VANCOUVER -- Dozens of dogs were seized this week after they were found in distress and their owner refused to improve their living conditions in a substantial way, according to the BC SPCA.

The animal welfare agency said 40 dogs were removed from a sled dog operation just outside of Salmo, in the West Kootenay region. They were taken on Tuesday after animal protection officers executed a search warrant on the property.

According to the SPCA, the animals had inadequate shelter and were suffering from hypothermia and possible dehydration. 

"In 2012, the province of British Columbia, veterinarians, the BC SPCA and the sled dog industry jointly created Canada's first sled dog code of practice, which sets out standards of care for the health and welfare of sled dogs," Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer, said in a news release.

"The code includes standards for housing, feeding, veterinary care, exercise and socialization, grooming and transportation."

Moriarty says the conditions on that property violated parts of the code of practice.

"Our officers worked with this individual, providing clear direction on what changes needed to be made and giving him an opportunity to improve conditions," she said.

"But he refused to substantially comply with certain areas of the code that resulted in the dogs meeting the definition of distress under the legislation, and so we moved forward with a warrant to ensure the dogs got the care they required."

Some of the dogs that were seized were part of a "behavioural modification" service and boarding operation also running on the property, the SPCA says.

The dogs were taken to various SPCA locations where they're receiving veterinarian care.

The SPCA says the animal cruelty investigation is ongoing and the dogs aren't available for adoption at this time.