Step 1 – Gathering information
When the BC SPCA Animal Helpline (1-855-622-7722) receives a cruelty complaint, an Animal Helpline operator will gather information from the caller, including but not limited to:
- The caller’s name, phone number and address: While we do accept anonymous reports, contact information is very important in the event that the animal protection officer who investigates the complaint has any questions or difficulty locating the property. Also, if legal action is pursued, we may require a statement.
- The person of interest’s information: Address and name (if known) as well as physical description and whether the caller believes they might be violent.
- A detailed description of the animal(s) and the concerns. Also location of animals if different from the person of interest’s address.
- Date and time of the incident or when the animal was last observed.
All of these questions are necessary to ensure we provide the animal protection officers with as much information as possible to assist them in their investigation.
Step 2 – Investigating the complaint
An animal protection officer will review the complaint and attend the premises.
Our response time will depend on the number and priority of calls at the time, as well as the location of the animals reported. The officers will attend as soon as they are able, however it is important to remember that the BC SPCA is a non-profit organization with only 30 full time officers for the whole province.
If the animal protection officer attends and finds the complaint to be unfounded, we will close the file with no further action. If the complaint is valid and there are animals in distress, the officer must give the owner the opportunity to relieve the distress within a reasonable period of time. In doing so the officer would issue the owner with notice(s).
Step 3 – Resolving the issue
If the owner complies within the provided time period, we will close the file. If the owner does not comply within the time period, the animal protection officer may either issue new notices, provide additional time (depending on the circumstances) or apply for a warrant to seize the animal(s).