Winnipeg police have rescued four malnourished young children from a filthy Transcona home where they were forced to live along with dead and dying pets.
Veteran justice officials have told the Free Press it is one of the worst cases of neglect and animal abuse they've encountered.
'There were dog feces everywhere in the house, from top to bottom. They had to bring in industrial-size fans just to air the place out. It was awful'
"There were dog feces everywhere in the house, from top to bottom," a source said. "They had to bring in industrial-size fans just to air the place out. It was awful."
One dog was found dead inside a plastic container, the result of allegedly being starved. Six other canines were in various states of distress.
Police say there was very little food inside the home for either the children or the dogs.
A 26-year-old woman has been charged with four counts of failing to provide the necessities of life for her children, who are four to 11 years old. She is also charged with seven counts of cruelty to animals.
None of the allegations has been proven and she is presumed innocent. The woman has been released on a promise to appear in court Dec. 17.
The Free Press is not naming the accused in order to protect the identity of her children, who have been seized by Child and Family Services as part of an ongoing probe.
Animal-welfare officials took control of the six living dogs, although police fear at least one may not survive and others face a long road back to health.
Police were called to the residence Oct. 23 after a landlord discovered the ugly scene inside. He had been involved in a dispute over rent with the tenant and subsequently entered the property.
Police are continuing to investigate. The mother's mental health is one focus, and it's expected a court may order a forensic assessment.
As well, investigators are trying to determine how long the children were exposed to this type of lifestyle and whether warning signs were missed. Sources say the school-age children were attending class regularly and educators raised no concerns.
If the Crown proceeds by indictment, the maximum sentence for failing to provide the necessities of life and animal cruelty is five years. If the Crown proceeds by summary conviction, the longest penalty is 18 months.