A local woman has been charged with Causing Unnecessary Suffering to Dogs according to the RCMP.
Linda Hobson, 66, of Hay River has been charged with Causing Unnecessary Suffering to Dogs under the Criminal Code and Allowing a Dog to Remain Unfed or Unwatered Sufficiently Long Enough to Amount to Cruelty under the Territorial Dog Act after RCMP members received a tip from a near-by resident. It was suggested that a number of dogs were in distress.
The SPCA also received photographs of dogs allegedly on the property showing signs of neglect.
The RCMP executed a search warrant, finding 109 dogs on the property in various levels of health.
Two veterinarians were called in from High Level, Alberta in order to assist the police. Three dogs were put down for humanitarian reasons.
According to town officials, a majority of the dogs are still on the property.
“The dogs are still in her care,” said Mayor Kelly Schofield. “The Town will be making sure the dogs are taken care of.”
Twenty-three of the dogs, all puppies and young dogs, have been removed and taken to the Hay River SPCA under instruction of the Town.
“We did receive complaints [about this property] this time around, and we have received complaints in the past,” said newly-elected SPCA president Jennifer Larkin. “But we are not an authority figure. We are an organization that cares for animals. We have to direct people to the RCMP.”
The SPCA opted to take in the 23 puppies not only because they need the most care, but because it allows them to take in a larger number. They are only involved with the animals at the shelter, not those remaining at the kennel.
Bonnie Dawson, a local animal rights activist and founder of Action for the Protection of Northern Animals, was appalled by the photographs of the animals.
“The conditions of the hoarding situation didn’t happen over night,” she said. “It didn’t happen over a few months. It was a prolonged situation.”
Under the current town bylaws, no household can be in possession of more than two dogs without permission from Council. Any kennel must be registered under the Business Licence Bylaw.
There are also rules and regulations regarding proper animal care and shelter but without a bylaw officer, it is difficult for these laws to be enforced.
“It is fine to have bylaws, but unless it is enforced, nothing is going to change,” said Dawson. “I don’t care how they do it, but it needs to be done. If nothing is done, it will only get worse.”
Hobson has been released with a court date of July 21 at the Hay River Territorial Court.
Attempts to contact her by press time were unsuccessful.