Three pet owners have filed claims in Surrey provincial court against the SPCA, calling for the return of dogs and cats seized from the Princess Pet Daycare.
They're also all seeking damages of up to $25,000 for the "infliction of emotional distress."
"They suffered a lot," says Fan Zou, a friend of the plaintiffs, who speak little English. "The animals are their family members."
The suits relate to five cats, a Chihuahua and five puppies seized in May, along with a Samoyed named Bosco seized in June. The owners claim they asked the SPCA to give back the animals, but were refused.
The owner of the daycare, Ivy XinYing Zhou, has also filed a separate suit, claiming animal control officers won't return two dogs they seized from her in the first raid.
Animals in distress
In responses to the suits, the B.C. SPCA claims investigators obtained the first search warrant in May after learning animals were in distress.
"The seized dogs were muzzled, lacked access to potable water, had overgrown nails and dental issues," the response says. "The seized cats and their kittens were highly stressed as dogs were allowed access to their shelter."
The SPCA says they obtained a second warrant in June after Surrey bylaw officers advised them of potential dog fights. They later found Bosco in a pen with a pit bull and a Husky.
"The society was concerned that ongoing dog fighting could lead to injury or death of some or all of the dogs," the response reads.
The SPCA says the plaintiff suing for Bosco's return failed to provide proof of ownership. As a result, the organization says it adopted Bosco out in July.
The SPCA says Zhou has ignored repeated orders respecting appropriate animal control and treatment. The City of Surrey revoked her business licence last spring.
Neighbour Ginger Hartman says the noise and sight of animals in distress has upset the community.
"You see people wanting to do the right thing and desperately so," she says. "And they just can't. And even as a community, we're talking together and nothing's happening."
Zhou claims she has done her best to comply with the SPCA's orders.
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