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A man in the BC Interior who had more than a dozen dogs seized earlier this year will not be getting them back following a decision from the BC Farm Industry Review Board.
The board released its decisions after a hearing between the BC SPCA and Clearwater resident Kurtis Elliot, which was held on Feb. 23.
According to the decision, Elliot surrendered two adult dogs on Jan. 9 and another six adult dogs and seven puppies were seized the next day.
On Jan. 25, he submitted an appeal to have four of the dogs returned to him.
The review board rejected the appeal and further decided Elliot was liable for $7,608.48 claimed by the BC SPCA for the care of the dogs.
According to the report, one of the dogs, an adult female named Blue, was euthanized two weeks after she was seized.
Shortly after the seizure of all the dogs, the BC SPCA released details which included a senior officer of protection saying it was “one of the worst” cases she had seen in her 42 years with the society.
The report explains that an animal protection officer (APO) attended the property in early January after the BC SPCA received a couple complaints.
When the APO arrived, they were told that Elliot had started breeding the dogs during the COVID-19 pandemic “because the puppies ‘sold for good money.’”
Elliot admitted to feeling overwhelmed with the number of dogs and puppies in his care, states the 33-page report. He was also struggling to afford the amount of food due to its price in rural Clearwater.
“None of the dogs were socialized or trained to walk on a lead, He was, however, crate training them,” adds the report.
When the APO inspected the property and the dogs they found that “the dogs were all very underweight and had protruding ribs and hops. The two females, in particular, were extremely thin and emaciated and had protruding spines, necks, ribs and hip bones.”
The report indicates that Elliot allegedly said worms may be causing their thinness and one of the females needed to recover after having so many litters of puppies. The review board explains that she had litters in August 2021, March 2022 and October 2022.
“The pen’s ground was covered in ice and had a build-up of urine and feces. The dogs did not have suitable shelter nor did they have any food or water. The water in the bucket was frozen,” states the report.
The lengthy report detailed the conditions of the property, including details of the female dog named Blue. The APO claimed that they had never seen such a thin dog while a veterinarian said “Blue was the most emaciated dog she had ever seen in her 22 years as a vet.”
On Jan. 10, the APO returned to the property to follow up with enforced notices of care and to take two puppies that Elliot agreed to surrender. After further investigation, the society moved in to seize the rest of the dogs.
In making its decision, the review board stated: “The reckless disregard and horrific neglect shown by the Appellant in this case is extraordinary and beyond any previous experiences of this Panel. It is frankly unfathomable how anyone could starve a defenceless animal.”
As for the appeal, the review board said Elliot had not given the panel any confidence that he would care for the seized dogs.
“Second chances are available to those who are truly remorseful and show the necessary insight not to repeat their past failures,” states the report.
“The Appellant claims to have gained this appreciation of his mistake"s but the evidence and his conduct during the hearing demonstrates that he has not.”
Fortunately, the Kamloops BC SPCA has been providing semi-regular updates on the group of dogs with many of them coming up for adoption.