A woman in Surrey, B.C. has been found guilty of causing distress to animals more than two years after her breeding and boarding facility was raided by the BC SPCA and dozens of animals were seized.
The animal welfare agency confiscated more than 80 animals, mostly cats, from Ivy Zhouâ€™s business in Surreyâ€™s Cloverdale area in February 2016. The BC SPCA said all of the animals required medical treatment and some of them were in critical distress and had to be euthanized as a result.
Adrian Walton, a veterinarian who attended the seizure, testified in court on Wednesday about the conditions he witnessed at Zhouâ€™s facility. He said they discovered diseases among the animals throughout the property, including ringworm and respiratory infections. There was one cat that was so sick and emaciated that it couldnâ€™t be saved, he recalled.
Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the BC SPCA, said the 2016 raid wasnâ€™t the first time they had confronted Zhou about her business.
In 2014, officers searched her property and ordered her to improve the living conditions for the animals there, which included dogs, cats, a goat and a hen. They were unable to close Zhouâ€™s operations at the time because they didnâ€™t have the jurisdiction.
â€śThis was a really terrible case because we had dealt with this woman before.â€ť Moriarty told CTV Vancouver on Wednesday. â€śWe had told her how to properly look after animals. We had seen animals suffer in her care before and yet, she continued to accumulate and breed animals.â€ť
During the proceedings, Zhou testified with the help of a translator that she had trouble understanding the BC SPCAâ€™s instructions because of her limited English skills. She explained that she was a commercial breeder in China with no formal training and that she wanted to continue the profession in Canada. She asked the judge to give her the opportunity to learn how to care for the animals, explaining that it was her lifelong goal.
The judge questioned the credibility of Zhouâ€™s testimony. However, she was able to avoid jail time and was given a suspended sentence with two years of probation and 100 hours of community service. She was also given a seven-year ban on owning animals.
The Crown and defence had both suggested a suspended sentence; however, prosecutors had also asked that Zhou receive a lifetime ban on owning animals.
â€śThis is a case which absolutely deserved a lifetime ban on owning animals. She was running a business, consciously profiting off of animals with zero regard to their welfare,â€ť Moriarty said.
With a report from CTV Vancouverâ€™s Maria Weisgarber