The owner of an animal rescue group that has had multiple animal seizures must pay the BC SPCA more than $81,000, says the B.C. Supreme Court.
On Sept. 5, the court rendered its verdict against Sandra Simans and her 1atatime Rescue Society.
In September 2016, the BC SPCA seized 88 animals, including dogs, cats, and farm animals from a former farm in Langley. The SPCA had been called in August about concerns for the animals and an SPCA constable Aug. 24.
In total, 45 dogs, 18 cats, 24 farm animals including goats, chickens, and ducks, and a turtle were removed from the home in the 5500 block of 216th Street.
Three animal carcasses were also found. Three animals were later euthanized due to their condition.
The 88 animals removed met the definition of distress under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the SPCA claimed.
A vet was on site to inspect the animals. The SPCA left three birds, a cat, and a rabbit.
Simans appealed for the return of her animals but the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board sided with the SPCA and she was ordered to pay more than $81,000 in costs for the animals’ care.
In March of 2017, the BC SPCA returned to Simans Langley property and seized 17 animals with a warrant.
BC SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk said the animals seized included a rabbit, four cats, a greyhound with a skin issue, and a Rhodesian ridgeback dog and her 10 puppies. The mother dog has mastitis, said Chortyk.
There were other animals on the property that were not seized, as they were not considered to be in distress, Chortyk said.
“I don’t take animal care lightly,” Simans said at the time.
She said the ridgeback didn’t have mastitis, and said the greyhound’s skin issue was a small patch of missing fur from a scrape.
In 2012, the SPCA seized 52 dogs and 19 cats from Simans’ Burnaby residence. Some of the animals were adopted out, but others were returned to Simans after she moved to Surrey.
Simans sued the SPCA. A judge found the seizure of the animals was justified, but awarded Simans $2,500 in damages for defamation, for a statement by SPCA officials implying she had caused harm to one dog, which she had been caring for after it came to her with a broken jaw.
In Simans application to the Supreme Court, she claimed the SPCA didn’t distinguish which animals belonged to her and which were the property of 1atatime.
Simans also argued the society’s entry onto her propert and the seizure of the animals was unreasonable under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Supreme Court rejected Simans’ arguments.
“The petitioners and the society [SPCA] have a contentious history, dating back at least as far as 2009, which centres on the Society’s attempts to address the petitioners’ perceived failure to provide adequate space, exercise, clean environment, and veterinary services for the animals in their care,” said Justice Anthony Saunders in his verdict. “The society emphasized the need for the petitioners to reduce the number of animals in their care so they could adequately provide for them and keep them from falling into a state of distress. On June 13, 2012, the Society seized 68 animals suffering from various physical ailments from the petitioners’ care. Those animals were eventually returned to the petitioners.
This week’s court ruling included elements from the farm review board which noted “the seized animals were in Ms. Simans’ care for at least a year and, in the majority of cases, many years before the seizure, and concluded that if they were returned to her they would again fall into a situation of distress. He [farm board representative] found that Ms. Simans was not capable or willing to relieve the animals of the distress from which they had begun to be rehabilitated while in the society’s care.”