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Much has changed at the SPCA since the following articles/messageboard posts were written, some for the better and some for the worse. Read more: The BC SPCA Now.

The SPCA raids Forgotten Felines Cat Shelter *PIC*
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THE RAID ON FORGOTTEN FELINES Forgotten Felines website

On October 10th, 2003, three officers of the BC SPCA, Eileen Drever, Senior Animal Protection Officer, Shawn Eccles, Chief Animal Protection Officer, and Charlie Leung, manager and inspector, Richmond SPCA, appeared at the home of Penny March and her husband Serge Belley and demanded entry to inspect their cat shelter, Forgotten Felines. Both Drever and Eccles are long-time SPCA employees.

In Ms March's words, she was intimidated into giving them permission to come in by being told that they had authority to search her entire property, although they provided no warrant. Drever repeatedly demanded that March show her picture ID even though Ms March and Mr Leung are very familiar with each other. In Ms March's words, they loudly stamped around, frightening both Ms March and the cats until Belley told them he would call the police if they did not leave.

Ms Drever said several times that the cats would be better off dead. She gave Ms March an official 'Order' which instructed:

Provide veterinary care when animals exhibit signs of injury, pain, illness or suffering. Drever specified two cats out of 150 in the shelter that the she said had to be seen by a vet, one of which was a cat that was sick when received from the SPCA and was being treated by March already, the other was given a clean bill of health by March's vet.

Provide for animals placed in group housing the opportunity to withdraw from each other. The shelter has many cubbies for cats to withdraw into but not to be caged in (except for ill cats under treatment).

When explaining the order to March, Drever told March that the feral cats should be caged. In other words, the SPCA instructed March, on penalty of seizure of all her cats, that she keep her cats in cages - like they do at the SPCA. It is well-known to those familiar with cat behaviour, that caging causes a rapid decline in physical and mental health for cats, causing them death by disease (most commonly upper respiratory diseases) and death by despair (they stop eating and their livers shut down). The SPCA kills many cats in its grim, inhumane facilities because of this. The order also stipulated that a vet inspect Forgotten Feline's shelter and all its cats within 7 days. It threatened that failure to comply to the Order within 24 hours could result in legal action, including seizure of March's animals, and/or criminal charges pursuant to the PCA Act. In plain words, the SPCA was threatening to give Ms March a criminal record and seize her cats, keeping them at an SPCA in tiny cages, possibly killing some as the SPCA has in the past with seized animals. (See "We do not euthanize animals for lack of space". The Vernon SPCA proves that a lie http://www.animaladvocates.com/cgi-bin/newsroom.pl/read/3273)


March founded Forgotten Felines in October 2000, after more than a decade of doing cat rescue on her own, setting up a cat shelter in her house and property. She and volunteers work for free to humanely trap abandoned and feral cats all over the lower mainland, sterilizing and treating for disease, injury, rotten teeth and parasites. Where possible, March sets up feeding stations, but where there is no one to monitor a station, March brings the cats to the Forgotten Felines shelter where they are socialized and rehomed. Some cats need chronic and ongoing medical attention and some remain feral: those cats become permanent residents. All sick cats at Forgotten Feline receive medication and vet care.

March has up to 150 cats in her home and property. Two trailers are set up with individual cages that cats can choose to retire to but are not confined to (except the sickest while being treated). The trailers allow access to outdoors so all the cats are able to experience natural freedom and socializing should they choose. March and Belley have secured their yard so cats cannot leave, but the yard is planted with trees and shrubs with cat perches and sunning spots. Oak benches and garden chairs are for volunteers to sit and stroke cats and interact with them in a normal manner. Forgotten Felines is a well respected cat rescue organization doing a much better and more humane job than the SPCA itself.

The considerable expenses are met by March personally and by donations from cat-lovers who appreciate Forgotten Feline's true no-kill policy. A large body of volunteers help March to keep the shelter clean and to socialize the cats. Two of those volunteers are Barbara Yaffe, the Sun newspaper columnist, and her husband, Wilson Russell.


The right hand does not appear to know what the left hand is doing. Some SPCA branches actually give cats to March that would otherwise be put down for health or age reasons. March told us that the Vancouver, Burnaby, and Langley SPCAs have given her 3 to 4 cats a week for a year. So the BC SPCA was inspecting the condition of some of its own off-loaded cats that it would have killed.

