Elrose shelter owner faces animal cruelty charges after 100-plus cats seized

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WATCH ABOVE: Dolores LaPlante charged after more than 100 cats seized at her animal shelter in Elrose, Sask – Apr 8, 2019

An Elrose, Sask., woman who had more than 100 cats taken from her home-based shelter in January faces charges of animal cruelty and putting animals in distress.

On Jan. 9, animal protection officers carried out a search warrant at Dolores LaPlante’s home, which also houses the Sask Alley Cats Association. With assistance from two RCMP officers and two veterinarians, they seized 106 cats, two dogs and a turtle.

READ MORE: ‘Still in shock’: Elrose, Sask. woman rejects animal distress investigation

Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan (APSS) said conditions in the house caused the animals to be in distress – a claim LaPlante rejects.

On April 1, she was served a summons on charges of animal cruelty under the Criminal Code, along with a charge under the Animal Protection Act, alleging she put animals in distress.

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During a Monday interview, LaPlante told Global News she plans to plead not guilty to all charges. She’s scheduled to appear in Rosetown court on April 25.

“I’ll be fighting this matter in court the whole way,” she said.

She doesn’t deny the house “was stinky” and said the number of animals kept there is due to inadequate laws against people who abandon animals.

Dolores LaPlante’s home-based shelter in Elrose, Sask. in 2011. (Devin Sauer / Global News). Devin Sauer / Global News
“We will argue that being in my house was still better than being in minus-55 [degree] weather,” LaPlante said.

LaPlante opposed the animal seizure in court, but on Feb. 15, Justice Neil Gabrielson ruled she wouldn’t receive the vast majority of the animals. APSS had already turned over two dogs and a cat.

The remainder of the animals, some of whom vets said had upper respiratory infections, became the property of APSS.

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READ MORE: Elrose woman denied 100 cats seized by Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan

An APSS officer found the living conditions were unsanitary with poor air quality. The officer said visibly sick animals had little to no food or water, the judge’s decision read.

LaPlante’s home has previously been subjected to a search and seizure by animal welfare officials. In 2011, roughly 70 animals, mostly cats, were taken from the same home.

She was fined $250 after pleading guilty to putting animals in distress.

“I regret doing that,” LaPlante said Monday, adding the plea was a result of her being mentally and physically exhausted at the time.

One animal neglect charge was stayed.

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