FILE. (Pxhere)

15 charged following protests at two Alberta kennels that provide sled dog tours

RCMP say they were called to the Mad Dogs and Englishmen kennels east of Canmore

More than a dozen people affiliated with an animal rights group have been arrested in a protest against sled dog kennels, months after the same organization’s occupation of a turkey barn prompted the Alberta government to promise a crackdown on rural trespassers.

RCMP say they were called to the Mad Dogs and Englishmen kennels east of Canmore, Alta., on Saturday morning when approximately 30 protesters allegedly broke into the kennels to protest the treatment of the dogs.

Police say 15 people, including one young person, were arrested and face charges of break and enter to commit mischief.

A news release from the group Liberation Lockdown says protesters “locked down” the kennel as well as another, Howling Dog Tours, alleging the dogs were tethered for days at a time on very short leashes.

Liberation Lockdown also converged on the Jumbo Valley Hutterite turkey farm near Fort Macleod, Alta., on Sept. 2, spurring Premier Jason Kenney to announce that existing laws will be amended to crack down on protesters who go onto private agricultural land without permission.

No one from Mad Dogs and Englishmen could be immediately reached for comment, but a statement from Howling Dog Tours says its facility exceeds regulatory requirements and has had regular inspections from the SPCA and provincial government in recent months.

“It is unfortunate that a group of people, who know that no laws are being broken, can protest this way to push their values,” Howling Dog Tours owner Rich Bittner said in the statement.

Police say all of the accused from Saturday’s incident have been released and will appear in provincial court in Canmore on Jan. 15, 2020.

Trev Miller, an organizer with the protesters, said they entered the properties to “raise awareness of conditions that are perfectly legal,” claiming animals frequently have sores on their necks and no hair from where collars leash them to poles.

“We’re asking that inherent rights of non-human animals, including the right to live free from human exploitation on short leashes, be recognized for all individuals and that animal livestock operations be replaced with non-oppressive industries,” Miller said in a news release.

The Alberta SPCA said in a statement that in cases this year where it has received complaints about the conditions of dogs used in the sled dog industry, its peace officers have not found there to be distress as defined by the Animal Protection Act.

Back in September, three adults and a 16-year-old girl were charged with break and enter to commit mischief following the sit-in at Jumbo Valley Hutterite turkey farm.

The farm operator said animal welfare standards and rules were being followed.

The Alberta government says it is looking at setting trespassing fines up to $10,000 for a first-time offence and up to $25,000 for subsequent offences, with a possible six months in jail.

Fines for organizations would be up to $200,000.

There could also be changes to health and safety rules so that farmers could recover costs if protests put the health of animals or humans at risk. Protesters who created such health risks could be fined between $15,000 and $30,000 and face up to a year in jail.

Alberta will also dedicate a Crown prosecutor to handle agricultural cases.

A spokesman for Ontario’s agriculture minister said in September that the province had not ruled out similar legislation, but planned to first discuss it further with agriculture stakeholders.

Ontario mink farmers have been the target of animal rights activists, who have released hundreds of the animals from barns.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2019.

—By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Archie Lunevich presents a $30,000 cheque to Leona Thorogood, chair of Stettler Health Services Foundation

The funds will be used to purchase equipment for the upcoming renovated ER department at the hospital

Hearts for Hospice Dine and Dance: Lively fundraising event set for Feb. 8th

Event will feature live band, catered meal, silent auction, and much more

Stettler’s Big Brothers Big Sisters has plenty of events lined up for the first part of 2020

January is Mentoring Month across Canada and throughout North America

Cattle Show set to return to Stettler Jan. 31st and Feb. 1st

“Stettler, historically, has been a very strong cattle community. It was a real hub for the cattle industry.”

RCMP Major Crimes Unit lays charges in Stettler death

Nicholas Climb Johnson, 32, of Stettler is charged with second degree murder in the death of his father

Poll suggests some don’t think Canada should send troops to stop genocide

The findings are being released just before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

Tax revolt? Unpaid taxes from energy companies to Alberta towns more than double

The association says they are owed a total of $173 million

New post-secondary funding model in Alberta tied to performance measures

By 2022, up to 40 per cent of post-secondary funding could be linked to performance

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to give refund to B.C. buyer due to puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Huawei exec’s extradition hearing begins in Canada

China’s foreign ministry complained the United States and Canada were violating Meng’s rights

Prince Harry: ‘Powerful media’ is why he’s stepping away

Prince Harry and Megan have stepped away from their royal commitments

Most Read