The owner of a Montérégie-area fur farm has been charged with six counts of animal cruelty and neglect after an investigation by the Montreal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The SPCA said the charges faced by Jean-Luc Rodier relate to 90 foxes, 10,000 mink and two dogs held captive in his Ste-Jude, Que., facility.
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Rodier could face up to 18 months in jail and $10,000 in fines for each count, as well as a lifetime ban on having an animal in his custody or under his control.
"This is the first time that a fur farmer has ever been charged with animal cruelty in Canada," said Anita Kapuscinska of the SPCA.
In August, CBC News reported on the SPCA’s investigation into Rodier’s farm.
The animal welfare agency began looking into his fur farm south of Montreal in the spring and obtained a warrant to investigate last May.
SPCA director of animal advocacy Alanna Devine told CBC News in August that she was horrified when she arrived at the farm.
"Animals not having access to adequate water, large amounts of excrement, filthy cages … the sort of things that would be outrageous if we saw dogs … wired bottom cages, no access to a solid floor," said Devine. "Difficult things to see."
Rodier convicted in 1996
Rodier has faced accusations of animal cruelty and negligence in the past. In 1996, he was charged with 262 counts of cruelty to animals and negligence — that time, towards dogs.
He was found guilty on 32 counts of negligence, while the rest of the charges were thrown out.
Devine said some elements of the law have changed since Rodier's 1996 conviction, namely that now prosecutors can ask for a lifetime prohibition on having animals in offenders' custody and care.
She said the charges laid against Rodier are a good step, but that Canadians should be more aware of the larger issue at hand.
"There are elements of the way that these animals are kept on fur farms across Canada that are absolutely inhumane but which are still perfectly legal," Devine told CBC News Monday.
She said the SPCA has launched a campaign focused on ending fur farming in Canada called Make Fur History.
The SPCA is responsible for investigating allegations of animal abuse in Quebec.