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Animals seized from pet hoarder

SPCA investigators worked into Wednesday's early morning hours catching and processing numerous animals seized from a "hoarding situation" on Baldwin Road in Abbotsford.

The final tally of animals seized was 57 cats, three dogs and two birds, in one of the largest SPCA seizures in Abbotsford in recent memory.

Marcy Moriarty, the SPCA manager of cruelty investigations, said the animals all met the criteria for seizure, being "in distress."

The house was deemed to be not suitable for occupancy, and was wrapped by police tape on Wednesday.

She called it "a classic case of hoarding" animals.

Moriarty said the occupant, a 65-year-old woman, even though she is apparently an animal lover, may face animal cruelty charges. The agency is still investigating.

"A hoarding situation does not absolve the person from responsibility," she said. "The suffering that can occur from these conditions is very serious for the animals."

She said the ammonia levels from pet urine in the house was dangerously high.

"The health of our constables, when they were executing the warrant, was definitely a concern."

She said charging the woman may allow the courts to impose legal limitations on how many pets she can own in the future, order counseling if that is deemed necessary, or take whatever other action will avoid a similar situation in future.

Abbotsford Police attended to keep the peace, and Const. Ian MacDonald said they arranged for victim's assistance for the woman, who was not allowed to stay in her home.

MacDonald said the situation highlights the need for people to look out for one another, and not let their neighbours become isolated.

"We want to encourage people to stay connected with each other. If they think there's something going on with their neighbour, they should call police."

He referred to last week's case when neighbours eventually made police aware of a 75-year-old man who had not been seen. He was found, immobilized, in a house that was filled with debris, and called dangerously unclean.

MacDonald said he appreciates neighbours in such situations "don't want to get that person in trouble," but said they should recognize when agencies with legal authority need to be involved.

"They (neighbours) could be saving lives – or in this case, the lives of animals."

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