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This article was published 10/8/2016 (1387 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Regulations for animal-rescue facililties aren't being enforced in Manitoba because the province's chief veterinary office lacks money and staff.
The question of monitoring such premises arose Wednesday after the bodies of rotting puppies stuffed in garbage bags were removed, and more than a dozen dogs were rescued, from a Valley Gardens townhouse Tuesday night by staff from the province's chief veterinary office and the Winnipeg Humane Society.
Volunteers who went to the home found the occupant — a woman who was operating a domestic-animal rescue called Liferaft in the home —unresponsive on the floor. The resident was rushed to hospital in unknown condition. Liferaft stands for Love Is Fur Ever Rescue And Foster Team, which is not a registered charity.
Conditions in the residence included several centimetres of feces caked on the floor, chewed walls and a stench of rotting animals.
"A volunteer found dead puppies in the house liquefying and there was two dead puppies laying on the floor. One dog had infected eye ulcers, all around her eyes (and) her mouth and beetles were eating away at her face," a member of the local dog rescue community said.
Dr. Colleen Marion, the companion animal welfare veterinarian with the CVO, said regulations for animal shelters and rescues exist, but aren't enforced because of a lack of financial resources and manpower.
A licensing program under the Animal Care Act tallies the number of shelters and rescues in the province. It's also supposed to ensure the shelters are inspected by animal protection officers to ensure animals get proper care.
But Marion said the licensing program hasn't been enforced since 2010, when the most recent amendment was made to the Animal Care Act.
She added that the CVO still sends out animal protection officers when reports are made over concern for an animal's welfare.
The provincial vet's office and the WHS were called by volunteers on Tuesday evening. A statement by the CVO says officials apprehended four dogs, which were taken into care for veterinary evaluation.
It also says one deceased puppy was found at the residence, which conflicts with eyewitness reports to the Free Press from members of the local rescue community about other dead dogs.
"The animals are currently in good spirits but due to the ongoing investigation we are unable to provide further details about their physical condition," the statement said.
A director of another local dog rescue, who did not want to be named, said several dogs which had ties to other local rescues were returned to those rescues.
A dog with the ulcers on her face, Gypsy, is seriously ill and was taken directly to a local veterinarian for treatment. A veterinarian from the Plessis Veterinary Hospital said her prognosis is "guarded" and said it was too early to say if Gypsy will survive. She is an approximately three-year-old husky mix.
The veterinarian said Gypsy is underweight and there are lesions on her eyes. "The dog was quite dehydrated, a lot of infection in the blood, has a very bad cough and was hungry too. She went for food like crazy," the veterinarian said, asking that his name not be used.
He said Gypsy has a serious skin infection around her eyes, lips and her paws that has been there for several weeks.
"This dog has some congenital issues too so we are doing confirmation tests. The cough is probably secondary to that problem and it’s a chronic issue. This is a very sick dog," he said. "This dog also has a pneumonia that is also secondary to this (congenital) problem."
He said the course of action for Gypsy is stabilize, rehydrate, give food and take care of all the infections.
The local rescue director said that "basic care of a dog was not even being met" in the Valley Gardens home. The dogs had long, untrimmed nails, were dirty, smelled foul and early indications were that they had not been vaccinated recently.
She said it would take many weeks for dogs’ conditions to deteriorate to such states.
"It’s horrific. It’s heartbreaking," the local rescue director said. "The entire rescue community is shaken up right now. We’re here to make changes and want to see this person get the help that she needs.
"We’re sad for this person but she should never have a dog again. There needs to be an outcry so this can be prevented."
Colleen Holloway, a spokesperson for Manitoba Mutts, a registered charity, said the environment is ripe for situations like neglect of too many dogs in private homes.
"It’s not surprising but it’s disheartening and frustrating. Our approach is that we need to look at the systemic issues rather than the person themselves," Holloway said.
"People do lead with their hearts and get in over their heads," she said. "This is an extreme case but it’s not an uncommon thing."
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Updated on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 2:43 PM CDT: Update
6:07 PM: Updated
August 11, 2016 at 10:08 AM: Headline updated