Charges laid against Ontario dog rescue

10 charges laid against group that collected dogs from Manitoba First Nations

Some puppies picked up on a First Nation. Photo: APTN file

A group that rescued dogs in three Manitoba First Nations is accused of breaching the animal welfare act in Ontario.

4 Lucky Paws Animal Rescue, located outside Peterborough, Ont., was charged in October with 10 counts under the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act.

Two people with the group are accused of permitting distress to an animal (five counts), failing to provide adequate and appropriate medical attention (four counts), and failing to provide care necessary for an animal’s general welfare (0ne count).

None of the charges have been tested in court.

The group worked with Manitoba Animal Alliance (MAA) for three years collecting sick, stray and relinquished dogs in Mathias Colomb (Pukatawagan), Cross Lake (Pimicikamak) and Peguis First Nations, said MAA managing director Debra Vandekerkhove.

Read more: ‘We consider the dogs stolen’: Ontario rescue group under fire for missing pets 

The rescues mutually stopped working together a few months prior to when the allegations surfaced last year, Vandekerkhove said.

“We want to assure everyone that as part of our investigation and to help authorities, we are going through our records to help identify the dogs,” MAA said in a post on its Facebook page on May 23, 2023. “We keep extremely detailed records of all animals that go through our care. These records include where the dogs were acquired, surrender forms, as well as photos of each dog.”

No one from 4 Lucky Paws could be reached for comment.

A Toronto lawyer who once spoke for them said he no longer represents the group, which responded to the allegations in a series of posts on its Facebook page.

“4 Lucky Paws has operated for over 8 years, 3 years ago we started working in Northern areas of Ontario and Mantioba where vet care is scarse and illness runs high due to unvaccinated populations,” it said in a post on May 24, 2023.

Read more: VHS looking to move dog-rescue industry away from colonial ‘you’re not doing it right’ attitude

“We have done transports of 60 dogs (split between rescues) but average 30 dogs on an intake (roughly 4 times a year). In the past 8 months we have seen a total of 97 dogs come through…”

It said 22 puppies died in eight months despite receiving veterinary care.

“The accusations being thrown around are results of individuals who were trusted with care and involvement in the rescue, sadly when individuals choose to video an animal dying there are definitely intentions and they’re not good ones,” continued the post.

“We apologize for taking on more than we were able to handle, we should have asked for help and didn’t.”

Vandekerkhove said it was a difficult development.

“Nobody goes into animal rescue with bad intentions,” she said in an email to APTN News. “We all sometimes become overwhelmed with the amount of intake animals that we have especially if all of a sudden most of them become sick.”

4 Lucky Paws said on Facebook it would be “voluntarily closing its doors.” Its Facebook page shows it still seeking people to foster its rescued dogs.

“As a rescue we know that not everyone agrees with things we do,” the post added, “at this point we have our regrets and apologize for the turn of events as well but we do know we’ve also made a difference for so many.”

The next court appearance on the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act charges is set for the end of February.

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