Couple whose 91 animals seized from feces-caked home fined $12K
Warning: Story contains graphic images and details. Couple ordered to pay $6K each and can't own any rabbits
Warning: Story contains graphic images and details.
The couple whose 91 rabbits, hamsters, dog and cat were living in a foot and a half of feces have been handed $12,000 in fines and are only ever allowed to own one animal at a time.
"[It's] one of the worst houses I've been in," said Brad Nichols, the Calgary Humane Society's senior manager of animal cruelty investigations.
Anthony and Christine Berry pleaded guilty in March to a charge of allowing animals to be in distress.
On Thursday Provincial Court Judge Allan Fradsham ordered each to pay a $6,000 fine and ruled they can only own one dog or one cat that has been sterilized.
Crown prosecutor Gord Haight told Fradsham that he would have sought a higher fine but Christine Berry is unemployed and the couple's home is under foreclosure.
"[I'm] quite happy with the sentence," said Nichols. "It reflects the egregious nature of the offences."
Because of the stress stemming from "bad press" relating to the seizure and court process, the couple's marriage broke down and they are getting divorced, said the Berry's lawyer Paul Brunnen.
"This has been quite an ordeal for both of them," said Brunnen. "It's taken a huge toll on their relationship."
When officers seized 91 animals from a home in Erinwoods in August 2014, some were missing eyes and some had to be dug out of their cages because they were buried in the feces.
There were 69 rabbits, 20 hamsters, one dog and one cat, of which 47 rabbits and hamsters were in such poor condition, they had to be euthanized.
While in the home, lead investigator, Jill Gibson said Anthony Berry pulled a knife on responding officers.
"A little bit unnerving, a bit scary," she said of the situation. "I think we all sort of got caught up in the animal cruelty stuff. We were more concerned about the animals to be honest."
Brunnen told the court that Christine Berry broke her leg in 2014 and the duties of caring for the animals fell on her husband who became overwhelmed by the task.
The Berrys have two years to pay their fines.