A total of 35 adult dogs seized from a Williams Lake area man in 2018 were eventually euthanized, the BCSPCA has confirmed.
In February 2018, the BCSPCA announced they had seized 46 dogs from a property north of Williams Lake due to concerns of neglect, undersocialization and distress.
Terry Baker, who owned the dogs, was later charged with two counts of animal cruelty in July 2018.
In a press release about the charges issued by the BCSPCS in July 2018, Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the BCSPCA said veterinary and behavioural staff worked with the dogs hourly to help them adjust to everyday sights and sounds.
“This was a very intensive undertaking involving hundreds of staff and volunteer hours,” she said. “Of the 46 dogs, only eight remain in BC SPCA care. The fact that the majority of the dogs have responded to the behaviour modification to the point that we were able to adopt them into new homes is quite incredible, given the condition they were in when they were seized.”
When the Tribune followed up on the state of the seized dogs in December 2018, BC SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk replied in an e-mail “they were transferred to several different SPCA shelters for rehabilitation and have all been adopted into new homes.”
During the sentencing of Baker in Williams Lake Provincial Court Tuesday, Sept. 17, Baker, who was representing himself, and Crown Counsel both said they learned that 35 of the adult dogs had been euthanized.
Baker was upset and said he could not believe they had been “killed.”
This information prompted the Tribune to contact Chortyk for clarification.
“I double-checked with the head of our cruelty investigations department for the province,” Chortyk said in an e-mail. “She confirmed that the dogs were undergoing behaviour modification after the seizure in the hopes that they could be rehabilitated and would be able to be adopted into homes. We had to take 87 dogs in distress in total from Mr. Baker (including that one seizure of 46 animals) and out of those we were able to rehabilitate and adopt out 52 dogs. Unfortunately, despite extensive rehabilitation efforts under the guidance of our veterinary behaviourist, the other 35 adult dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans and their surroundings. Under those circumstances we had to make the most humane decision for them to relieve their psychological suffering.”
When asked if Chortyk could say when the dogs were euthanized, she responded that she could not because she did not have access the confidential cruelty investigation files, but that it was well after the seizure and they were not all at once.
“Euthanasia is always a last option for us so if an animal was showing any promise of improvement we would have kept working with them … all animals who could have been rehabilitated were, and were adopted out.”
Baker pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of failure to protect the animals from distress and the failing to obey a previous prohibition of owning more than 10 dogs at once that had been imposed on him in December 2017.
He received a five-year prohibition for the first count and a three-year prohibition on the second count, for an aggregated prohibition from owning, caring for or possessing more than one dog.