WARNING: This story contains photos that readers may find disturbing.
One BC SPCA staff member described it as one of the worst cases of animal starvation they’ve ever seen after animal protection officers seized 13 Cane Corso dogs from an individual in Clearwater Jan. 11.
“The condition of these animals was just horrific – many of them were extremely emaciated,” says Eileen Drever, senior officer, protection and stakeholder relations for the BC SPCA. “It was one of the worst cases I have seen in my 42 years with the BC SPCA.”
In total, SPCA animal protection officers removed seven 10-week-old puppies and eight dogs under the age of three years. Three of the dogs remain under intensive veterinary care due to their emaciated state.
BC SPCA note the individual was breeding and selling puppies for profit during COVID. Two more emaciated adult dogs on the property were surrendered into BC SPCA custody the day before the seizure.
Kurtis Elliot reached out to the Clearwater Times, identifying himself as the owner of the dogs.
He said he is very remorseful of the condition of some of the dogs, particularly the two adults he surrendered. He is thankful to the SPCA for taking them and wishes it hadn’t gotten to that point.
“I asked for help when they came,” he said of when the SPCA arrived at his home.
“I feel very remorseful and I feel disgusted in myself letting it go this long.”
Elliot said he purchased the breeding pair three years ago and was selling puppies during COVID when the demand was high. More recently, however, the market for puppies had fallen off and that left the owner with more bills in dog food than he could manage.
He maintains he was feeding the dogs, but that it wasn’t enough for all the animals. He said he did have blankets and secured pens for them.
The dogs have since been given medical treatment and are now in the care of the BC SPCA.
“In addition to their medical needs, which will likely be significant due to their starvation, many of the dogs are extremely fearful and unsocialized and will need on-going behavioural support before they are emotionally and psychologically healed,” says Drever.
The investigation continues and charges of animal cruelty are being recommended to Crown counsel in the case.
“We are so relieved that they are now warm and safe in our care and getting the nutrition and medical help they urgently need,” said Drever.
Mayor Merlin Blackwell said this week he’d like to see a pet food bank program developed in Clearwater for those in need.