Crown seeking lifetime ban on owning dogs for April Irving

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WATCH ABOVE: Sentencing arguments were heard in Lethbridge on Wednesday for April Irving. Irving pleaded guilty to permitting animals to be in distress in connection to the 2015 seizure of neglected dogs from a property near Milk River. Quinn Campbell reports – Oct 23, 2019

It’s been nearly five years since the court process for April Irving began.

On Wednesday, court heard sentencing arguments for the 59-year-old who pleaded guilty to offences under the Alberta Animal Protection Act. 

READ MORE: Case of one of Alberta’s largest animal seizures sees guilty pleas

Irving had about 200 dogs seized from her Milk River property starting in Dec. 2014 and into Jan. 2015. She was facing over a dozen charges in relation to what is known as Alberta’s largest animal seizure in Alberta SPCA history.

April Irving addressed the court during her sentencing hearing, she said to Judge Derek Redman, “You must wonder – What on earth happened here?” The judge replied he had asked himself that very question.

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Irving became emotional while talking to the court while she explained how emotionally attached she is to dogs, and what they mean to her.

She also shared some of her personal history and how she grew up with the judge.

Irving’s lawyer explained to the court the dogs began to quickly multiply on her property while she was away for extended periods of time to deal with court matters in Saskatchewan.

She started with nine males and nine females, but after six months she had 40 dogs. Her lawyer said she didn’t get the dogs spayed because she said it would cost $1,500 dollars.

READ MORE: Accused Alberta dog hoarder previously charged in Saskatchewan

Her lawyer also explained that Irving believes “less is more” and dogs should run free, that they don’t need full shelter and snow is an adequate water source.

Irving offered guilty pleas in July to four counts under Alberta’s Animal Protection Act for causing animals to be in distress.

The crown explained to the court that Alberta does not allow them to seek jail time under the act, unlike in other provinces.

The crown is seeking about $17,000 dollars in fines, but because she can’t afford to pay them, her time served in jail, with pre-trial credit at about five months, could act as payment.

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They are also seeking a lifetime ban on owning any dogs.

The defence is asking she be able to own one or two dogs.

The judge did point out that no matter how long of a ban he puts in place, it is only enforceable in Alberta, and she could move to another province where the ban would not be in place.

The judge reserved his decision and a date for sentencing will be set in December.

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