Beef cattle removed from a property near Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island last week by the BC SPCA rescued them from some of the worst conditions regional manager Kaley Pugh has ever seen.
But an investigation is ongoing into the animal’s care and whether or not criminal charges against the owner are warranted.
BC SPCA thinks so, noting that 216 animals, including 80 weaned calves, were seized after the owner failed to address issues related to shelter, nutrition and veterinary care.
“The animals were suffering from a wide range of issues and illness, including emaciation, lameness, eye infections, as well as pneumonia,” Pugh said in a press release.
BC SPCA says some of the animals were kept in areas “with up to knee-deep mud.”
Since the investigation is ongoing, BC SPCA communications manager Lorie Chortyk says Pugh is unable to provide details of the complaint that triggered the removal, or how much notice the owner was given before officers removed the herd.
“We are legally required to give the animal owner an opportunity to rectify the situation,” says Chortyk. “The timeline can range from ‘immediately’ to longer if the owner would reasonably require more time to fix the situation. … The timeline would be part of the details in the ongoing investigation.”
Given the scale of the operation, the BC Dairy Association was called to assist in arranging removal of the animals to a property for care.
The presence of significant mud on the property under investigation is not surprising given the significant precipitation Vancouver Island and southwestern BC experienced in November and December. However, industry codes of conduct for livestock require that producers prevent distress to animals.
BC Cattlemen’s Association is in touch with both the producer and the BC SPCA and hopes an investigation, independent of both the producer and the BC SPCA, will provide an accurate assessment of the circumstances.