Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the correction that the Alberta SPCA is paying for the care of the seized animals.
A man who had 131 dogs, 62 rabbits, eight cats and three tortoises seized from his Alberta property for allegedly failing to properly care for them has applied to start a dog-breeding facility in the southern county of Vulcan, the Alberta SPCA confirmed.
Two of the dogs seized in the case also had parvovirus and had to be put down in April. A third dog tested positive but was in the early stages and was treated at an off-site clinic. As a precaution, the Calgary Humane Society temporarily closed its doors to disinfect the area and minimize the chance of the disease spreading.
“They were seized because they were determined to be in distress,” SPCA spokesperson Roland Lines told Global News.
“It wasn’t food and water – it was other issues related to health – untreated medical issues and ventilation.”
LISTEN: SPCA confirms charges laid in connection with massive animal seizure
Lines said charges were laid under the Animal Protection Act on April 28 against Tyler Marshall. He said the applicant used to own Animal House in Okotoks, which eventually closed. The application put forward would include sales from that property, Lines said.
Late Tuesday evening, Tyler Marshall – through his lawyer – released a statement saying he has been diligent in his efforts to resolve “this dispute with the Alberta SPCA” concerning the seizure, and that he will vigorously contest the charges he faces. (See full statement below).
Calgary resident Grant Schimpf said he bought a dog from Marshall’s Okotoks facility in December. He said he had to take his new pet—an early Christmas present for his daughter—to the veterinarian within 12 hours of the purchase due to blood in the Olde English Bulldogge’s stool.
“At one point we had to bring her into the 24/hour vet because she started convulsing, shivering almost,” Schimpf told Global News. “We didn’t even know if she was going to survive.”
Schimpf says Maci is now eight months old and healthy, but he wants people to know about his experience.
“We had agreed on a healthy dog. He had every excuse in the book…Basically said if she has all these problems, we can return her and we can get another dog. But we had already accepted her as one of our own. That’s not right.”
Schimpf says he and Marshall had been in a payment dispute over the dog, which he says has since been settled.
What would happen if his application is approved?
Vulcan County development officer Anne Erickson said Marshall’s development request is for 200 adult dogs and 50 puppies per week. She added the county could set a cap on the number of animals.
Erickson also suggested the county could require regular site visits by a veterinarian of their choosing.
“We could specify that it’s a cooperative decision between the applicant and ourselves, or we could say that we pick the vet,” she said.
LISTEN: Vulcan County considers development permit request for large kennel and breeding facility
Erickson said county administration had conducted a site visit and that information collected on the internal operations, along with any veterinarian inspections and comments or concerns from the public would be presented to the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC), when it considers the application on Wednesday.
She told News Talk 770 she could not comment on the charges against the applicant or indicate whether the charges may factor into the MPC’s decision.
Where are the animals now?
Lines said the owner is pursuing civil action in the case, which prevented the SPCA from adopting the animals out.
The pets have been in custody with the Calgary Humane Society and the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) since April 24 and remained there Tuesday at a cost of $300,000 to the Alberta SPCA.
“We have been undergoing legal procedures around what might happen to them,” Lines said, noting the SPCA has no role in the licence application.
The Calgary Humane Society put out a statement Tuesday afternoon saying its staff are aware of Marshall’s application and encouraged residents to reach out to Vulcan County with feedback.
“We oppose this application and will be sharing our concerns with Vulcan town council.”
The next court appearance for Marshall is June 26 in Lethbridge.
With files from NewsTalk 770’s Alyssa Julie and Global’s Lisa MacGregor