Puppy mill, West Dalhousie

One of 24 dogs seized from an alleged puppy mill in West Dalhousie, N.S. (SPCA)

An Annapolis Valley couple is now facing animal cruelty charges after the SPCA seized 28 animals from their West Dalhousie property earlier this month.

Nova Scotia SPCA spokesperson Courtney Zylstra said the couple was operating a puppy mill. Twenty-four dogs, including some newborn puppies, and four rabbits were seized by a cruelty investigations team on Feb. 11.

The couple was over-breeding "for the purposes of reproducing a specific breed of dog for sale," Zylstra said. All of the dogs were small breeds, including Pomeranians and bichons. 

"They were found severely matted," Zylstra said. "A lot of the animals were urine-stained from having been left in their own feces and urine. So they were quite dirty.

"Many of them had some pretty terrible mats that had to be removed to relieve them of that distress. As well as the usual worms and a couple other parasites." 

The couple is charged with failure to provide the animals with sanitary conditions, water, enough space for exercise and protection from the cold. They are also charged with causing the animals to be in distress and not providing adequate medical attention.

Obstruction of an officer

Zylstra said the couple is also facing a charge of interference and obstruction of an officer.

"That charge refers to interfering with removing the animals from the property, or interfering with an officer who has legal right to be on the property." 

The animals are now in the possession of the Nova Scotia SPCA and receiving veterinary care. They cannot be put up for adoption, Zylstra said, because the SPCA does not yet own them.

The organization is simply holding them while the investigation is ongoing.

"At this point we are getting a lot of calls regarding the adoption of these animals," Zylstra said. "This is still an ongoing investigation so we're not accepting pre-approval applications … we are holding [the dogs] while the investigation is ongoing."