind or with chronic bowel disease. She suggested it was understandable they would have been in poor shape and that the SPCA would have euthanized them.
"To condemn an organization and a woman that spends all her time and energy caring for these little animals, it's unthinkable," Liberson said. "Instead, they are making out like she's a bad thing."
Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations with the B.C. SPCA, said the organization took the animals in accordance with the city's bylaw.
"We maintain that we adhered to the bylaw when those ani-mals were removed," she said. "(Simans) was permitted to have two dogs and four cats on the property."
These two dogs and four cats were taken for cruelty investigations, and the rest were seized for being over the maximum number of animals one is allowed to have, Moriarty explained.
"She's already received tickets, and she's already been warned, and we feel we acted in accordance with the bylaw," Moriarty said, adding the SPCA waived more than $10,000 in fees that Simans owed for care costs resulting from the seizure.