The BC SPCA is pursuing animal cruelty charges against a former breeder after 45 neglected dogs were rescued from a property outside of Victoria, B.C.

The former breeder surrendered the Havanese-mix dogs to the BC SPCA on Thursday after the organization received a tip on their animal cruelty line. The small dogs’ fur was matted and coated with feces and urine, according to the BC SPCA. The animals were living in conditions the BC SPCA described as “unacceptable,” which included exposure to high levels of ammonia.

Annie Prittie Bell, the branch manager for the BC SPCA in Victoria, helped care for the dogs when they were brought in to her location after the rescue.

“This is the worst case that I have ever seen in here,” Prittie Bell told CTV Vancouver Island on Monday.

The employees at the Victoria SPCA branch were initially expecting half the number of dogs to arrive at the facility and were forced to close the shelter and send their other animals to foster care to accommodate the new arrivals.

“We had three intake stations, three grooming stations, which soon became six grooming stations,” Prittie Bell said. “We pulled in volunteer vets, groomers, we had 20 staff on site.”

Marcie Moriarty, the BC SPCA's chief prevention and enforcement officer, said the dogs’ matted fur required “extensive” bathing and grooming before staff could assess the animals’ medical condition.

The BC SPCA said it is pursuing cruelty charges against the former dog breeder.

“She’s clearly demonstrated she’s not able to look after these animals,” Moriarty said in a phone interview. “The fear or concern is always that the individual will start up again.”

The dogs have been split up and sent to various SPCA shelters on Vancouver Island before they will be put up for adoption.

The BC SPCA is appealing to the public for donations for the rescued dogs as well as other animals in their care.

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island’s Kennedy Schmidt