A couple who pleaded guilty to one of Manitoba’s worst cases of animal hoarding defended their actions to a Winnipeg judge on Thursday.

Seized dogs

One of the dogs seized in July 2010 and taken to the Winnipeg Humane Society had its matted and feces-knotted fur shaved down. (Megan Benedictson/CBC)

Judith and Peter Chernecki spoke at a hearing ahead of their sentencing, after pleading guilty last year to seven charges under the Animal Care Act.

A total of 64 dogs were removed from the couple’s Gull Lake property in 2010, many in varying states of distress. Some dogs were covered in feces, others were kept in cramped quarters. Many were malnourished.

The Crown is seeking thousands of dollars in fines and a five-year ban on owning animals for the couple, as well as four months in custody for Peter.

They also want to see the couple cover the costs related of caring for the seized dogs.

chernecki

Peter Chernecki and his wife appeared at a hearing on Thursday ahead of their sentencing in an animal hoarding case. (CBC)

Jay Prober, the couple's lawyer, is asking for probation.

Judith spoke at the sentencing hearing, saying the dogs were loved and had food and water while they were under the couple’s care.

“The dogs ate better than some people eat,” she told the judge. “They had garlic sausages. They had smokies."

She said they did the best they could with what they had, adding flooding on their property lead to poor conditions.

She said she believed they were saving dogs nobody wanted and said there was nowhere to take the animals.

chernecki-pen

The dogs lived in a dwelling separate from the main house and connected to this outdoor pen. (CBC)

Judith maintained the dogs were never abused, and the animals were never hit.

Right now, the couple has 42 cats on the property. When the judge asked Judith what she planned to do with those animals, she said she was going to have them fixed.

She added they were being looked after and loved.

Judith said she was angry about the way the media handled the case and that dogs were removed without a search warrant.

A sentencing hearing for the couple is scheduled for next month.