A dog breeder had her world turned upside down last week when SPCA officials seized 71 dogs from her Merville property.
It’s as if the plague swept through Green Acres Kennels, says Nancy Kitching, who now has just six dogs and eight puppies.
“If I had 71 dogs that weren’t healthy, well, I’d be a monkey’s uncle,” she said. “I’m open to the public. I collect taxes, and try and be a good citizen.”
She said she was told her dogs were seized because they were stressed, hyper and needed vet care, among other reasons.
“They are going to paint it all different ways,” Kitching said.
The SPCA said the seized animals met the definition of distress under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act with a number of health concerns such as periodontal disease and untreated dermatitis. It also said the dogs had difficulty breathing through their noses due to a lack of ventilation.
“All of the dogs met the definition of distress and were removed from the property and provided with treatment,” said Marcie Moriarty, the BCSPCA’s general manager of cruelty investigations. “There were significant concerns. We don’t seize for the heck of it.”
Kitching said local SPCA officials seemed satisfied on previous visits. Last week, however, an SPCA special constable and RCMP attended.
She said a recent incident in Whistler where sled dogs were put down triggered a new animal cruelty law penned by the vet association.
“Dogs have evolved higher than people,” Kitching said, noting teeth-cleaning expenses and vet checks. “So I have to spend mega-money at the vet now.”
Kitching’s stock included English and French bulldogs, each worth thousands of dollars. She figures she lost at least $50,000 worth of dogs but would have to spend even more on lawyers and boarding fees to get them back.
So all she can do is cut her losses.
“It’s pretty corrupt,” said Kitching, who gradually built up her business while raising two children after moving to the property 24 years ago. “It’s like my whole life I’ve worked up to this point.”
For the time being, her main source of income is a widow’s pension.
“This isn’t a puppy mill. We’re devastated.”
The SPCA will adopt out the dogs.
“We always give the animal owner an opportunity, and that was done in this case,” said Moriarty, noting one puppy will be in a cast for several months due to deformity. “Unfortunately, these animals continued to suffer and thus were seized under the Act … definitely a sad case of these puppies and dogs being exploited.”