Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Woman admits to starving kids, pets

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A Winnipeg woman has admitted to running a house of horrors in which her four malnourished young children were forced to live with dying pets and the carcasses of dead ones.

The 27-year-old pleaded guilty this week to charges of failing to provide the necessities of life and cruelty to animals. She will be sentenced in October and faces a maximum of 18 months behind bars.

The Free Press is not naming the woman to avoid identifying her children, who are four to 11 years old and now in the custody of Child and Family Services (CFS).

Police descended upon the woman's Transcona home last fall and found what justice officials have described as one of the worst cases of neglect and animal abuse they've encountered.

Investigators had to bring in industrial-size fans to air out the residence, which was filled with feces. 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.

Further details are expected to be revealed at the sentencing hearing. Police were initially notified by a landlord who discovered the scene inside. He had been involved in a dispute over rent with the tenant and subsequently entered the property.

Investigators were 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.

Several neighbours told the Free Press they began expressing concerns months before the woman was arrested. They said several calls were placed to CFS and the Winnipeg Humane Society. One neighbour claims she was told by officials they would follow up on her concerns but said the fact nothing happened for months leaves her skeptical.

Both the humane society and a government spokesman said they were unable to comment on the specific allegations because the case is before the courts. A police source confirmed CFS did have a file on the family prior to the mother's arrest but had no other details.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 4, 2014 A6

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