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Animal Advocates Society of BC
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North Vancouver, BC, Canada

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AAS spent five years investigating and documenting the things that people had been complaining of for fifty years and published them in this web site
. Twice the SPCA used expensive lawyers to try to silence us.


Fifty some odd northern mixed-breed dogs tied to trees, neglected and desocialized for years. One group in Topaz Creek BC, one in Beaverdell BC. Two remarkably similar situations, handled by two remarkably different organizations with radically different strategies and outcomes. Scientists themselves couldn't have created two better control groups.
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Click on her picture to make a donation so that we can go on helping chained dogs like we helped her. Read her story here

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Hope BC -The SPCA seizes animals from Gwen Wilson     January 2006


Makeshift cat shelter raided by SPCA

The Hope Standard

February 2, 2006

Gwen Wilson stands with her animals, including her long time goat and her dog Sheamus. Gwen is facing possible charges of cruelty to animals after the SPCA seized one dog and 75 cats from her property in Floods (on January 13, 2006). The cats had all been either given to her by people who had found them dumped at their door or abandoned at Gwen's gate.  “I love my animals, I love them all dearly and I know that I did get overwhelmed with the cats. But, looking back I don’t know what I could have done differently and now I have lost Dakota… unless I come up with the money” for the cats. “The only thing I can do now is reach out and ask for a little bit of help. I just want my dog back, “ says Gwen.

Read the article


Letter from ex-SPCA agent Kathy Stanley "They took her dog, made her pay astronomical fees, knowing full well her low income level. They kept the dog until Gwen signed paper work giving the SPCA over-reaching powers."   Read the letter
Letter from Marcie Moriarty, General Manager, Cruelty Investigations, BC SPCA"Ms. Wilson states in your story that the number of cats got “out of control” but, contrary to what was alleged in your story, she had the option at any time to surrender those animals at no cost to the SPCA." Read the letter

Dakota returns home to hobby farm and Gwen

The Hope Standard

March 9, 2006

"According to Wilson the SPCA would not return her dog, which was seized for a sore on its paw, unless the bill for the care of the cats was paid. Along with the fund-raised cash, Wilson also gave the SPCA 10 post dated cheques for $125 for the balance of the bill."  Read the article


In her own words - Gwen's side of the story

"It felt like the SPCA had seized Dakota to use as a hostage", Gwen told us, and indeed it is very troubling that the SPCA has the power to seize a happy, well-fed animal on the grounds of a small sore that is being treated. That criteria would allow the SPCA to seize most animals at some time in their lives.  In fact, the PCA Act, the statute which governs the SPCA, does not permit the SPCA to seize healthy animals.

Read the AAS interview with Gwen here

Darla Dickenson

The Hope Standard

February 2, 2006


Makeshift cat shelter raided by SPCA

You would think that animals would cower in the corner at the sight of any owner facing a possible charge of cruelty to animals. But just the opposite is true it seems in the case of a local woman who was recently raided by the SPCA, who were backed up by police armed with a search warrant, (Jan. 13).

Weeks later the very sight of Gwen Wilson's kind, tired face triggers a small stampede towards her as even the goats line up at her gate to give her a kiss and welcome her home from work.

Most people would describe her small acreage where the highway and river converge a hobby farm with goats, a pot bellied pig, geese, ducks, dogs and yes - cats.


And it was the cats that landed the woman in hot water.


“The cats got out of control. But, what was I supposed to do, people would dump them here and the poor little things would show up at the fence and then they’d just stay,” says Gwen Wilson, who had 75 cats and one dog seized by the SPCA and will possibly face charges of animal cruelty for having animals that were in distress.


According to the SPCA the cats, which were kept in a trailer-like facility with no ventilation and a build up of fecal matter from 4 to 18 inches deep, were suffering from varying degrees of distress, one of which was in critical distress as identified by the SPCA’s veterinarian and had to be euthanized on the spot, says Eileen Drever, the senior animal protection officer with the cruelty investigation department.


But some of the SPCA’s claims have met with some local resistance.


