Carrie Daviduk says for the first time in months, her rural Ladysmith farm feels peaceful again.
“It’s been very hard to watch this happen, as we have an animal rescue right next door and we take great care of our animals. So while we would be feeding our animals, theirs would be screaming and crying and trying to get to the food. It’s heartbreaking,” Daviduk told CHEK News.
On Tuesday, the BC SPCA executed a search warrant on the rural property next to Daviduk’s and made what officials called “a large seizure of animals.”
“It’s an investigation involving many, many animals of different species,” said BC SPCA senior officer protection & stakeholder relations, Eileen Drever.
It was part of an investigation that officials say progressed quickly. In August, a month after renters moved into the farm near the Nanaimo Airport, Daviduk and fellow neighbours began photographing animals that they allege were emaciated and unwell, including goats, calves, chickens, ducks and litters of dogs.
Neighbours then sent their photos to the BC SPCA.
The SPCA says its officers attended in August and determined animals were in distress, so the owners were given notice and time to rectify the situation. Since then, new concerns have been reported and on Tuesday officers attended again with a search warrant and made the seizures.
“They are under veterinary care at the moment,” said Drever. “If the animals were in good condition and living in adequate conditions they would not have been removed.”
Owners dispute allegations
The SPCA won’t reveal how many animals were seized, but the property manager for the rural rental told CHEK News he estimates over 200 animals were living on site, but that none of what he saw warranted eviction.
In a statement issued to CHEK News, the tenants – who we are not identifying because charges haven’t been laid – insist their animals were all being fed, and they were in the process of building shelters.
“It’s not something that can be fixed in a month or two. This is something that takes months of hard work,” stated the tenant in a letter to CHEK News.
The family also shared photos with CHEK News saying they love their animals and that their young daughter says she’s afraid to come home now because the people who took her animals might come back.
Yet, in this rural Ladysmith neighbourhood, there is relief that animals that once filled these pens are now with the SPCA.
“I appreciate neighbours contacting us. If it wasn’t for the neighbours we wouldn’t know about this,” said Drever.
The animals’ owners are appealing the seizures. No charges have been laid but the matter is under active investigation.