Palmer Rapids puppy mill surrenders 38 dogs while owner faces criminal charges
Palmer Rapids – A Palmer Rapids woman faces two charges after three visits by a local dog rescue organization and members of the Killaloe Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) removed a total of 38 dogs from a residence.
The removal took place on March 7 and as a result of the investigation, a 40-year-old woman has been charged with cruelty to animals - unnecessary pain and suffering, and causing damage or injury to animal or bird - failing to provide suitable, adequate food, water, care or shelter.
Laura Pelkey of Whitewater Region is the founder of Riverview Rescues, a non-profit organization devoted to rescuing abused animals and nursing them back to health with the goal of having each dog either taken into foster care or adopted by a pet-friendly home. She said it took three separate visits before all 38 dogs were removed from the property.
“It was last Tuesday (March 7) when the OPP called me and asked if I could assist in the removal of the dogs,” she said. “I can’t recall ever getting a call from the police for a rescue operation and I really wasn’t prepared for what I would see once I got out there.
“I have been involved in more than 100 rescues over the last 20 years and this was the second worst puppy mill I have ever encountered. As I walked on to the property I was met with an overwhelming sense of sadness and it takes a lot to shock me…and I was shocked.”
She said the dogs, various Husky breeds and some German Shepherds, were located outside in small crates with no shelter and some dogs were inside the residence locked in their individual crates.
“I was horrified at the conditions and the dogs were left out in the snow without even a barn or some type of building to provide even a basic shelter,” she said. “When I went inside the home I couldn’t believe the conditions. Some had no water or food and some areas of the home had close to three inches of feces on the floor, and most of them had feces inside the crates. The smell is something I will never forget.”
Ms. Knight, the owner of the dogs, agreed to surrender the 38 dogs, but Ms. Pelkey could only remove 22 dogs on the first visit because the 22 crates filled her vehicle.
“I just hoped that we would be able to return and get the rest of the dogs,” she said. “Thankfully, the OPP called us twice over the rest of the week to come back and get the rest. On my first visit I just grabbed the dogs that appeared to be most in need and some were in such bad shape I was worried some might not be there when we returned.”
Along with the three OPP officers, representatives from PAWS (Peoples Animal Welfare Society) were on site to assist in the removal.
“The OPP did an amazing job of facilitating the removal of the dogs and there is no way we could have removed all of them without their incredible assistance. We basically carried the dogs from the house to the fenced entrance and I had to lift each dog over the fence to my husband and he carried and placed them in the crates.”
An additional nine dogs were removed on March 9 and the remaining dogs were surrendered on March 11. Due to the large number of dogs, Ms. Pelkey called on members of SMART (Siberian Malamute Alaskan Rescue Team) to relocate some of the dogs to the Ottawa area. Both SMART and Riverview Rescue service Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley.
The SMART rescue team took 17 of the dogs, primarily the females and the puppies, allowing Ms. Pelkey more room to attend to the remaining dogs at her residence.
“It is going to be a long road ahead for these dogs,” Ms. Pelkey said. “These dogs are absolutely traumatized. They are scared, they are timid, and they have had little, if any, human contact. All they want is to be loved and cared for and it will take months to get them back to where they should be. They are scared and they need human contact.”
Each dog requires full vaccination and follow-up veterinarian visits to deal with various issues, including Lyme Disease.
“We just returned with one dog that received his shots and a bill for $700,” she said. “The dog, along with all the others, was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.. He is scheduled for surgery as he has growths on his rectum and growths on his side and a bad infection on his face. His bill will run into the thousands of dollars and we are a non-profit that relies on the generosity of others to help these innocent dogs.”
There is currently a GoFundMe page set up to help offset the costs associated with boarding the dogs, medical appointments and transportation. As of press time, just over $970 was raised with a goal of $6,000.
She said the one dog’s medical needs is an example of how expensive the business of dog rescues can be. She is thankful the OPP alerted her to the conditions of the dogs and said if this intervention had not occurred when it did, there likely would have been even more dogs on the premises.
She encourages everyone who is considering purchasing a pup to make sure to do their homework on the conditions of the kennels or homes they come from.
“Do your research as to where you are getting your animals from and make sure they are legitimate,” she said. “Support your local rescue organizations and spay and neuter your pets if possible. Speak up if you know there are puppy mills in your area because these innocent dogs cannot speak for themselves.”
Tracy Knight of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan Township is scheduled to appear in court in Killaloe on May 10.
For more information on the fostering/adoption process, or to make a donation, go to www.riverrescues.ca
In an upcoming issue, the Leader examines the rise of illegal puppy mills in Renfrew County and the efforts of local governments and rescue organizations to shut them dow
Bruce Mcintyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader