North Bay woman found with 600 rats 'was a hoarder', neighbour says
North Bay woman, 51, charged with animal cruelty after 600 rats were removed from her apartment
The landlord of a woman facing animal abuse charges — after hundreds of rats were found in her apartment — says the charges should be dropped.
John Wilson looks after the North Bay building where more than 600 rats were removed from an apartment.
The fire department removed the rodents last month, after a neighbour complained.
Wilson says the 51-year-old female tenant is not mentally well.
"The woman does not need to be going to jail," he told CBC Radio-Canada.
"This was an illness, not a criminal act. She isn't capable of committing a criminal act. She has a form of what they call hoarding. And frankly, it is a mental issue. It is not a criminal issue."
Wilson says the damage caused by the rats is estimated at $ 25,000, and says he has started proceedings to evict the tenant.
He also says she suffers from mental illness.
"She does not need to be charged. She needs treatment. She is on ODSP. This is an illness, not a criminal act … things just got out of control."
'There's probably more in there'
The neighbour who called the fire department agrees.
Lina Timm lives in the apartment next door to the woman — who she says had bite marks on her lips and arms from the rats.
It was Timm who alerted the municipal fire department because she was worried — and feared the rodents would cause a fire.
"I went down to the station and I talked to them, because I was concerned for her health," she said.
"And when they went in there, they pulled out 610 rats. And there's probably still more in there. I was concerned for her. She's an animal hoarder. She thought these were her babies ... like, she raised them."
The woman voluntarily surrendered all of the rats into the care of the humane society.
Many partner organizations assisted in relocating the rats, including Ontario SPCA animal centres in Midland, Muskoka, Barrie, Orillia, Orangeville, Cornwall, Renfrew, Napanee, Brockville, Sudbury and the Provincial Education & Animal Centre, located just outside Newmarket.
The woman is scheduled to appear in a North Bay court in February to answer to the following OSPCA charges:
- Permitting distress
- Failing to provide sanitary living conditions
- Failing to provide care necessary for general welfare
- Failing to provide adequate and appropriate medical attention
Daryl Vaillancourt of the North Bay and District Humane Society says "animal cruelty laws will be enforced to ensure accountability for those who fail to provide appropriate care of an animal."
Vaillancourt argues that, in the circumstances, his team had no choice but to act — and it's for the court to determine if the accused is responsible for the situation