Edmonton dog breeder pleads guilty to causing distress to dozens of dogs

A dog is carried away from an Edmonton home by an animal protection officer in 2016.
A dog is carried away from an Edmonton home by an animal protection officer in 2016. Global News

Nearly two years after dozens of dogs were seized from a breeding operation in Edmonton, one of the breeders involved has pleaded guilty to a charge in connection with the case.

Justin Lawrence Iverson pleaded guilty to one count of causing distress to 41 dogs between September 2016 and December 2016. Iverson was given a $10,000 fine and a 30-year ban on owning pets, a Crown prosecutor handling the case told Global News on Monday. However, under certain conditions, Iverson may be allowed to own up to two pets.

READ MORE: Edmonton Humane Society granted ownership of dogs seized from horrible conditions

In 2016, the Edmonton Humane Society (EHS) told Global News animal protection officers were called to a dog breeding operation after receiving a complaint about a “dire situation.”

“In my six years as an animal protection officer with EHS, this was the highest density of dogs I have witnessed being kept in kennels, living in their own urine and feces,” B. Grey, a peace officer involved in the case, said at the time.

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The EHS said the charges against Iverson included two counts each of causing or permitting an animal to be in distress, failure to provide adequate food and water, failure to provide adequate care when wounded or ill and failure to provide adequate shelter, ventilation and space. Additional charges under the Criminal Code of Canada were also laid by Edmonton Police Services (EPS) and RCMP for cruelty to animals and causing injury to animals. After he pleaded guilty to the one count, the others were withdrawn, the EHS said.

READ MORE: Edmonton dog breeders charged after puppies found ‘living in their own urine and feces’

The EHS is hoping the pending criminal case will see the accused receive a lifetime ban on having custody of any animal.

“In these types of cases we always want to see a lifetime prohibition from owning animals, to prevent the accused from causing harm in the future,” said Miranda Jordan-Smith, CEO of the EHS, in a news release Wednesday.

“We are looking forward to the outcome of the pending criminal case and hope to see a stronger result based on the Criminal Code.”

The humane society said officers seized dozens dogs from the property on two different dates.

“This was a heart-wrenching case as it was one of the worst cases in cruelty we have seen,” Jordan-Smith said. “Many of these dogs, including puppies, came to us in various states of medical distress with skin irritations, wounds, signs of worms and defects that likely had a genetic component such as cherry eye, requiring surgery to correct. The dogs were emaciated, with feces on their fur and overgrown nails.”

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“It was extremely rewarding to see them go to their forever homes knowing the situation they had come from,” Jordan-Smith added.

Thirty-one of the dogs that were in EHS’ care were adopted, five were euthanized and one was transferred to another agency. The dogs included English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and pit bulls.

Iverson is set to appear in court next March for the Criminal Code charges.

Watch below: In December 2016, Shallima Maharaj filed this report after two Edmonton breeders were charged after dozens of dogs were found living in what animal protection officers called “some of the worst conditions ever seen at a breeding operation.”

Edmonton dog breeders charged with animal cruelty
Edmonton dog breeders charged with animal cruelty

Iverson and Christine Archambault were charged in connection with the case. Global News has not received an update on the case against Archambault.

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In January 2017, Iverson was charged in a separate case involving animals found in a rural home north of Edmonton.

Redwater RCMP were asked by members of the Edmonton Police Service to check a home in Sturgeon County to ensure the property owner was abiding by court conditions that he was not to own or possess animals. When officers arrived, they could hear several dogs barking and crying inside the home, the RCMP alleged.

READ MORE: Edmonton man charged with animal cruelty faces more charges after pit bulls found in distress

They said there were large amounts of animal feces on the front and back porches of the home. Police later found nine pit bulls they alleged were in various states of medical distress. Police said some of the dogs had injuries to their faces and legs and others showed signs of malnourishment. Another pit bull was found dead outside the home.

In the Sturgeon County case, Iverson was charged with five counts of cruelty to animals, five counts of causing injury to animals and 10 counts of failing to comply with recognizance. On Monday, a Crown prosecutor told Global News the trial related to the dogs discovered in Sturgeon County is scheduled for late March.

–With files from Global News’ Caley Ramsay and Emily Mertz as well as 630 CHED’s Kirby Bourne and Thomas Dias

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