The BC SPCA has a legal obligation to provide animal guardians with “an opportunity to relieve the animal’s distress.”
The objective of every investigation is to relieve and prevent the distress of an animal through education, cooperation and, if necessary, prosecution under the law.
Initially, an investigator may issue notices to a guardian that he must seek medical attention for his animal. Notices can also apply to an animal’s environment, such as building a raised and insulated shelter.
The investigator will give the animal guardian a time-frame for compliance, and if he or she fails to comply with notices, the investigator can either issue further notices allowing the guardian more time, or apply for a search warrant to seize the animal.
Acting under the law, the BC SPCA is not empowered to remove animals from private property without a search warrant unless those animals would not survive without immediate medical intervention.
Animals may be lacking adequate food, shelter and veterinary care, or even be sick and in pain, but unless they are in immediate danger of dying they are not in critical distress under the law.