She also told us that the Manager of the Vancouver and Burnaby SPCAs came to inspect Forgotten Felines in July of this year and approved, telling March that he was impressed with how calm all her cats were and what a great set-up she had. The next day he released four cats to her. In fact, March was given 4 cats by the Vancouver SPCA the day before the SPCA raided her, three of which were going to be killed because they had upper respiratory colds, the great killer of cats in shelters.

March was instructed by the SPCA to have her shelter inspected by a vet within 7 days. Dr Dhillon of the Oak Animal Hospital came and praised the shelter fulsomely, saying that it was fantastic and that the cats all looked well looked after. He expressed the opinion that Drever should be investigated for saying that Penny's cats should be dead. We concur.


Karen Duncan of Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue went to the BC SPCA head office immediately after the raid and was told by Craig Daniell, BC SPCA CEO and Manager of Cruelty Investigations - the boss - that the complaint against Forgotten Felines was lodged by another cat rescue group with impeccable credentials. Who that may be is a story for another day, but earlier this year March had to enlist the help of the RCMP to stop another Richmond cat rescue group from defaming her and snooping around her property. This cat group is on very friendly terms with the SPCA.

Barbara Yaffe and Wilson Russell also went to the BC SPCA head offices in Vancouver the day of the raid and spoke to Ms Drever, who said several times more that the cats should all be dead. We can only say that Ms Drever has many years experience doing just that.

On October 30th Ms Yaffe met with Mr Daniell who said that the SPCA will be back, cannot be stopped, and that Drever, the inspector who March found most intimidating and arrogant, may very well attend again. Mr Daniell chose a course of hard-nosed stubbornness in the face of very questionable behaviour by his staff.


On hearing what the SPCA had done to March, AAS advised her to retain the legal advice of lawyer Barbara Curran which March did. On October 31st March filed a complaint with the RCMP Complaints Commission about the SPCA's heavy-handed tactics and what may be a serious abuse of power. On October 31st, Curran faxed Craig Daniell, warning him that it was not a good idea for him to let Drever go back to Forgotten Felines.


If overweening employees are given free rein, as this case seems to indicate, they are being allowed to speak for the whole SPCA - for the Board of Directors and for the CEO. It is not as though Eileen Drever's penchant for questionable actions and words is not known to the SPCA. AAS has a file on Drever going back many years, and in January we warned CEO Daniell that she may discredit the SPCA. In our opinion she has, but it appears that the CEO approves of her behaviour. (We named other employees that we fully expect to make trouble for the SPCA if not controlled.) (See the story of the return of the Chilliwack puppymill dogs: http://www.animaladvocates.com/cgi-bin/newsroom.pl/read/3678)


The market abhors a vacuum and the SPCA is creating an animal welfare vacuum because of many of its actions in the last three years. The SPCA is losing money disastrously: 2.6 million in 2001; 4.5 million in 2002; and 4.6 in 2003. The attack on Forgotten Felines is just one more instance of incredibly inept management decisions. March has told us that five people made donations to Forgotten Felines out of anger at the SPCA, one man coming to the door with $500, saying he was going to collect more from friends.

SPCA cat cages in Maple Ridge (2001)

Messages In This Thread

AAS -- Thursday, 6 November 2003, at 6:47 a.m.
Jean Martin of Nanaimo questions BC SPCA CEO Craig Daniell
AAS -- Thursday, 6 November 2003, at 8:28 a.m.
Pacific Animal Foundation: Feral Cat Experts
AAS -- Thursday, 6 November 2003, at 8:37 a.m.
The BC SPCA's own web site extols the virtues of communal housing for cats
Joann Bessler -- Friday, 7 November 2003, at 7:35 a.m.
Why doesn't the Richmond SPCA concentrate on those who are a problem - pet stores? *PIC*
MIA -- Friday, 7 November 2003, at 9:35 a.m.
AAS -- Sunday, 9 November 2003, at 11:26 a.m.
Thank you for getting this story out *LINK*
VOKRA -- Sunday, 9 November 2003, at 11:36 a.m.

The Raid on Forgotten Felines: Who Wore What? *LINK*

The SPCA Raid on Forgotten Felines, in our opinion is the act of an irrational and dysfunctional Society.

