Ndilo man sues NWT SPCA for $35K for seizing 11 dogs

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NWT SPCA trial postponed at last minute, judge urges sides to resolve case out of court

A man in Ndilo says the local SPCA, with help from RCMP, illegally seized 11 of his dogs. Now he wants the the non-profit group to pay him $35,000 in damages. 

Mark Lafferty, 51, wasn't home when the NWT SPCA and RCMP officers came to look at his dogs on his property on May 17, 2016.

SPCA president Nicole Spencer says she had received at least three complaints saying the dogs were distressed and "thinning by the week."

She says she saw the dogs firsthand and that they were "extremely thin" and had bowed legs, which is a sign of malnutrition.

Under the authorization of Yellowknife RCMP, the SPCA took 11 of at least 15 dogs to the Great Slave Animal Hospital where the veterinarian treated them for malnutrition and dehydration, Spencer says.

But Lafferty says the dogs weren't starving. He says he cared for them and fed them fish and chicken twice a day. 

Most of the dogs were young puppies and Lafferty says he was raising them for mushing. 

"I've been doing it my whole life," he said. 

Lafferty says the dogs would have been worth a lot of money.

Case goes to trial

In a Yellowknife courtroom Monday, the SPCA's lawyer, Ed Gullberg, tried to get the judge to dismiss the case. 

He said under the territorial Dog Act, the seizure was legal because it was done "in good faith."

But Judge Robert Gorin said the SPCA should make that defense during a trial, where Lafferty will also get the chance to make his case.

Outside the courthouse Lafferty said all he wants is to get his dogs back, but they've been adopted out.

In her nine years on the board of directors for the NWT SPCA, Spencer says the organization has never been sued.

She says if Lafferty wins, she's not sure where the SPCA will get the $35,000. The SPCA is a non-profit that relies mostly on private donations.

A trial date has not been set and the allegations have not been tested in court.