Charge dropped against Alberta dog breeder who had nearly 200 animals seized by SPCA

Instead of facing a charge under the Animal Protection Act, an Alberta dog breeder will have to pay a $10,000 fine for violating a local bylaw.

But he'll have to pay a $10,000 fine for breaking a local bylaw

In April last year, 131 dogs were seized from Tyler Marshall's property in Vulcan County due to what the SPCA said were unsanitary conditions and unattended health problems. (Kris Ketonen/CBC)

Instead of facing a charge under the Animal Protection Act, an Alberta dog breeder will have to pay a $10,000 fine for violating a local bylaw.

Tyler Marshall was charged with causing an animal to be in distress after 131 dogs, 62 rabbits, eight cats and three tortoises were seized by the SPCA from his rural property in Vulcan County.

Fifty of the animals were eventually returned to Marshall, with the rest of the animals being rehomed.

The charge of causing an animal to be in distress was withdrawn. 

On Oct. 5, he was instead sentenced for contravening a Vulcan bylaw that permits people to own only up to three adult dogs, and Marshall agreed to pay a $10,000 fine.

Marshall's lawyer, Brendan M. Miller, said the charge was dropped as there was no likelihood of a conviction.

The Calgary Humane Society said it wants to see the bylaw changed.

"Many of these animals are young puppies born in foster homes and to return them to less than desirable conditions is heartbreaking. It is with a heavy heart that we return these animals while animal cruelty charges remain before the courts, however, due to a consent order, we are being forced to return these animals at this time," said the Calgary Humane Society in a Facebook post at the time some of the animals were returned to Marshall's care.

"We just hope Vulcan County Council will reconsider reviewing its bylaw which does not recognize puppies in its three animal limit." 

Marshall files civil suit

Marshall said he has filed a civil suit against the Alberta SPCA.

"He looks forward to the matter proceeding so that he can show the public how humanely he treats animals, as well as expose the misconduct of the ASPCA in this case," read an emailed release from Miller.

The SPCA said the fine levied against Marshall sends a strong message to dog breeders that they need to follow municipal regulations and obtain the right permits.

"While we're pleased that message is being sent, we would have preferred a resolution that allows the Alberta SPCA to have ongoing monitoring of Mr. Marshall's animals to ensure they are receiving the appropriate level of care," the organization said in an email.

"Our number one priority in any case is the welfare of the animals. In this case, 150 animals received basic care, important veterinary attention and were ultimately rehomed to loving families."

The SPCA declined to comment on the civil suit.

Marshall runs animal auctions in southern Alberta and operates a Facebook page selling exotic pets.

Last year, he was denied an application in Vulcan County for a permit to set up a new dog breeding operation.

He used to own an Okotoks pet store that shut down after it was vandalized with graffiti claiming Marshall was running a "puppy mill."