A dog breeder near Leslie, Sask., who had more than 80 dogs seized says she is being unfairly targeted by the Saskatchewan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Eighty-three dogs, including five litters of puppies, were seized June 4 from April Irvine's acreage by RCMP and the SPCA after officials received complaints about animals in distress.
The SPCA said they had received a number of complaints, and the animals did not have proper food, water or shelter. At the SPCA shelter in Saskatoon, officials said some of the animals, which appeared to be huskies, wolfhounds and malamutes, were filthy and had matted fur.
However, Irvine, who has been charged with neglect of animals and causing distress to animals, strongly denies the dogs were mistreated and has asked a Saskatoon judge to give them back.
"I have lots of excellent references from professional people," she said. "They know I love my dogs and they love me. And I'm … sick. They're my babies. I spend all day serving them running around, and now I'm out chasing legal things, and my dogs are in severe distress."
She said she's asked what she has to do to improve things in her yard, but no one at the SPCA will give her a clear answer.
"It seems the SPCA in Canada has free licence to harass, bully, intimidate and threaten a private citizen," she said.
She says her acreage is not perfect, but she feels "absolutely wretched" about the seizure.
"We live outside on a full five acres of breeze, trees, sunlight," she said. "They have huge runs, corrals over 100 feet around, they all have brand new doghouses, stainless steel buckets, antique crocks to drink out of."
When asked what would have prompted numerous complaints to the SPCA, she said passers-by on Highway 16 don't understand how sled dogs are raised.
"If I had 200 cows in my front yard, there wouldn't be a problem," she said. "My dogs are spoiled rotten. Sledders come to my yard and they're absolutely amazed."
Irvine is scheduled to appear in a Wadena courtroom on her charges on June 24.