The recovery of over 200 abused canines constitutes the largest animal rescue in Alberta’s history
In the largest rescue operation of its kind, the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has removed over 200 abused dogs from a property in Alberta property.
All of the animals had been severely neglected by the owner, with some even suffering from broken limbs.
The SPCA took the animals in and called the situation “one of the worst cases of neglect” they have ever witnessed. One of the dogs later died due to its injuries, while another was euthanized for health complications.
Officers were first called to the rural home in December after a local, who was concerned about the dogs’ welfare, notified the SPCA.
After arriving, on the property, they managed to convince the owner to give up 60 dogs, all of which were immediately transferred to animal rescue and adoption agencies.
“We knew there were still dogs on the property,” said Roland Lines, spokesperson for the SPCA.
At the time, investigators estimated that the 60 dogs were about half of the total in the home.
“Further talk with the owner could not convince the owner to surrender any more of the dogs, so that’s why we ended up getting a search warrant,” said Lines.
Officers returned in January with their warrant and were shocked to find an additional 141 dogs, both puppies and fully grown adults, in various states of distress around the home.
“The majority of the dogs were on chains staked to the ground,” said Lines.
“The chains were of various lengths and some of the dogs were attempting to find shelter underneath abandoned vehicles, old trailers or sheds around the property. It was by no means sufficient shelter. They were doing the best with what they could reach.”
Other animals were also contained in kennelled and fenced off areas.
Deanna Thompson, Executive Director of the Rescue Society, said that the dogs were of various breeds but all living in “horrendous conditions”.
“They were very emaciated,” said Thompson, adding that they looked extraordinarily skinny after having their fur shaved off.
“We had a couple of broken bones, a broken jaw, lots of wounds – likely fighting for whatever little food they had – and one had a large gaping wound that required surgery on his neck.”
Five of the dogs were wolf crossbreeds and have been sent to an Yamnuska sanctuary, who claim the animals are “extremely shy and skittish” and will require rehab to properly integrate.
Thompson said the dogs were very shy around people at first, but are now coming around.
“They’re really good dogs, learning how to trust, sleeping on dog beds and enjoying their three meals a day.”
Lines said investigators are still puzzled over why the owner had so many dogs, since there was no evidence of an animal rescue organization or breeding operation being run.
“We don’t know if the subject started with a small number and bred up to 200. We don’t know if the subject was actively collecting dogs along the way,” said Lines. Charges against the former owner are pending.
The dogs have now been signed over and reside in dozens of shelter and rescue operations across the province. Each animal will be spayed or neutered and rehabilitated before hopefully being adopted into a loving family.