Cariboo resident Cori Lamarche said her two boxer dogs disappeared from the 137 Mile Ranch area during a thunderstorm on Aug. 1 and ended up at the Chilliwack SPCA the next day.
She brought her dogs home last week, and notes that she still has unanswered questions.
“This just doesn’t feel right to me,” she said.
She explained that the dogs were spotted on the night of the storm by a neighbour, headed north.
“We went on the Williams Lake SPCA website, as well as Missing BC Pets. We got a message from BC Pets the next morning saying that there were two boxers at the Chilliwack SPCA matching our inquiry. ‘That’s impossible,’ I thought. ‘They couldn’t have made it to Chilliwack.”
“I phoned the SPCA in Chilliwack and asked about the dogs; I was directed to their website and saw my dogs’ photos. I phoned the shelter manager and said ‘Those are my dogs,’ and she told me to come and get them, and told me the fee I would need to pay when I picked them up.”
Chilliwack shelter manager Ivanna Ferris said on Aug. 2 they received a phone call from a woman travelling from Prince George to Vancouver, phoning from near Hope, saying that she found two female boxers without collars or tags on the side of the road. She told the shelter she couldn’t leave the dogs on the road and couldn’t find a shelter nearby.
“We said we’d take the dogs, and stayed open until she arrived. The woman gave us a Prince George address and left the animals with us,” Ferris explained. “Three days later we got the phone call from Cori Lamarche saying we had her dogs – a mother and daughter.”
Ferris said she also wondered how the dogs had gotten from Williams Lake to Hope.
“We repeatedly tried to get more information from the woman who found them, but our phone calls were not answered,” she said. “The younger female boxer was in heat and we could tell that the two dogs had been actively bred, but were in good health and good condition.”
It took more than two weeks for Lamarche to pick up her dogs in Chilliwack — something that was a source of frustration for her and for SPCA shelter staff.
“We were in the middle of moving and my husband had just broken his arm, and we are five hours away,” Lamarche said. “The manager in Chilliwack started getting upset with me because I couldn’t immediately show up for the dogs and she refused to tell me who dropped them off or how they got there.”
“We do not share information in our files, such as people who surrender animals, adopters, cruelty complaints, and so on, to ensure that people’s personal information is kept private,” stated BCSPCA general manager of community relations Lorie Chortyk.
“Many of the animals we take in are related to cases of abuse and violence to animals and so we also don’t want to put anyone at risk by indicating the new location of an animal who has been seized from a dangerous situation/person.”
Lamarche said she was also unhappy about the fees she had to pay to get her dogs.
“I was distraught. I’ve had those dogs since they were born. I ended up sending an e-mail to BCSPCA and was told, ‘Too bad. You have to pay to get your dogs back.’”
As per usual practice when an animal arrives at the shelter, Ferris said they vaccinated the dogs — a cost of $100.
“When I first spoke to the owner we were at $160 for three or four days of boarding. She said she’d try to get a ride for the dogs, but no one showed up,” Ferris explained. “The days added up, and when she finally came to get the dogs, two weeks later, we waived some of the fees and she only paid $250 — the vaccines and $150 for boarding fees.”
She also said that they waived their policy to consider an animal adoptable and abandoned four days after contact with the owner. “The dogs were very happy to see her when she came to get them,” she said.
“Our goal is to ensure that the 29,000 animals who are brought into our care each year are provided with the veterinary treatment, rehabilitation and attention they deserve and that we can find them a loving home where they will be treated with care, affection and respect,” Chortyk continued.
“Thankfully, we have many, many success stories at our shelters. We see ‘happy endings’ every day in our shelters and we are so grateful to our amazing staff and volunteers and to our supporters who make our work possible. As a charity we rely entirely on community support to carry out our services, so it is definitely a team effort.”