April Irving, the woman accused of hoarding more than 200 dogs on a property where she lives in Milk River, Alta., says she was trying to find homes for many of her dogs before the Alberta SPCA seized them in mid-January. 

The 55-year-old has now filed a lawsuit against the organization to get her dogs back.

Officials say the dogs were emaciated, dirty with matted fur, dehydrated and suffering. Some had broken bones or open wounds infested with parasites, and many still require medical attention. Two of them died.

AARCS Milk River, Alta. dog rescue

One of the dogs is groomed following what is being called the largest removal of canines in Alberta's history. (AARCS/Facebook)

Irving told CBC News she realized she needed to find homes for her dogs, and that she called many rescue organizations — such as the Alberta Animal Rescue Crews Society and the SPCA — looking for help.

"I didn't want all of them, that's why I surrendered an amount of them," she said in a written statement. "I had literally slaved (obviously) 18 hour days … to meet their needs, non-stop, every day. I gave attention to deworming and vaccination schedule as well as other medical attention, also including getting up every half hour all night for newborns etc., as an example."

However, the Alberta Animal Rescue Crews Society​ executive director Deanna Thompson said her organization was never contacted.

In the end, Irving voluntarily surrendered 60 of her dogs to the SPCA on Dec. 23.

She told CBC News that SPCA officers agreed to give her until the end of January to pick a small core group of dogs to keep and find homes for the remaining ones.

Threats made

The agreement, she said, was that if she didn't find homes for them herself she would surrender the remaining 141 dogs to the SPCA.

dog

One of the 201 dogs seized from an acreage in southern Alberta recovers in a shelter in Red Deer. (Red Deer SPCA/Facebook)

Irving said she has always "fully co-operated" with the SPCA and other officials involved in checking on the welfare of the dogs.

"This was an agreement between them and me in my yard when I surrendered them," she said.

But she said SPCA officers arrived on Jan. 13 to seize all of the remaining 141 dogs. 

Many of the animals have been placed in foster homes or shelters across Alberta. No charges have yet been laid, but SPCA officials said they plan to do so soon.

When asked if she would try to get more dogs, Irving said, "No. I'm not going to turn around and do that, no, not at all."

But this is not the first time dogs have been seized from her home. Irving has a past conviction for animal neglect in Saskatchewan and also faced four charges under Alberta's Animal Protection Act related to dogs she kept in Fort McMurray, although the charges were later dropped.

Irving also expressed fear for her personal safety and said there have been threats made against her since the story of her dogs surfaced.