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Charges laid in animal cruelty case

 Shannon LeClair  

Times Reporter   
 
On July 31, the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) served summons to the Oops--Dazy Animal Society and Debra Elaine and Edward G. Michel. Two charges were laid against the society and four charges each laid against the Michels. Their first court appearance is set for Sept. 11, at 9:30 a.m. in the Siksika Nation Provincial Courthouse. 
The SPCA previously seized 45 animals. From those, 42 animals were returned to the Oops-a-Dazy society and three animals went back to their owners. There were 20 cats seized, one of which was found deceased; the rest of the cats had to be euthanized for health reasons. The property in Gleichen was the largest foster home assigned by the Oops-a-Dazy society.
Roland Lines, communications manager for the Alberta SPCA, said the charges fall under Section 2.1 of the Animal Protection Act, which states that a person did cause or permit animals to be or continue to be in distress and Section 2.1, subsection (b), which relates to failing to provide animals with adequate care, when animals are wounded or ill.
“One of the counts relates to the dogs we removed from the property and the other count relates to the cats,” said Lines.
When the officers lay charges they typically lay one charge for multiple animals of one species, which all have similar problems relating to the charges.
 “In coming up with the charges, our officer believed that the society bears some responsibility for the fact that the animals were in distress, but because the Michels were the immediate caretakers of the animals that’s why they also face charges for failing to provide adequate care,” said Lines.
If the accused are found guilty, then the judge may decide to write a court order prohibiting the ownership of animals. 
This decision would have important consequences for the Oops-a-Dazy society as a whole. 
Currently, both the society and the Michels may own and care for animals while the trial is ongoing and until a verdict is handed down by the judge in this case. 
Chairman Christine Campbell said the society has not yet seen the SPCA’s report on the investigation.
“We disagree with the ABSPCA’s allegations and intend to review the matter carefully. I cannot speak yet to how we will proceed,” said Campbell. “This is very upsetting to us as this was a case of people who were really trying to do as much as possible, to help the animals and the community. The sad fact is that there are just too many animals needing help. Without enough foster homes to assist all of the homeless animals, and the dedication of pet owners to spay and neuter their pets, rescue organizations will always be faced with the dilemma of how to save them all. Our foster home process involves an application, orientation, opportunity for reference checks, and potential for home checks at any time.  Prior to this incident, we were in the process of completing an annual review of our foster home policies and our policies are constantly evolving. We are continuing to investigate opportunities for improvement and if we identify any as a result of this incident, we will certainly be implementing them.”
 

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