The owner of over 200 cattle seized by the BC SPCA from a Vancouver Island farm has issued a statement disputing the decision and suggesting that adequate steps were being taken and the animals were properly cared for.
The BC SPCA seized 216 cattle from a property in Shawnigan Lake Jan. 19-20 due to the lack of care the cattle were receiving.
After neighbours alerted the SPCA to the situation on Goldstream Heights Drive, the organization executed a warrant Wednesday and returned Thursday morning to have veterinarians assess the animals.
In a statement to CHEK News, the organization said there were “significant concerns” with the animals’ feed, water, shelter, stocking density, veterinarian care, and footing — specifically, being kept in up to knee-deep mud.
“The owner has failed to relieve the animals’ distress,” the statement reads.
In an updated statement released last Friday, the BC SPCA added that the 216 seized cattle included approximately 80 weaned calves.
“Our officers were on site on Jan. 19 and 20 and finally cleared the property at 9:45 p.m. [Thursday] evening,” said Kaley Pugh, regional manager of cruelty investigations for the BC SPCA, calling the conditions the animals were living in “among the worst I’ve ever seen.”
This week, Russ Crawford — the owner of the cattle — issued a statement disputing the decision, claiming that the cows were being looked after and that a veterinarian recently approved the site.
“I also had Dr. Peter Watson from Agwest Veterinary there on January 10, 2022 for a site inspection and walkthrough of the herd,” Crawford said in a statement. “At that time he was happy with the facilities and recommend good quality hay, lots of access to feed and water which was always adhered to. I should also mention if he had any concerns that they would have been done immediately.”
Crawford said that he was contacted by the BC SPCA on Dec. 24 and the agency told him they were investigating a complaint about the cattle not being fed or watered — a complaint that Crawford calls “utter nonsense.”
Crawford said he requested the agency come to do a site visit any time between Dec. 28-30, but they didn’t show.
According to Crawford, he also sent the SPCA site drawings and pictures, while also requesting another visit from the agency on Jan. 10 — one they also didn’t attend due to weather.
Despite having a veterinarian approve the site conditions, the BC SPCA arrived on the property on Jan. 19 to begin seizing the cattle.
Crawford claims he asked multiple times for the organization’s notice of seizure and it was provided two days later after numerous requests.
“I have also requested the SPCA to allow us to do my own herd assessment with my vet and others that are involved in the industry and was denied as they are under their care, which is wrong in talking with the BC Cattleman‘s association,” stated Crawford.
“The public and media should know that these cattle were looked after and if the vet had any suggestions they would have been dealt with immediately.”
From Crawford’s view, he believes that action was taken as a result of a “matter between neighbours.”
He says the situation escalated due to a “personal vendetta to do whatever it takes” to have Crawford removed from the site and harmed financially.
He added that he has started a harassment file against his neighbours with the RCMP, referring to them as “ruthless.”
Crawford claims his intention for the cows was to ship them to an auction in Kamloops, scheduled on Dec. 1 but was unable to do so due to flooding and highway washouts.
He states that instead, he was aiming to sell the cows at the end of January and into early February.
The BC SPCA will be recommending charges against the owner to Crown counsel. The owner will have an opportunity to appeal the seizure as is the case with every investigation, it said.
The BC SPCA said it was “grateful” for the help of other individuals and organizations who assisted in the rescue, including the Malahat Fire Department, which deployed a water tanker truck to fill troughs, and the B.C. Dairy Association.