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B.C. woman loses appeal, nearly 100 animals and must pay $250K fine

Princeton dogs4
Some of the puppies seized from a Princeton property in September 2020 / BC SPCA

A Princeton woman has lost an appeal regarding animals in her care, meaning the BC SPCA will not return them and she owes the society more than $250,000 in associated bills.

In late September the BC SPCA, with peace officers, executed a search warrant on the property of Janet Foulds, east of Princeton, following a month of back-and-forth, according to a decision from the British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board (BC FIRB) member Tamara Leigh.

They seized 67 dogs and puppies, 27 horses and three cats.

In October a decision was levelled against Foulds in regards to returning the animals and the fees associated with their care, including veterinarian bills. She appealed that decision in November, which was heard and rejected by the BC FIRB.

As part of the hearing witnesses were called. In witness statements for the BC SPCA one veterinarian noted 28 puppies were being kept in an outdoor pen with no food or water visible and visible signs of malnutrition. Seven more puppies were being kept in a bathroom with no food and a toilet with human feces in it. Other dogs were found covered in their own feces. Many were found to be facing starvation. In the end 10 of the puppies died as a Parvo virus outbreak spread amongst the dogs.

"She said it was 'overwhelmingly clear that their basic needs were not being met in any way,'” notes the decision.

The 27 horses were also facing similar circumstances, with body conditions showing clear signs of starvation. One was observed eating feces. Another had a variety of injuries. One Appaloosa mare had to be euthanized.

One veterinarian noted seizing horses due to hunger issues in the fall is unusual because they have had the spring and summer to feed.

"She was concerned that these horses were going into winter and “would not have fared well at all.” She noted that the horses acted very hungry when they were fed by the society following the seizure, and that they demonstrated food protective behaviour," states the decision.

Foulds brought forward her own witnesses, but Leigh didn't give it much weight.

"I found much of the testimony from the appellant’s witnesses vague and superficial in nature, especially in light of the fact that my conclusion is that all the animals were in distress at the time seizure, and not at all helpful in deciding on the substantive issues of the future well-being of the animals in question," wrote Leigh.

It wasn't the first time Foulds had been in contact with the BC SPCA. The decision notes the society had received complaints about her property dating back to 2006. In 2015 more than 50 animals (dogs, cats and horses) were seized from a property of hers. Animal cruelty charges were recommended, but the Crown ran out of time to follow up.

Given the state of the animals and Foulds' history, Leigh decided it wasn't in the best interest of any of the animals to be returned to Foulds and upheld the $250,000 in costs to be paid.