New SPCA facilities key to responding quickly to animal cruelty complaints

A record number of large-scale animal seizures in 2016 have highlighted the need for new BC SPCA facilities in the province.

“With support from our donors and a $5 million contribution from the Government of B.C., the BC SPCA launched a Facilities Development & Services Plan two years ago to replace or refurbish aging SPCA shelters in 12 B.C. communities,” says BC SPCA chief executive officer Craig Daniell. “The new facilities constructed in the first phase of the plan, including large animal adoption and recovery barns in Surrey and Kelowna and a specialized facility for seized cats in Surrey, played a critical role in our ability to act quickly in the unprecedented number of large-scale investigations we carried out last year.”

Nearly 500 animals in distress, including dogs and puppies, cats and kittens, horses and farm animals, were taken into custody through major investigations last year, including 66 dogs and puppies from a Langley puppy mill in February and 82 dogs and cats from a Surrey breeder the following month. “The SPCA is used to dealing with significant numbers of animals annually – more than 35,000 animals enter our shelters every year,” says Daniell. “But having 70 or 80 sick, injured and highly contagious animals come into care on the same day requires a very different level of response.”

Daniell said having modern facilities helps the SPCA activate the increased biosecurity protocols needed during large seizures to prevent the spread of disease. “Many of the animals rescued from puppy mills in 2016 were suffering from parvovirus, ringworm and other highly contagious and life-threatening illnesses,” he notes. “These animals have multiple and complex care needs and require specialized treatment and housing areas.  Our veterinarians provide detailed assessments of each animal so that emergency treatment can begin and medical information can be documented as evidence for animal cruelty charges. Once the animals have been assessed, individualized medical and behavioural plans are created to ensure staff and volunteers can provide the best support possible for each animal as they recover.”

Daniell says the new Facilities Development & Services Plan will be a huge boost for animal cruelty investigations moving forward.  “In addition to our large animal adoption and recovery barns in Surrey and Kelowna and our new Surrey cat centre, we have constructed a state-of-the-art Community Animal Centre in Nanaimo and are at an advanced stage of planning for new facilities in Kamloops, Castlegar and Dawson Creek,” he said.

The second phase of the capital plan will focus on new facilities in Prince George, Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, and the final phase will include new SPCA centres in Shuswap and Campbell River and refurbishments to the Kelowna, Surrey and Cowichan SPCA locations.

“We are extremely grateful to the Province of B.C. for their $5-million contribution to the initial phase of our capital plan and to all those who have supported our work,” says Daniell. “Having updated facilities that can accommodate large numbers of incoming animals is critical to the SPCA’s ability to respond quickly to the thousands of domestic, farm and wild animals who are victims of violence and abuse every year in B.C.”

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