On October the 10th, the BC SPCA sent its two top cops and an assistant to investigate Forgotten Felines, a Richmond cat shelter run by Penny March, that takes as many as 4 to 5 sick or old cats a week from the SPCA.

Since then many irrational things have been done by the SPCA not least of which is that Craig Daniell, the CEO and Manager of Cruelty Investigations, will not respond to requests made by March, her lawyer Barbara Curran, or Forgotten Felines volunteer and Sun political columnist, Barbara Yaffe, to know what the SPCA is doing next. March has faxed Daniell about five times, Curran has asked twice and Yaffe two or three times. Daniell does not answer them.

He has also said repeatedly that the three SPCA officers were not in uniform, as though if no uniforms were worn, the inspection was not official and therefore not so bad. March, her husband, Serge Bellay, and three volunteers who were present all say all three SPCA officers were in uniform. And if they were out of uniform that Friday morning, did they just happen to also have with them an SPCA legal "Order" to lay against March?

Daniell has also said that he took the complaint and ordered the inspection so this was definitely official business. It would be odd, perhaps even not legal, for the SPCA to carry out official investigations in plain clothes.

Forgotten Felines website

How can Craig Daniell still imply that the complaint was valid and had merit?
Jean Martin -- Monday, 17 November 2003, at 6:02 p.m.

Penny March of Forgotten Felines just mopped the floor with the SPCA on Rafe Mair's program on AM 600!

Penny tore the veil off the "new" SPCA's bully-boy tactics. She stripped the SPCA cops naked. She opened a can of worms, and thanks to Rafe Mair, the rest of the media may finally start looking farther than the spin pumped out by the SPCA's p.r. department.

Could this be why one of the members of the BC SPCA Board of Directors just resigned? http://www.animaladvocates.com/cgi-bin/newsroom.pl/read/3939 We think the others had better call their lawyers.

Further reading...
WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? The SPCA raids Forgotten Felines Cat Shelter

PASSION WITHOUT PRINCIPLE - A DANGEROUS COMBINATION http://www.animaladvocates.com/cgi-bin/newsroom.pl/read/3765"

AAS -- Wednesday, 3 December 2003, at 10:06 a.m.
Listen to the Rafe and Penny interview here
AAS -- Thursday, 4 December 2003, at 5:04 a.m.
If yesterday wasn't the worst day in Craig Daniell's career, we hate to think of a worse
AAS -- Thursday, 4 December 2003, at 6:24 a.m.
Craig Daniell to do damage control on Rafe Mair, 600 AM, Thursday, December 11th, at 9:30 a.m.
AAS -- Friday, 5 December 2003, at 1:14 p.m.
This is just a little tongue-in-cheek anticipation of what Craig Daniell might say in his upcoming appearance on the Rafe Mair show
Jean Martin -- Friday, 5 December 2003, at 1:16 p.m.

Forgotten Felines: If anyone out there still thinks the BCSPCA does a wonderful job of humanely caring for animals in its shelters... *LINK*

Posted By: Jeri-Lyn Ratzlaff

If anyone out there still thinks the BCSPCA does a wonderful job of humanely caring for animals in its shelters, I would encourage you take a look at a recent link the Rafe Mair show provides to illustrate that the opposite is actually true. You will see photos of the stark contrast between Penny March’s Forgotten Felines cat habitat and the prison-like setting of cat cages at two lower mainland SPCA shelters.

Here is the link: http://www.600am.com/pages/Rafe.html
If this doesn’t work you can try www.forgottenfelines.ca

Here’s an excerpt from Penny’s website: “Forgotten Felines is a no-kill animal shelter in Richmond. Our policy is: We accept cats from all areas of Greater Vancouver. All cats are taken to one of our vets to be vet-checked, fixed, vaccinated, blood tested for
leukemia and aids, dewormed, deflead and tattooed.

All cats’ teeth are checked and senior cats receive a teeth cleaning. We accept cats in any condition. We accept cats that have any bad habits. We accept cats of any age.

The cats are adopted out of one of our five adoption sites. The feral cats are tamed and adopted out. None of our cats are euthanized. We welcome them to live with us until we find the perfect home.”

