On January 11th the SPCA seized 28 Pit bulls from a farm in Deroche. Seven of the dogs were on a separate part of the property and were owned by Wes Norman, not to the property owners named in the complaint. Cattle, horses, chickens and 21 Pit bulls were also seized from the property owners, Stephanie Briscoe and her husband.
The SPCA usually brings the media with it to seizures, to get all the publicity it can out of seizures. And it usually issues press releases too.
Not this time though. This time it was secretive. In fact, this time, it made the owners sign gag orders to prevent them from going to the media. Both Norman and Briscoe told AAS that the SPCA told them that if they didn't sign, their dogs would be killed.
We can only guess at the SPCA's reasons for being secretive this time, but our guess is that the SPCA would not want to enrage half of BC's citizens if it killed them all, or enrage the other half if it took money and returned them all.
The SPCA chose to take the money and return the dogs, in secret. At least, to Wes Norman who got his dogs back after paying $2400 and signing the gag order just hours before his February 4th deadline to "come up with the money or we'll put your dogs down". After going to the Vancouver SPCA and meeting the four Norman dogs held there, video taping them, and seeing they were all healthy and had friendly temperaments, AAS gave Norman $500 so that he could rescue his dogs from the SPCA.
We don't know the exact amount that Briscoe and her husband were ordered to pay but she told us that she and her husband were going to have to sell their house in order to pay what the SPCA demanded.
Norman's wife told us that he added the words "In protest" on his gag order, but it was whipped away, another copy put before him, and he was told to sign if he wanted his dogs back. Hours before Norman signed the gag order, AAS made a taped interview with him. Neither Norman nor Briscoe have talked to AAS since signing their gag orders.
Four days after the seizure, Norman attended a meeting at the Vancouver SPCA with Eileen Drever, the Senior Animal Protection Officer in charge of the seizure. According to Norman, Drever had a huge Rottweiller and a huge armed SPCA officer in the room, while she read Norman his rights. She told him that most of the dogs had been checked by SPCA vets and that they found that some of the dogs had dry skin and tooth plaque. One had an old shoulder wound that was healed long ago, but they made a big deal of that, X-raying it, but weren't able to find anything wrong. Norman told us that Drever said all his dogs were very affectionate and friendly.
Eighteen days after the seizure, Muddy mysteriously died. Norman told us that Drever said he died of some respiratory illness that caused his throat to harden so they couldn't get air tubes down him. Drever told Norman that they were going to charge him $5,000 for emergency care, but Norman objected and they backed down.
On February 4th, Norman got his six surviving dogs back.
We welcome the SPCA to contact us if any of the details in this post are substantively incorrect.
Muddy - who didn't make it home....