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Couple face cruelty charges after 177 animals seized

Couple face cruelty charges

A former Ladysmith couple face nine animal cruelty charges and a nearly $90,000 fine after the SPCA seized 177 animals said to be in distress from their property.

Neighbours reported the couple to the SPCA last summer, saying they watched dogs, cats, goats and chickens on the property become emaciated while the number of animals grew to the hundreds.

The SPCA took custody of 177 animals in two seizures on Oct. 31 and Nov. 16. The animals included dogs, cats, goats, chickens, snakes, ducks, quail, rats and a rabbit.

The seizures were among the largest ever by the SPCA in B.C., said Eileen Drever, senior officer of protection and stakeholder relations. The SPCA recommended charges and it was up to Crown prosecutors to decide whether to approve them. “We’re happy to see that they’ve accepted charges,” Drever said.

Online court records show the couple have been charged with nine counts of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal. The couple appealed for the return of 59 of their animals following the seizures, as well as offspring of the goats that were born while in the SPCA’s custody. In a decision this year under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, a panel was satisfied the animals seized were in distress, with the exception of two snakes.

The SPCA made several scheduled visits to the property in response to calls to their animal helpline reporting underweight and lethargic animals. They determined the animals were of an adequate weight, active and alert, the decision says.

A veterinarian who visited the property at the request of the couple last September found one-third of the 31 goats were very thin, one-third were borderline and the rest were fine. He said the feed provided was of poor quality and the goats were overcrowded, and he recommended increasing the quantity and quality of hay given to the goats and better feed.

On a subsequent visit, the SPCA advised the couple to reduce the number of animals to improve their capacity to provide adequate care and said more shelters were needed to protect animals from weather.

The next month, SPCA staff visited unannounced. A staff report alleged that: free-roaming chickens had limited access to the chicken building, which had wet, dirty bedding, and there was an accumulation of feces on perches; no water or feed was available; the outbuilding for the quail and meat chickens was in a similar condition, with no food or water available; a dog tethered outside and rabbits also had no water, and one rabbit was found dead under a pen.

The owners were told they were under investigation for animal cruelty.

Following a call from a veterinarian who had treated a pregnant dog and believed it needed more care than the owners were providing, the SPCA executed the first seizure of animals, followed by the second two weeks later.

The panel ordered the SPCA to return two snakes to the couple in exchange for a payment of $1,280 within six days of the decision to cover the cost of the snakes’ care. The payment was not made and the snakes were sent to new homes, Drever said.

The majority of the animals seized have new homes, she said. Anyone interested in adopting from the SPCA can visit adopt.spca.bc.ca/.

Marley Daviduk, who lives on a family farm next door to the property on Adshead Road, said she was hopeful after learning the couple faced criminal charges. The couple left the property a few months ago, but the experience was traumatizing, Daviduk said.

“Having to look them in the eyes when we were feeding our own animals, they would literally be trying to climb the fence to access food,” she said.

Daviduk is grateful to the SPCA for taking the complaints seriously and for taking action to protect the animals.

Tanisha Kendall and Rhees Kendall face nine counts of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal and are scheduled for a court appearance in Duncan on May 28.

Tanisha Kendall said in a message they deny the allegations that animals were mistreated and they will fight the charges in court.

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