The objective of every investigation is to relieve and prevent the distress of an animal through education, cooperation, and if necessary prosecution under the law. Initially, an investigator may issue orders to an owner that, for example, he must take his ailing cat to a vet or have a farrier look at his horse's overgrown hoofs. Orders can also apply to an animal's environment, such as requiring a dog owner to build a proper, raised and insulated shelter for a dog he keeps outside all day. The BC SPCA has a legal obligation to provide the animal owner with "an opportunity to relieve the animals distress." As such, orders are issues and time for compliance is given.
If an animal owner fails to comply with orders, the investigator can either issue further orders allowing the owner more time, or apply for a search warrant to seize the animal.
The BC SPCA is not empowered to go in and remove animals from private property without a search warrant unless those animals are in 'critical' distress, which means they would not survive without immediate medical intervention.
Animals may be lacking adequate food, shelter and veterinary care, or even be sick and in pain, but unless they are in immediate danger of dying they are not in critical distress under the law.