In case you get the wrong impression, the SPCA has its stalwart, loud critics not because we have nothing better to do nor are we hell-bent on making life miserable for its employees. We criticize the SPCA because it accepts donations from an unwitting public that it willingly misleads about providing humane animal care and seems to care very little for the abandoned, neglected and abused animals in its shelters.

If the SPCA cares about the humane treatment of animals, you have to wonder why CEO Craig Daniell ordered a raid on Forgotten Felines where the cats’ medical and social needs are taken care of. Daniell found nothing wrong at FF, yet cats in the SPCA’s shelters are adopted out with less than half the medical care (including s/n) that FF provides. Did Daniell’s motive have ANYTHING to do with concern for the welfare of the cats at Forgotten Felines?

It’s all well and good for the BCSPCA to quote Gandhi and Margaret Mead in its newsletters, but anyone can be look magnanimous when they want more money. The SPCA has to get off its soapbox, change its work culture and stop protecting so many highly paid union animal killers. And its time for the SPCA to stop telling the public to advocate for improved animal welfare legislation when they’re so seldom ever doing it. And it’s time to treat all animals humanely all the time, not just when the TV cameras are around, and it’s time to stop bullying people like Penny March when she is actually doing the rescue and rehabilitation job that the public wrongly believes the SPCA is doing.

Take that SPCA! Forgotten Felines looks good...far better than any SPCA *LINK* *PIC*

Posted By: AAS
Date: Thursday, 27 May 2004, at 12:49 p.m.

Homeless cats find a haven
At Forgotten Felines no-kill shelter cats enjoy care and comfort at a home where they can live out their days

Barbara Yaffe
Vancouver Sun

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Penny March's Forgotten Felines has run for more than a decade as a no-kill shelter. She takes cats to shopping malls for 'adoption days' and is always trying to think of new ways to raise cash.

Felix most definitely is on the second of his nine lives. The gray and white cat was taken to a vet with horrible injuries, stemming from abuse or neglect. After having his eye removed and extensive surgery, he was lucky enough to wind up at a no-kill cat shelter.

He's blind and partially deaf and needs help to find his food bowl. He'll need care throughout his lifetime.

But Felix, barely out of kittenhood, is cute as a button and loves people. If he'd been taken to the SPCA, he might have been categorized as being in critical distress or unadoptable. But, at a no-kill shelter, if no one adopts him, he can live his life in a safe environment.

His example raises an issue society across North America currently is grappling with -- how to deal with companion animal overpopulation and the morality of killing unwanted pets. University of B.C.'s Animal Welfare Program is hosting a lecture, Understanding the No-Kill Controversy, Friday at Robson Square.

People generally love no-kill shelters. It makes them feel good. They can dispose of unwanted animals with a clear conscience, knowing they will not be killed or starve or freeze to death.

But operating a no-kill shelter presents enormous challenges, challenges the B.C. SPCA is all too aware of.

The society advertised itself as no-kill in March 2002, only to discover it wasn't possible to deal with all B.C.'s stray and homeless animals without having the option of reducing numbers when resources were exhausted. After shelters overflowed and SPCA workers panicked, the policy was modified.

SPCA shelters take in some 31,000 animals each year with a view to finding them homes. The organization avoids euthanasia to the extent possible but cannot provide exact figures because records aren't fully computerized.

Forgotten Felines has been operating for more than a decade as a no-kill shelter and financial and space pressures are often overwhelming. But operator Penny March refuses to run it any other way.

Its website (www.forgottenfelines.ca) pledges: "The shelter will take any cat; abused, stray, sick, abandoned and feral cats."

It further pledges cats will never be euthanized "for any reason other than if it is suffering incurable pain." In the past year there have been no such instances.

March's shelter is but one of an unknown number of private groups operating in the Lower Mainland, rescuing companion animals.

Often crowded and less than immaculate, these shelters tend to be criticized by some as offering an endlessly unstimulating existence and a worse fate for a cat than a quick and humane death.

Obviously, shelter operators who struggle mightily to maintain their refuges beg to differ.

Registered as a charity, the Forgotten Felines' donations are tax deductible. When not caring for her charges or cleaning the shelter, March holds garage and rummage sales, pub nights and pancake breakfasts, craft fairs and bake sales.

She occasionally acts as hot-dog vendor downtown. She takes cats in cages to shopping malls for "adoption days" and is constantly trying to dream up new ways of raising cash.

