The SPCA said Thursday that Zhou — the focus of previous SPCA probes — was charged by Crown counsel under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act after 67 cats, 12 dogs and three puppies were seized from her property Feb. 16.
Zhou, 50, the owner of Pet Daycare Grooming and Sales, denies disease was an issue at her facility.
Zhou caters primarily to customers in the local Chinese community, advertising exclusively in Chinese. Speaking through an interpreter, she told CBC News she has done nothing wrong and that any trouble she's had with regulations is due to her inability to speak English.
Former customers suing
But CBC News has learned two of Zhou's former customers have filed small claims lawsuits against her.
One of the complainants alleges their cat became very ill after an incomplete declawing operation, requiring additional surgery.
Another complainant, Ming Zhang, says she returned home from a 40-day trip to China to discover one of the two dogs she had boarded at the facility had died — a pet she'd owned for 12 years.
"I ask her 'where is my two dogs.' She told us one of my dog was dead 10 days ago. I keep asking her, 'What happened, why my dog is dead here and you didn't tell me?'" she said.
Zhang says she later saw her dog's body on the floor of a bathroom in the facility, covered with a sheet.
Zhou has not filed a legal response to these claims and they have not been proven in court.
The seized cats were primarily Persians and short-haired exotics, while the dogs included four French bulldogs, a Boston terrier, a Pomeranian with three puppies, a Chihuahua, a poodle, a Rottweiler, a Doberman, a Jack Russell terrier and a Shiba Inu.
“In this most recent case, we executed a warrant because we received information that Zhou was failing to provide adequate care for the animals who were currently in her custody,” said Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the B.C. SPCA.
Most of the animals, which required months of treatment, have since been adopted, although some had to be euthanized, Moriarty said.
“We are extremely pleased these charges have been approved,” said Moriarty. “The fact that we had to seize large numbers of animals from her on more than one occasion demonstrates that education is not enough in this case. If convicted, we would be very supportive of a ban on owning, caring for, breeding or boarding animals.”
If convicted, the maximum sentence for Zhou is a $75,000 fine, two years in jail and a possible lifetime ban on owning animals.
(The Province - November 24, 2016)
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