The B.C. SPCA has filed charges against a McLeese Lake area rancher.
Rob Weetman has been charged with one count of causing or permitting to be caused unnecessary suffering, pain or injury to an animal, wilfull neglect and causing or permitting animal distress.
The charges stem from an investigation by the SPCA in February and March; a search warrant was executed March 17. The SPCA alleges that despite warnings and recommendations concerning the housing and feeding of a herd of cattle of approximately 170 head, nearly 40 starved to death and 130 were severely emaciated.
The investigation was conducted jointly between constables from the BCSPCA Animal Cruelty Investigation Department, Williams Lake RCMP with the RCMP Livestock Constable and the B.C. Conservation Service.
Ken Kokoska, SPCA senior animal protection officer, says it is policy when the organization receives a complaint about animal care for it to establish the complaint is valid and identify to whom the animals belong.
The SPCA then makes contact with animal owners to work with them to determine why an animal or animals are in distress and if the owner is capable of fixing the situation and then giving them an opportunity to do so. If subsequent inspections show the animals continue to be in distress then the SPCA obtains a search warrant. In this case, the SPCA followed that protocol, Kokoska says.
“This is one of the saddest cases of animal neglect we’ve seen in this area,” he said in a prepared release.
“We found dead cattle strewn around the ranch, as well as cows so starved their hips, backs and ribs were protruding. Some of the animals were dehydrated because they couldn’t get to a nearby creek to drink ….”
According to the SPCA, necropsies revealed that three of the dead animals were so emaciated due to improper feeding that their fat sores were completely depleted.
Kokoska noted the investigation is ongoing and says when an animal owner is charged with animal cruelty the SPCA maintains an open file regarding any other animals that may be in the person’s care to ensure their ongoing health.
Weetman will make his first court appearance Aug. 24.