Boston terriers take over Cowichan SPCA

Controversy: Some claim to have already paid deposits on dogs

Already dealing with a flood of calls following the announcement that they’d received 27 Boston terriers last Sunday, the Cowichan SPCA has also fielded claims about the ownership of the animals.

Tina Heary, senior animal protection officer for the BC SPCA, said that although the animals are now legally in the hands of the Cowichan shelter, efforts are being made to accommodate those who say they have purchased some of them.

“The lady who was breeding the dogs was hospitalized and we were contacted by her husband who was distraught that his wife was terminal and was unable to care for all of these dogs,” Heary said.

“He asked if it were possible to surrender them to the SPCA’s Cowichan Shelter. That’s how it started. The shelter, of course, thought they were doing a good deed for the dogs and for the family in reaching out and accepting them,” but subsequently prospective puppy-owners came forward.

“While they were certainly lawfully surrendered to the SPCA and have become part of the SPCA’s animals in care, the shelter in Cowichan has tried to be as reasonable as possible to those that have put a deposit down,” Heary said.

“Those people were invited to contact the shelter and demonstrate that they had something: a paid-for slip, a purchase contract or something in place so they could speak to the shelter manager and then potentially establish themselves as part of the conversation.”

But, Heary explained, the SPCA also wanted to ensure the placement was a good fit for the animal.

“I know the manager has met with and come to some agreement with some lovely people who were in line for the breeder’s puppies. I think they are doing the best they can at the shelter under those circumstances to please and appease everybody.”

According to Sandi Trent, manager at the Cowichan & District SPCA branch, there’s definitely been a cuteness overload at the facility in North Cowichan. The new intake of four-legged guests includes 16 puppies and 11 adults.

The puppies are all four weeks old, and the adults (one male, the rest female) range in age from one to three years old.

Trent posted on the branch’s Facebook page “Due to the overwhelming interest and the number of applications the branch has already receive for the Boston terriers, we are currently not taking any further applications.”

Heary said it’s been challenging but the SPCA is trying to find the best solution for everyone.

“I think we’re doing the best we can in the circumstances to help this family. To be fair, I think it was good that they came in to the SPCA initially. There were not good conditions where the dogs were staying and clearly the family member was overwhelmed. He recognized he was not able to manage. The SPCA had history with the breeder and he was aware of the contacts that were available to him and opted to surrender them all so they could get the proper care,” she said.

“Essentially, the family had contacted the SPCA Cowichan branch on Saturday,” Heary said.

The result of the call was that “the shelter manager agreed to accept any dogs or puppies that the family member wanted to voluntarily surrender. Arrangements were made for last Sunday “for staff to drive to the home and have them surrendered over to the BC SPCA,” Heary continued.

Once the shelter had the animals, they had to be assessed, but Heary acknowledged that members of the breeder’s family have since claimed that the dogs shouldn’t have been taken.

“There have been people who have come forward but the dogs were lawfully surrendered by the owner to the BC SPCA,” she said.

Meanwhile, at the Cowichan branch, there has been plenty of interest in the adorable animals.

It’s only natural that there’s been interest in the new arrivals, according to Trent.

“They are so cute. They’re very sweet and so endearing,” she said, noting the nursing moms and their puppies are in foster care while the rest are settling in at the shelter.

Finding them homes won’t happen immediately, though as the canines must be spayed and neutered, and a couple might even be long-term shelter residents.