CALGARY – Suffering malnutrition, serious injuries and severe neglect, 201 dogs have been seized from a rural property in southern Alberta.
Alberta’s SPCA is now building a case to charge the owner of the property, about 300 km southeast of Calgary, who has had problems with animal welfare authorities previously in both Alberta and Saskatchewan.
SPCA spokesman Roland Lines said the seizure is the largest in the organization’s history, and the condition the dogs were allegedly forced to live in were not close to humane.
“They were all malnourished and dehydrated,” he said.
“The dogs were found mostly just on chains staked around the property — they were sheltering under vehicles and sheds that weren’t appropriate for the winter weather.”
An SPCA investigator went to the property — whose owner the Sun has learned is April Irving — just before Christmas following a complaint from the public, Lines said.
The officer convinced the owner to voluntarily relinquish 60 of the animals, but feared many more were unaccounted for on the sprawling property.
A team of investigators, rescue agency personnel and a veterinarian returned with a search warrant Jan. 13, seizing another 141 dogs.
Lines said one puppy seized didn’t survive and another dog was euthanized based on a veterinarian’s advice — four additional puppies were also found dead on the property.
After a 10-day period for the owner to apply for their return expired last week, the surviving 139 joined the first 60 in the care of the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society.
AARCS executive director Deanna Thompson said the agency has farmed out the dogs to partner organizations while they recover from the ordeal.
But it will take time, with many of the emaciated animals still fearful and in poor health.
“We’ve seen a lot of neglect and abuse cases but this by far has to be the worst,” she said, noting the group includes a puppy with a broken jaw and another with a broken leg.
Thompson said it will likely be quite some time before any of the dogs are available for adoption.
Those looking to help in the meantime can donate to AARCS or other southern Alberta rescue agencies, volunteer to help foster the crush of animals, or volunteer time.
“It will cost thousands and thousands to spay and neuter them and provide proper medical care,” Thompson said.