She's hoping someone will donate land so she can set up a more extensive and permanent shelter operation.

The $135 donation fee she charges for an adoption goes toward blood tests, spaying and neutering, vaccinations and a complimentary vet visit for the new owner. Last year she ran a deficit of $11,000.

She contributes to the shelter personally from revenue earned by assisting her landscape designer husband.

The shelter, located in Richmond, is home to more than 150 cats that live communally rather than in cages. Nooks and crannies around and inside pieces of old furniture allow for hiding places.

Not all the cats are debilitated.

Many fluffy, adoptable cats find their way to this safe haven, even so-called designer cats such as Maine Coons, Siamese and Persians. But these cats would have a good chance of being adopted at any SPCA shelter.

Forgotten Felines' real value is in its accommodation of the unadoptables like Felix.

For such animals, the shelter operates the same way a chronic care home or palliative ward designed for humans would operate. Some cats have been at the shelter for as long as seven years.

They may have been dumped by owners, brought in by friends of a deceased caregiver or transferred to March's care by local veterinarians who have clients requesting their healthy pets be euthanized.

Another category of cat generally deemed unadoptable is the feral. These are wild cats that have not had contact with humans.

March has taken in many ferals that have been trapped by volunteers. She has them fixed to curtail the pervasive problem of over breeding and integrates them into the shelter. Over time, many become familiar with people and get adopted.

A special room accommodates cats afflicted with feline leukemia and HIV. And believe it or not, some have found homes. Like Mushie and Melanie, two HIV cats adopted by a man who felt great sympathy for them.

Terminally ill cats that don't get adopted will remain in their compact quarters filled with cat beds, toys and soft blankets.

In another part of the shelter, cats with behaviour problems or felines not meticulous about using the litter box are housed.

Finnigan, a lovable black prankster, is a hellion, splashing in the communal water bowl as though it were a wading pool and jumping on the shoulders of unsuspecting humans.

Finnigan has thrived at the shelter as has Combat, a huge, black, formerly feral Maine Coon who acts as a sort of godfather to all the other cats, and more often than not is curled up in an oversized basket, purring.

Each cat has a story to tell. One was left in an elevator, another in an apartment cupboard by a tenant who'd moved out. At this time of year, birthing season, kittens are regularly left in dumpsters.

March remembers taking in a cat after getting a call from someone living next to a crack house. She went over and the people, blissfully stoned, handed over the pet.

Another cat, Katrina, was surrendered by her drug-using owners. Katrina had severe seizures for the first four months she was at the shelter. March suspects she was exposed in some way to drugs.

Then there's Oscar, who receives as much special care as March and volunteers can offer.

Oscar is a portly ginger who arrived at the shelter after his caregiver gave birth and decided cats and babies don't mix. Oscar was extremely close to his caregiver and when dropped off was mad as hell, growling and pawing aggressively at anyone who approached.

But then he did what so many other dumped cats before him have done at the shelter. He became horribly depressed, stopped interacting and, most problematic, stopped eating. He spends his days immobile, under a piano bench and is fed forcibly by March.

Force feeding and esteem building are attempted in such cases with volunteers spending special time with and giving lots of cuddles to the morose cat.

But quite often a depressed cat won't get over its misery and will starve itself to death. The outlook for Oscar is uncertain. But if he dies, it will be the result of his owner's lack of caring.

March gets as little detail as possible from cat owners who dump their cats -- usually because of a new boyfriend, landlord trouble, moving to another city.

She doesn't care any more why they abandon their animals; it only makes her angry that they do. "It's heartbreaking. They're so confused. They don't understand why they've gone from a loving home to a shelter."

Maya, coloured by a series of big black-and-white patches, is a case in point.

March doesn't know why Maya was dumped in an open field in an industrial area where she had virtually no chance of getting food. Maya was a friendly cat; there was no doubt she once was someone's pet.

She was trapped last week, brought to the shelter and, down to 2 1/2 pounds, was cuddled, force fed and watched over by March. She died within three days.


SPCA raids Forgotten Felines - all the background

The SPCA threatens to seize Forgotten Felines cats and kill them. Compare the way cats are "sheltered" at an SPCA compared to Forgotten Felines *LINK* *PIC*
AAS -- Thursday, 27 May 2004, at 1:06 p.m.