A Hamilton man has been sentenced to 140 days in jail after 17 dogs died in his care and 13 others were found living in what the SPCA calls deplorable conditions.  

The sentence is one of the longest anyone in Hamilton has ever received for animal cruelty charges, says Vivian Laflamme, the program manager for animal protection and advocacy at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA.

The charges stem from the summer of 2011, when SPCA officers were called to a home in central Hamilton.

They found 13 rottweiler/boxer-type dogs living in filth, debris and feces in a dark house with no airflow. “It was horrific,” Laflamme told CBC Hamilton. “The smell that was emitting from that home was just horrific.”

'We depend on citizens to speak for animals who can’t speak for themselves.'- Vivian Laflamme, program manager for animal protection and advocacy at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA

“You could smell it from the street.”

The dogs were taken to a local vet to be examined. Several of them had healthy body weights, but were “infested with fleas, and covered in urine and feces,” according to an SPCA news release.

Those dogs were rescued from what Laflamme says was a breeding facility — but 17 others died in the man’s care, she says. Many of the animals had a viral disease called parvo, which attacks the intestines.

“It was literally eating away at their intestines,” Laflamme said. But instead of seeking proper medical help, he tried to treat them on his own using tips on the internet.

There is no way a person could adequately treat a dog with parvo using advice gleaned online, Laflamme told CBC Hamilton. “This is a very deadly disease for these dogs.”

The dogs stayed in the SPCA’s care for almost three weeks before being put up for adoption.

Donald Dillon was found guilty of several animal cruelty charges on March 12, and was sentenced to 140 days in jail.

He is also banned from owning any animal except for fish for 25 years.

This is the first time anyone in Hamilton has received such a weighty sentence for animal cruelty. Laflamme says it was handed down because the courts and investigators were “simply shocked” by how these animals are treated.

The SPCA is also reminding people that they are here to help any animals found in distress throughout the city.

“We depend on citizens to speak for animals who can’t speak for themselves.”