WINCHESTER -- Some 200 dogs and five horses remain "in hiding" this week to prevent removal from a local farm by the Cornwall branch of the Ontario Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Animals. The animals belong to dog breeder Gilles Legros who called in members of the militant Ontario Landowners Association after being visited recently by OSPCA inspector Bonnie Bishop backed by OPP officers. Acting on a complaint, Bishop wrote several orders against the Legros facility, including one to clip the dogs' toenails, said OLA president Jack MacLaren. Legros subsequently ordered a veterinarian report which concluded his animals were healthy and well cared for.
NOT HOUSE PETS
"The animals were in extremely good shape," said OLA member Shan Carmichael who attended at the farm. "But it's a breeding facility. The dogs aren't treated like house pets." Backed once again by OPP officers, Bishop returned to the farm with a revised order and a 48-hour compliance restriction. OLA members removed the animals before they could be confiscated and subjected to OSPCA boarding fees. In Smiths Falls, $30,000 in fees was chalked up against Essie Barrie after the Lanark Animal Welfare Society charged her with animal cruelty and took away her 32 cats. The case will be heard in Perth court June 3. "The Winchester action has nothing to do with the humane treatment of animals which is the OSPCA legislated mandate," MacLaren said. "It's about the society's unlegislated self-defined ethical view on how many animals a person should own." MacLaren complained even the OPP is in the "OSPCA pocket" and the government has chosen to turn a blind eye against "flagrant abuses by intimidating bullying enforcement officers."
The OLA has made it a priority to take on the OSPCA, especially in light of far-reaching powers confirmed and expanded under the new Animal Welfare Act which permits searches without warrants and greater seizure provisions. Agricultural issues lawyer Don Good, who's trying to broker a solution for Legros, complained the act goes way too far, giving inspectors in some situations more power than police officers.
Bishop said she wasn't at liberty to discuss details of cases which are under investigation. Newmarket-based OSPCA spokeswoman Kristin Williams confirmed a "voluntary solution" is being sought, with emphasis on educating Legros on required animal care standards.