An Ottawa Valley woman has been charged with animal cruelty after 38 dogs were found in what the head of a local rescue agency described as "traumatizing" conditions. The incident highlights the ongoing issue of backyard breeders, also known as puppy mills, who continue to operate despite increased awareness about animal welfare concerns.
The discovery was made when police were called to a property in Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan Township, west of Ottawa near Barry's Bay, Ont., on Tuesday afternoon. The dogs were found living in cages in absolute filth. All of the male dogs were caged, while the females were just roaming free, according to Laura Pelkey, the president and founder of Riverview Rescues, who was called to the scene.
Pelkey was horrified by the scene and described the dogs' living conditions as "traumatizing." She rescued 22 of the dogs on the same day and returned twice more last week to rescue the remaining animals. The rescued dogs were all suffering from various medical issues, including Lyme disease, tumours, bites to the face, and even a prolapsed rectum. Pelkey rescued the dogs, which ranged in age from five days old to 11 years old, and described their immediate need for foster families.
Since Riverview Rescues is a volunteer-run organization, Pelkey and her team were actively searching for foster homes or other rescue agencies to help. Eighteen of the rescued dogs went to other rescue agencies, while one was taken into a foster home. As for the remaining 19 dogs, they are still looking for homes. However, due to their severe behavioural and health issues, none of the dogs will be available for permanent adoption.
The dogs' owner, Tracy Knight, 40, was charged with cruelty to animals and causing damage or injury to an animal by failing to provide adequate food, water, care, or shelter. Knight was released from custody and is due to appear in court in Killaloe, Ont., in May.
This incident of animal cruelty highlights the continued issue of backyard breeders, which have been a long-standing problem in the United States and Canada. Backyard breeders often operate without regulation, and animals in their care are often subjected to inhumane conditions. According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the country, while the Canadian Kennel Club estimates there are between 150 and 200 puppy mills in Canada.
As people become more aware of the issue, there has been increased pressure on lawmakers to regulate the industry and put an end to the cruelty. The Humane Society of the United States has been actively campaigning for animal welfare reforms, including more stringent regulations on breeding, care, and housing standards. Additionally, several states in the US and provinces in Canada have introduced legislation aimed at cracking down on puppy mills.
The issue of backyard breeders remains a concern for animal lovers and activists, who continue to push for greater regulation and stricter enforcement of animal welfare laws. Until then, incidents like this one in Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan Township serve as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to protect animals from abuse and neglect.