Dangerous conditions for animals at SPCAs due to lack of accountability or regulations
In January of 2011, the Saskatchewan SPCA arrived at a home in Elrose, SK, knowing that the owner wasn’t home. They proceeded to remove all the animals living there, including a senior dog named Jasper. Their reasons for removing the animals, according to their court statement, were that they believed that the animals were in distress due to poor living conditions. The dog was found living in an outdoor enclosure, approximately 16′ x 24′, with walls and roof to keep the elements mostly out. There was a dog foam mattress, heated water dishes and clean straw for the dog and wild cats outside. The dog is a Malamute/Shepherd/Retriever cross and so was quite comfortable and used to being outside. His hair coat was trimmed to be shorter so as not to overheat in the house.
According to the SPCA vet’s testimony in February 2013, the dog was quite fearful when the SPCA officer broke down the back door to the dog’s enclosure. When the dog was taken to the SPCA shelter that evening, they weighed him at 103 lbs. For the next three weeks, he received no further vet assessment until later in February 2011. He was then deemed safe enough to approach and was given a clean bill of health from the vet. They believed the dog to be arthritic and started him on aspirin to ‘make him more comfortable.’ For the first three weeks of Jasper’s stay, staff kept him primarily in a small cage in an isolation ward. Court documents showed the dog was healthy, so the Court of Appeal in Regina ordered Jasper’s return to his owner. That was in April 2011. The court did not believe that the SPCA had sufficient grounds to remove Jasper in the first place.
What should have been a joyous reunion turned into heartbreak when it was discovered what sort of abuse the SPCA was capable of perpetrating. Jasper originally weighed 103 lbs. When he was returned, he weighed just over 50 lbs. According to extensive veterinary tests performed on the day of his release from the SPCA, Jasper was severely impacted in the bowels, had a severe urinary tract infection and was suffering from a bleeding ulcer from being force-fed aspirin.
Jasper was placed on five different drugs in the hopes of stopping further damage to his body and to relieve his pain. He was so traumatized from his experience that he refused, for the first few days, to go outside to urinate and suffers from nightmares still.
How does an organization like the SPCA allow a healthy animal in their care to suffer and deteriorate to such an extent? When animals are neglected in the SPCA, who can staff or the general public report it to? Why are SPCAs allowed to deal out this kind of abuse without any consequences? Is it not apparent that it is dangerous to the animals to allow the SPCA to police itself? They deem themselves a power unto themselves, above the laws they were set to uphold.
Until animal lovers everywhere demand that our governments protect our animals from unscrupulous shelters then this kind of abuse will go unpunished and unstopped. Countless more defenseless animals will suffer and die while some SPCAs will rake in large volumes of donations that the animals will never benefit from.