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B.C. woman loses SPCA court case after 4 horses, pig seized

Surrey Animal Control also seized plaintiff’s dog
Statue of Lady Justice at Vancouver Law Courts. (File photo)

A woman whose four horses and pig were seized by the SPCA under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has lost a court application to reverse an injunction that had earlier been granted to her that required the SPCA to maintain her animals until her appeal against their seizure to the Farm Industry Review Board was dealt with.

The court heard Felicia Allen was also evicted from the property where she kept the animals. The SPCA offered to return them to her if she followed a re-feeding program and reimbursed the SPCA for costs it incurred for caring for the animals since they were seized. Allen didn’t accept the offer and sought to appeal the seizure before the FIRB. She then withdrew her appeal and commenced an action in B.C. Supreme Court and sought an injunction that would require the SPCA to continue to maintain the horses and pig pending its disposition.

The injunction was granted subject to her paying to the SPCA the cost of providing the animals with food and boarding. Allen then sought leave to appeal the injunction and to have the financial terms stayed, but Justice Mary Newbury, of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia, dismissed Allen’s applications, finding she had shown “no arguable case” the judge had erred in his decision.

Newbury in her April 18 reasons for judgment noted that a special constable of the SPCA Animal Cruelty Department in February seized the horses and pig “on the basis that the animals were in distress” and in January, Surrey Animal Control seized her dog.

“Ms. Allen asserts that although her horses were lean, they were properly fed and cared for,” the judge added.

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The SPCA granted Allen an extension of time in which she could accept the terms of the return agreement but two days later she ought a further extension, Newbury noted, “stating that she had no place for the animals to be kept, since her landlord had removed all of her equipment and was evicting her from her previous premises.” Allen advised the court her action against the landlord is to be tried in court in October.

The judge noted that as long as the injunction remains in effect, Allen is required to pay the SPCA $139 per day in six instalments starting on April 21, when $695 was payable. “The last instalment is due on June 30, when $1,946 will be payable. The total amount payable up to June 30 will exceed $10,000. I understand the animals are being housed by third parties and the SPCA is paying the costs of boarding and food.”

Newbury noted that if Allen fails to pay any required instalment when its due the injunction will be “deemed to have lapsed,” and if she pays only a portion of the required funds, the society can “dispose of a number of animals pro-rated to the amount of money” Allen paid, at the rate of $32 per day per horse. “Ms. Allen will have no authority to direct that the Society dispose of any particular animal or in any particular order.”

Allen submitted she doesn’t have the money to care for the animals at this time.

Counsel for the SPCA argued that the interests of justice don’t favour granting leave to appeal, submitting that Allen’s goal is “…transparently aimed at having the [SPCA] house and feed the animals at its cost for some undefined time period,” that she has no place for the animals “has no intention of funding the costs of feeding and boarding them” and therefore it’s “decidedly not in the interests of justice to grant leave to appeal in the circumstances.”

Newbury said while she’s “not prepared to ascribe a malicious intention to Ms. Allen,” it wouldn’t be in the interests of justice to grant leave to appeal. “In an ideal world, animals could be cared for without draining of the resources of organizations such as the SPCA, but such is not reality,” Newbury concluded. “In my view, Ms. Allen’s argument that her affection for the four horses and one pig should effectively oblige the SPCA to bear the costs of maintaining the animals is simply not tenable.”

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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