“The trailer was left open during the day and the cats had freedom to roam. I have been in and out of that trailer for the past five years and I have never seen it like that (build up of fecal matter) and Gwen knew they were coming – there is no way she would let it look like that,” says Kathy Stanley, a near neighbour and former SPCA agent for the area.


According to the SPCA a number of other cats have had to be euthanized and others are suffering from a range of problems, mostly relating to upper respiratory problems, distended abdomens, nasal discharge, ear mites, and fleas.


“She meant well, she gave homes to unwanted cats again and again until such time as she had 75 of them, which she kept at great expense to herself, and it created unhealthy living conditions,” says Roger Bate, the local veterinarian in Hope who treats Gwen’s animals.


“In addition, the cats contracted a disease which spread and spread until all of them were infected to a greater or lesser extent, Rhinotracheitis spreads like wildfire amongst cats,” added Bate.


“There is only so much money a person has, and it seems like I was always at the vet’s office buying antibiotics, eye ointment, and other stuff. I have always put my animals’ needs in front of my own. They will eat before I will and my widow’s pension never went to myself, it always went toward my animals. I did not ask for any of the cats, they all came to me,” Gwen said.


Gwen makes $8.25/hr at the Husky/Mohawk in Silver Creek.


But, the loss of her cats are not what distresses Gwen as she understands that things had gotten out of control, it was her dog, Dakota, that was also seized because of an old open sore on its paw. “They won’t give me Dakota back until I pay them $3800 in 10 days (from Monday Jan. 30). The rest of the bill, for $8000 (for the cats) I can pay back in monthly installments. They are using the poor boy, he is stuck in the middle,” says Wilson.


The $8000 bill was for the care of the cats until they were signed over to the SPCA. But, the SPCA did not ask her to sign the cats over to them until they had been in their care for four days. “If they would have asked me to sign them over sooner I would have” and the bill could have been kept to a minimum.


It was, in many ways, a relief to sign them over, the number of strays had got out of hand… although I did come to love them all, says Gwen.


The dog is healthy enough to be returned to Wilson but with any seizure the animals are not returned until the owner pays the costs incurred by the SPCA to care for the animals.


“The cats weren’t in the best of health, they had a disease, but at the same time I don’t think it is right that they should make her pay $8000. She was doing her level best to give the cats a home that no one else wanted anymore and her only mistake was not asking for help,” says Stanley.


The SPCA also works with limited resources being a non-profit society and are not funded by the provincial government and the closest shelter for cats is the Chilliwack SPCA. But, we will definitely accept an animal that has been abandoned. We would rather see an animal taken to a shelter than be abandoned, abused or neglected,” says Drever.


But, for Karyn Greenlees, who has a barn on Bristol Slough and has often been saddled with stray cats, she says the SPCA in Chilliwack is not always that willing to take an animal from Hope.  “They will take them from Hope, but you have to pay $50 for a stray cat that you have to sign over as yours, and it is not yours – it is a stray. There have been numerous times when I have called the SPCA and they said they were full and to call back later. What was I supposed to do with them in the meantime? I didn’t want to leave them wandering around in the cold so I would take them to Gwen. She would always take them because that is Gwen.”


Not all of the animals were seized, but we did make recommendations for the others and she has complied with them, says Drever.


We often see this when a person starts off with good intentions and then they get way over their head as word gets around that they will take animals in and they end up with too many and they can’t keep up with it. I am sure that this is the case here… adds Drever. All “people have to be responsible for their animals and if they would have spayed or neutered their pets, then this woman would not be in the situation she is in now.”


“I love my animals, I love them all dearly and I know that I did get overwhelmed with the cats. But, looking back I don’t know what I could have done differently and now I have lost Dakota… unless I come up with the money” for the cats. “The only thing I can do now is reach out and ask for a little bit of help. I just want my dog back, “ says Gwen.


If you would like to help Gwen raise $3800 by Feb. 8 for the return of her dog donations can be made at Envision financial account #3242997

231 Commission, Hope, BC V0X 1L0, Canada
(604) 860-7343

AAS - February 26 2006: Gwen is seriously ill in hospital after cancer surgery on February 14th.  She still needs help to feed her remaining animals.  Please send a donation to Gwen.