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Manitoba couple pleads guilty to abusing dozens of dogs

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A Gull Lake couple who raised the ire of their neighbours by feeding black bears in the summer of 2010 pleaded guilty this morning to one of the worst cases of dog abuse in Manitoba history.

Peter Chernecki, 63, and his wife Judith, 62, pleaded guilty to seven counts under the Animal Care Act and Regulations.

The couple will be sentenced Sept. 17. They face maximum penalties of six months in jail and a $5,000 fine or both, and a five-year prohibition of dog ownership.

The couple was originally facing 19 charges but the rest were stayed when they entered guilty pleas to seven counts.

The charges stemmed from July 2010, when authorities were investigating neighbours' complaints that the couple was attracting black bears to cottage country by putting out food for them.

A search of the Chernecki property in Gull Lake, near Grand Beach, led to the discovery of 64 dogs being kept in such unsanitary and unsafe conditions that 34 of the animals were eventually euthanized.

Many of the dogs being kept in a windowless garage were injured, were fighting with each other, and were being fed on by rats. The smell of ammonia was so bad that emergency personnel could only enter the kennels wearing full breathing apparatus.

The couple was in court in March on a charge under the Wildlife Act related to feeding the bears.  They had been feeding the animals for about 17 years, court heard. The judge handed Chernecki a discharge on the charge on the condition he and his wife never feed bears again.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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