Eve Mitchell says she’s happy to be reunited with her two year-old dog Kera.

Kera was one of 40 dogs seized this week by the BC SPCA after the group executed a search warrant at Spirit of the North Kennels, a sled dog operation in the West Kootenay region. The facility also offers boarding and behavioural modification training.

Mitchell says she received a call from the SPCA saying her dog was being taken to one of the group’s locations.

“We haven’t really got a lot of information because it’s an ongoing investigation,” she said. “It was awful. I was actually shocked. We were under the impression that she was in a great place, so to hear that was shocking. It was hard for us to believe, actually.”

In a news release, the SPCA says it received a number of welfare concerns about the facility from the public, including “inadequate shelter, hypothermia, suspected dehydration and stereotypical behaviour witnessed in some of the dogs.”

Marcie Moriarty, the group’s chief prevention and enforcement officer, said the property owner has received warnings.

“We attended the property and were attempting to work with the owner, but there was not substantial compliance,” she said.

Mitchell says her dog came back with a broken canine tooth.

“She's on pain medication right now,” Mitchell said. “They think it's from biting at the cage because it’s pretty hard to break a canine.”

Kera is also missing fur on her neck and has skin issues, Mitchell added.

“Whatever food they were feeding her, she was having reactions from it,” she said. “They were saying that they couldn't even touch her because it would stimulate her so much because she was in so much pain.”

It’s not the first time concerns have been raised about the property. Former volunteer Rory Knihnicki tells CTV News she reached out to the BC SPCA two years ago, but felt nothing was done.

Natasha Hewer also took her dog to the property for behavioural therapy in 2019, saying he came back “at least eight pounds lighter.”

“He was super skinny, he had ribs showing, kind of, which he hadn’t before,” Hewer told CTV News in an interview. “He had punctures like around his throat area, different little wounds that were in different stages of healing, so I don’t know if he had got into a fight or something there.”

She says he also had sores between his toes from standing on unsanitary ground, such as in his own feces.

The facility’s owner, Al Magaw, told CTV News over the phone that he disputes the claims his dogs were in distress or poorly housed.

“My dog houses meet every dot over an ‘I’ and cross over a ‘T’ in the rules and laws for sled dogs in British Columbia,” he said. “This is absolutely unexpected, I’ve had my dogs 43 years and loved every minute of it, loved every dog, I do my absolute best for them.”

He says he plans to fight the allegations.