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CONVICTED: Was justice served?
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When you vote, you are voting on whether or not the punishment fit the crime, NOT on the severity of the case itself. If you feel the sentence was very weak, you would vote 1 star. If you feel the sentence was very strong, you would vote 5 stars.
Please vote honestly and realistically. These ratings will be used a a tool for many future programs, including a "Peoples Choice" of best and worst sentencing, DA and judge "report cards", and more. Try to resist the temptation to vote 1 star on every case, even if you feel that 100 years in prison isnt enough.
Tuesday, Aug 1, 2006
» Thomas Spooner
» Darlene Spooner
The animal control officers could smell the sickening odor from the road. As they got closer to the house, they could hear swarms of flies buzzing. The property was strewn with garbage and animal carcasses.
A Lab-husky cross was tethered to a heavy chain outside the house next to a decomposing goat head.
There was no shelter for the dog, which slept in the dirt underneath a camperized van next to the house.
The inside was worse. The house reeked.
Twenty cats had been been kept locked inside, living in their own urine and feces.
The floors were covered in so much animal waste that the officers couldn't see the surface.
Window ledges, kitchen counters and the inside of pots and pans were also filled with feces and the place was crammed with piles of garbage.
The ammonia levels from the urine were so strong that it was difficult for nauseated SPCA officers to stay inside, even while using ventilators.
Investigators suffered dizziness, breathing trouble, headaches and diarrhea for several days after.
The residents of the house had moved into the van, where they lived with another 28 cats in equally gross conditions.
Because of the extended exposure to high levels of ammonia, the cats were suffering from lung ailments, eye problems and scalding of their foot pads as well as muscle atrophy, diarrhea, internal parasites and ear mites.
Of the 48 cats seized, 27 were so ill they had to be put down.
The others were adopted out.
The raid was carried out in August of 2006 in the small community of Dunster between Valemount and McBride near the Alberta border.
It wasn't the first time the SPCA had paid a visit to Thomas and Darlene Spooner.
The animal protection agency had previously removed 25 other cats and one horse from the couple.
The Spooners moved to Surrey after the raid.
They eventually pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges.
A judge has now banned them from owning more than five animals between them for the next 10 years.
They must have their pets examined by a veterinarian annually and provide a written report from the vet to the BC SPCA.
"In my five years as an investigator, this was the worst situation I have ever encountered," animal protection officer Const. Debbie Goodine said.
"Nothing else even comes close."
Marcie Moriarty, manager of cruelty investigations for the BC SPCA called the case "particularly disturbing."
"Not only were all the animals living in extremely poor and unhealthy conditions, but the people were as well," Moriarty said.
The Spooners could not be reached.