On one of the hottest days of the year, Langley Animal Protection Society seized 16 emaciated and overheated dogs and rescued 12 cats in varying degrees of distress from a shed and van in rural Langley Wednesday afternoon.
The call came in about cats locked in an overheated shed on a North Otter farm, said Sarah Jones, executive director of LAPS. SPCA received the original call, but overloaded with cases they requested assistance from LAPS.
Animal control officers Haeley McKinney and Beth Potts were dispatched, accompanied by police and LAPS’ manager of animal control services Greg Wilhite. They arrived to find cats – all believed to be between one and four years old – living in what Jones described as deplorable conditions – all of them open-mouth panting due to the extreme heat.
It was so hot inside the building, which was about 10×20 feet and screwed shut, that officers instantly started sweating, Jones related.
“When we walked into the shed with the cats, we were overwhelmed by the heat and urine smell where all the cats were being housed. There was no air flow, and the litter boxes were overflowing,” McKinney said.
It was during their investigation that officers also found 12 dogs, stacked two to a kennel on top of each other, in a van parked on the rural property – the temperature inside reading 38.9° Celsius. Four more dogs were found inside the house.
“Once we saw the dogs that were housed in the van with temperatures dangerously high, we were extremely concerned about their welfare and well being,” said Potts.
“No human could sit in a vehicle at 38.9° for even five seconds without being overcome by the heat, let alone with a fur coat on,” Jones added.
The unlicenced Yorkie and Maltese mix dogs – including four puppies about four-months-old – were seized under municipal jurisdiction, and the owner surrendered 12 of 17 cats on the property. Five cats were held back by the owner, but the SPCA was on scene Friday, looking to possibly seize the remaining felines.
Upon closer examination of all the animals taken into care, they were all found to be in some state of distress, Jones elaborated. Several required immediate medical attention, and it’s still unclear if all will survive.
Medical evaluations by Dr. Adrian Walton revealed various serious concerns among the animals.
For instance, many of the dogs displayed severe dental issues, and animals were suffering from parasite-related conditions, including hair loss, sores, scabs and abrasions. The majority of the animals were very thin and underweight.
Jones elaborated, saying fleas were crawling all over the animals.
“I’ve never seen so many fleas in my life,” she said.
One of the dogs’ teeth were so bad that “the only reason that most of the teeth were still there was because the tartar was so thick it was acting like mortar keeping the teeth from falling out,” Walton explained.
One cat required immediate care, because it had a tattered collar on that had caused sores, wounds, and hair loss around her neck. And, a senior dog was found to have a mammary mass that may be related to overbreeding or cancer.
“LAPS’ goal is to support vulnerable animals and ensure every animal thrives in our community. The fact the dogs were living in small cages stacked on top of each other inside a van for an indefinite period is heartbreaking,” Jones said.
She said she is convinced this was likely a breeding operation.
“We can only imagine the stress [the animals] have been under, and how they have suffered from their medical conditions,” she said.
Despite everything the dogs had been through, she said they are “surprisingly not terrified” of people. She described some as scared, some shy, but all quite friendly – considering.
Initial assessments also suggest potential pregnancies among several female dogs and cats, with most of the animals intact.
The range of ages among the dogs, spanning from puppies to seniors, reflects the diverse group affected by the circumstances.
“Spending hours examining every animal and seeing the suffering they have endured makes us want to do more to help prevent these types of situations through our social service programs. The dogs were so sweet and did not deserve to be treated this way,” said Jones, who said she’s never been part of such a large seizure/surrender case before.
This was an unexpected and unprecedented case for LAPS, when already at capacity with unwanted animals, she added.
“These vulnerable dogs and cats may be with us for months while on their road to recovery. The financial extent to get these animals healthy so they can have the second chance they deserve will come at a steep cost that was not planned for,” she commented.
Anyone wishing to support their care, or that of other animals in the shelter, can consider donating to LAPS medical fund.
The investigation related to the condition of the animals is currently active and upon its conclusion all information will be provided to the BC SPCA for evaluation, to determine if charges can be recommended to Crown counsel.
“The welfare and rights of the animals remains our central focus, and Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) will continue to provide the necessary care and attention,” she said.
None of these animals is currently up for adoption while the investigation is still active.
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