On Jan. 9, Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan (APSS) officers entered Dolores LaPlante’s home with two RCMP members, two veterinarians and four other animal protection officers.
They seized 106 cats, two dogs and a turtle from the Saskatchewan Alley Cats Association shelter. Two dogs and a cat were previously turned over by APSS, but LaPlante sought a court order to receive the remaining animals.
In his Feb. 15 ruling, Justice Neil Gabrielson denied the request, stating “it is reasonable to think they would be in distress if they were returned.”
“All of the cats have been seen by a veterinarian and some were reported to have signs of upper respiratory infections,” he said in his written decision.
The ruling means the animals are the property of APSS, which will work with agencies in Saskatchewan to find homes for as many animals as possible.
During the search warrant, an APSS officer noted unsanitary living conditions, poor air quality and visibly sick animals “with little to no food or water,” Gabrielson wrote.
APSS received numerous complaints prior to the seizure, including from a plumber who stated he and his helper became physically ill because of the smell in the house.
In an affidavit, LaPlante acknowledged the house was “untidy,” but denied it being “unsanitary.” She said litter boxes were not overflowing, though some may have been due for cleaning on the day of the search warrant.
“She says the vast majority of animals in the residence were healthy and denies the animals seized were in distress,” Gabrielson wrote.
Criminal charges have not been laid against LaPlante related to the most recent seizure.
The woman was once fined $250 resulting from the 2011 seizure of roughly 70 animals, mostly cats, from the same Elrose home.
She pleaded guilty to putting animals in distress. One animal neglect charge was stayed.
At the time, the judge called LaPlante an “animal lover” who failed to meet the adequate standard of care at the time of the seizure.
Elrose is about 150 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon.
-With files from 650 CKOM