Now this is a story from out in British Columbia that has big echoes for us here in Nova Scotia - it really shows that we do not exist in a vacuum, and the issues that we're facing in the humane community locally really are happening elsewhere - so maybe when we're looking for answers to our problems - we really don't have to reinvent the wheel everytime, and it might be a good idea to look elsewhere to see if anyone else has innovative answers to problems that we're having here - because obviously we're just like everyone else.
SPCA wins compensation in 'landmark case'
A B.C. animal breeder whose cats and dogs were seized from her ranch must pay the SPCA $34,000 to cover the cost of caring for her critters if she wants them back, says a B.C. Supreme Court judge.
A lawyer for the SPCA said the decision released Monday appears to be the first time in Canada a judge has developed a detailed formula for calculating such costs, which could influence future cases across the country.
A June 2009 complaint to the SPCA led to the seizure of 26 Great Danes and several cats from Carol Haughton's ranch in Knutsford, south of Kamloops, after inspectors found the animals in poor conditions while she was out of town.
Haughton, who also faces animal cruelty charges, fixed up her property and made improvements which were inspected by a veterinarian. Testifying as an expert witness, the veterinarian called it "the Taj Mahal" of dog and cat kennels.
Earlier this year, the court ruled that Haughton could have the animals back, but the SPCA has only returned a handful of dogs. The agency has demanded tens of thousands of dollars to cover its costs before handing over the rest of the animals.
Has one week to pay
The SPCA initially gave Haughton a bill of $46,000, but later recalculated that total to almost $37,000.
Haughton challenged the fees in B.C. Supreme Court, arguing the SPCA kept the animals for too long and should shoulder most of the costs.
She already paid $3,600 in August 2009, and her lawyer suggested she pay just $250 more.
Justice Hope Hyslop settled on fees of $34,000, and gave Haughton until April 5 to come up with the money. If she doesn't, the SPCA can adopt the animals out.
Neither Haughton nor her lawyer could be reached for comment.
Chris Rhone, the SPCA's lawyer in the case, applauded the ruling for offering a detailed breakdown of the costs to the SPCA.
"I believe it's probably the first case in Canada that's spoken about the reasonableness of the daily cost of care," Rhone said in an interview.
"I think it's a landmark case for the daily rates charged by the society."
The SPCA presented evidence to justify its calculations, saying it cost $10 a day to care for each cat and $15 for every dog.
For example, the $10 rate for cats includes $1 for food, $1 for operating expenses, $6 for staff time and $1.50 for loss of revenue.
The $34,000 total includes about $17,000 for dogs, $11,500 for cats, $4,500 for veterinarian costs and $1,000 to pay for staff.
The court judgement from this week
Haughton's original court judgement