An Edmonton man who pleaded guilty to an animal cruelty charge after 37 dogs were seized from his property will still be allowed to own two dogs.
Justin Iverson, 31, reached a plea deal in provincial court on Friday.
He pleaded guilty to one count of causing or permitting an animal to be in distress under the Animal Protection Act. All other charges were withdrawn.
Iverson will be allowed to have pets but will be subject to court restrictions.
According to the court ruling, Iverson will be permitted to own up to two dogs if they are spayed or neutered.
Officials with the Edmonton Humane Society said they were disappointed by the ruling. Shelter CEO Miranda Jordan-Smith said it was one of the worst cases of animal cruelty in the agency's history.
"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," Jordan-Smith said in a statement.
The maximum penalty under the act is a $20,000 fine and a lifetime ban from having custody of any animal.
'A heart-wrenching case'
Animal protection officers launched an investigation after a complaint about a breeding operation known as Ivy's Breeders, located in a quiet northwest Edmonton neighbourhood. The dogs were crowded in a poorly ventilated space, walking in their own urine and feces. Some animals had urine burns on their feet.
Iverson was charged in December 2016 with more than a dozen offences, including failure to provide adequate food, water, medical care, shelter and ventilation.
"This was a heart-wrenching case, as it was one of the worst cases of cruelty we have seen," said Jordan-Smith.
Of the dozens of dogs that were recovered from the property, 31 were adopted, five were euthanized and one was transferred to another agency.
The dogs, which included pit bulls, French bulldogs and English bulldogs, all required medical attention.
"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," said Jordan-Smith. "The dogs were emaciated, with feces on their fur and overgrown nails."
"It was extremely rewarding to see them go to their forever homes knowing the situation they had come from."
Iverson faces criminal code charges in connection with an animal cruelty case last year in Sturgeon County, and is set to appear in court again next March.
"We are looking forward to the outcome of the pending criminal case and hope to see a stronger result based on the criminal code," Jordan-Smith said.
Another nine dogs, all pit bulls in medical distress, were seized in January 2017 from a residence in Redwater, northeast of Edmonton. At that home, RCMP also discovered a dead pit bull outside the residence.
Iverson was charged with two counts of cruelty to and causing injury to animals. He is set appear in a Redwater court next spring.