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BC woman loses appeal to have 63 dogs returned following SPCA seizure

A BC woman who had more than five dozen dogs seized earlier this year will not be getting them back following a decision from the BC Farm Industry Review Board.

On Jan. 4, the BC SPCA seized 63 dogs “suffering from a range of medical and behavioural welfare concerns” from a reported dog rescue in Mission. At the time, 19 dogs remained at the property.

According to the report, the BC SPCA said the dogs were kept in confined and unsanitary conditions.

When the SPCA attended the property to seize the dogs, they noted the “strong smell of ammonia, dogs appearing unwell, dogs inappropriately matched and up to 75 dogs living in the property where there was structural damage due to dogs chewing walls, animal waste and holes in the floor.”

The review board says Cherry Latour, 74, has operated Dogway Dog Rescue since 1993 and has been registered as a society in 2011.

The lengthy 31-page report details Latour’s “long-document” history of interactions with the SPCA, Fraser Valley Regional District and City of Mission. In addition, the report contains dozens of complaints and the testimony of six witnesses.

<who> Photo Credit: BC SPCA

Latour filed her appeal on Jan. 31 and a three-person panel heard the appeal via video conference on March 1 and March 2.

Latour argued that she had been rescuing dogs since the early 1990s, adopted out over 4,000 dogs and experienced an increase in dogs because people were reportedly dropping off dogs at her driveway during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She argued that the dogs were not neglected, had all been to a vet and were treated regularly for things such as fleas or kennel cough.

Although Latour said the dogs were being taken care of and submitted testimonies from supporters and evidence that improvements had been made to the property to ensure the animals' care, the review board rejected her appeal.

“However, the panel finds that her efforts have not been sufficient to warrant the return of the animals,” states the report.

“It is clear from the evidence, and in particular the evidence of the expert witnesses, that both medically and behaviourally, all of the animals suffered to varying degrees behaviourally and many were in need of medical treatment at the time of the seizure.”

In addition, the review panel said she was liable to the SPCA for $75,392.71 for the costs of veterinary costs, time to attend the seizure, housing, feeding and caring for the animals.

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