Friday, November 27, 2009

OHS charges Ottawa women with animal cruelty in hoarding case

OTTAWA, Ont. (27 November, 2009) — Two Ottawa women have been charged with animal cruelty after 33 cats were removed from a Vanier apartment earlier this month.

On Nov. 26, Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) inspectors charged Nora Aubrey-Lafreniere, 51 and her daughter, Elissa Aubrey-Lafreniere, 30, for permitting distress to and not meeting the standards of care for animals in their possession. Inspectors had been investigating the occupants of the home since April, following up on complaints from both the City of Ottawa and members of the public about the number of animals housed in the property and concerns about the general care of those animals.

On Nov. 13, OHS investigators arrived at the Aubrey-Lafreniere home with a warrant. Upon entering the home, they found multiple cats in need of immediate veterinary care. There was an overwhelming smell of urine throughout the entire apartment building, and feces was found covering walls, furniture and ground into the carpet of the particular unit involved.

Most of the cats found in the home were not socialized to humans, and it was difficult for even trained animal handlers to approach them. Three cats escaped from the unit during the confiscation process. The investigators successfully removed 33 cats and transported them back to the OHS shelter.

Two adult dogs in good health remained behind after the inspector issued orders to clean up the unsanitary living conditions in the apartment. Those conditions were subsequently met and noted on a follow-up visit.

New provincial legislation has assisted OHS inspectors in this case, as they are no longer required to prove wilful neglect when laying charges.

"Animal hoarding issues are always extremely difficult," said Smith. "Hoarders are under the belief they are helping animals, but the sheer number of cats in this case meant providing appropriate and adequate care to all just wasn’t possible.

Only four of the cats are responding to medical treatment and are sufficiently socialized to be deemed suitable for re-homing. The rest of the cats were humanely euthanized to relieve suffering or because of extreme illness.

The Aubrey-Lafrenieres are expected to make their first court appearance on Dec. 17.

Although legally mandated to enforce the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada and the Ontario SPCA Act, the OHS does not receive any government funding or funding from any animal welfare group to perform this essential work.

For media enquiries, contact:
Tara Jackson, Communications Manager
613-725-3166 ext. 261

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