15 dogs kept in 'deplorable' conditions had started to eat furniture, walls, police say
Woman who had lived in home charged with animal cruelty
A 35-year-old woman faces multiple charges related to animal cruelty after Winnipeg police found 15 dogs abandoned in a home, left without food or water in conditions police called deplorable.
Five dogs and 10 puppies were left in the house on Home Street in the West End, police said Monday. Urine and feces had built up in the home and the dogs had begun to consume parts of couches, beds and walls.
Police initially went to the home after officers noticed a strong smell while in the neighbourhood for an unrelated investigation on Jan. 4.
"The puppies were all very thin. They were dehydrated, malnourished, all covered in feces, urine soaked, that kind of stuff. One of the puppies also had an ulcer on their eyes," said Leland Gordon, chief operating officer with the city's animal services, at a police news conference Monday.
Gordon said the conditions were among the worst his team has ever seen.
"Some of the dogs were actually pooping drywall at Animal Services. There were pieces of drywall in their feces when they were at our facility."
Animal Services officers and police took the 15 dogs to a City of Winnipeg facility for medical care. The puppies range in age from around three to four months, Gordon said, and the other dogs appear to be younger adults. They're all a bloodhound mix, Gordon said.
The most disturbing part of the investigation was the psychological state of the dogs, he said. Over the past several days, some of them have started to come out of their shells, he said.
At the news conference, Gordon was accompanied by one of the five adult dogs, who has been named Hope. The adult dogs were put up for adoption Monday afternoon, and the puppies will be available soon, Gordon said. He urged members of the public to adopt them.
Not a puppy mill: Police
On Saturday, police arrested a 35-year-old woman in the Richmond West area. She faces three animal cruelty-related charges under the Manitoba Animal Care Act and two under the federal Criminal Code.
The woman had lived in the Home Street house at some point, said Const. Jay Murray, but appears to have stopped living there between a week and a month before police found the dogs.
"It's also incredibly tough to accurately convey the conditions of this house, how deplorable they were," he said.
It doesn't appear the home was a puppy mill, Murray said, although the woman said she had initially considered selling some of the puppies online.
"We think there was a combination of some other things going on in her life, and essentially was just overwhelmed," he said.
Murray and Gordon stressed the importance of reporting suspected animal abuse or neglect, and of asking for help if you feel overwhelmed by your pets.
"If you need help, reach out to friends, family, animal shelters, rescues [or] social services," Murray said.
Suspected animal cruelty or neglect should be reported to the Provincial Animal Care Line at 204-945-8000. You can also find more information about social services online.