The owner of a property from which animal protection officers seized 61 dogs — many covered in feces and some injured — says he is guilty only of trying to help out strays.
The animals were taken Friday from Peter and Judy Chernecki's home in the Gull Lake area, about 90 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.
Many were coated in filth and staff at the Winnipeg Humane Society worked through the weekend caring for them. Six were euthanized for various reasons, some for injuries believed to have been caused by fighting, according to the humane society's chief executive, Bill McDonald.
"It was a very unsanitary situation. There's absolutely no doubt about it — it was a hoarding situation," he said.
McDonald called it one of the largest cases of neglect the humane society has ever seen.
But Peter Chernecki told CBC News that he and his wife were only trying to help out stray animals abandoned at the local landfill.
"If they were at the garbage dump they'd be dead or they'd be wild now. Then you'd have a pack of wild dogs running around," he said.
'The dogs were in good shape. They weren't starving — nothing like that.'—Peter Chernecki
Chernecki denies the animals in his care were neglected.
"They said they had a tip that we were abusing animals; that the dogs were in the house [with] no water, no food, no nothing," he said.
"Meanwhile, the dogs were all fed, they all had water. The dogs were in good shape. They weren't starving — nothing like that."
McDonald said the dogs were being fed but their home was full of urine and feces. When officials went to pick up the animals, they treated it like a hazardous materials site.
Some neighbours said there was a strong odour from the property.
"Oh, the smell, the odour — and big black flies that we would get from there," said Alice Solypa, who lives down the road from the Cherneckis.
Other neighbours defended the couple, saying their hearts were in the right place.
"The crime is the people who dumped the dogs at the garbage dump and left them there," said resident Byron Elsey.
Authorities have not charged Chernecki or his wife with any offences.