More than 400 dogs and puppies were seized late Friday from a large-scale commercial breeding facility in the Outaouais that officials called the worst case of its kind ever in Canada.
“By far, this was the largest commercial breeding facility, involving some of the most inhumane conditions, that our animal rescue team has ever encountered in Canada,” Lauren Scott, of Humane Society International Canada said in a news release. “Hundreds of dogs were denied their most basic needs and proper care and lacked adequate socialization.”
The owner of the family-run Clarendon facility, however, called the raid groundless.
“I’m not doing anything wrong,” said Charlene Labombard, 66, who owns Paws “R” Us kennel near Shawville, about 90 km northwest of Ottawa. “The public is happy with it. We clean and disinfect every day.”
The kennel has been operating since 1996 and carries 40 breeds, selling for $300 to $500 each.
ANIMA-Quebec staff showed up at about 9:30 a.m. Friday for a two-hour inspection, which was videotaped by the owners.
They returned, Labombard said, at 4:30 p.m. with two officers and a warrant.
By 5 p.m., roughly 40 more people showed up with two transport trucks.
HSI Canada, in partnership with the province and local law enforcement, began taking the dogs, saying they’re not receiving proper care.
But Labombard says her family loves animals and the dogs were doing just fine with them, adding customers have been filling her online guestbook with compliments since 2001.
“My daughter is an animal-care specialist. The other one is a trainer,” Labombard said, adding a couple of dogs did have skin conditions and lice.
“They’ve shut me down. I’ll never be able to recover from this.”
The dogs were taken by truckload to an emergency shelter where they will be cared for, checked by a team of veterinarians, and given any necessary veterinary care.
HSI Canada spokesman Dean Pogas said investigators worked throughout the night to assess and examine the animals.
The historic seizure comes days before the government of Quebec is expected to release the province’s updated animal welfare regulations.
Animal welfare groups believe these updates will help to crack down on the province’s worst puppy mill operations partially through increased penalties.