The case of neglected and abused animals at a Manitoba breeding facility has shocked many Canadians after animal welfare officials revealed they had known of the abuse for years, but were unable to act until recently.
The animal protection officials blamed Manitoba's bylaws as the reason why they were not able to take action for at least two years on a case that has resulted in 44 criminal charges filed against a 68 year old man. More alarming is the fact that the man charged had been investigated just last year, and while no criminal charges were laid, he was still allowed to keep animals, reported the Winnipeg Free Press.
Manitoba has both an Animal Care Act and an official office which is charged with overseeing animal welfare in the province, the Provincial Veterinarian's Office. The Brandon Sun reported earlier this month that the animals had been deprived of food, water and light.
In all, 27 dogs, 15 horses and two donkeys were rescued, and veterinarians anticipate all can be nursed back to full health.
Pet Abuse reported on the conditions in which the animals were found when officials finally were able to act recently, and the story is heart-wrenching. Aside from the signs of neglect and starvation, witnesses told Pet Abuse the bodies of other animals were found on the property.
While the farm was raided following a complaint lodged in late November, Pet Abuse cited a spokesperson from a local animal welfare organization who said complaints had been made about Goba's treatment of animals for the past 20 years.
Local residents want the provincial animal welfare office investigated, reported the Winnipeg Free Press. The Animal Control Officer for the Regional Municipality of Swan River spoke to CBC News about the case. Jeff Blythe said he couldn't set foot on the property, but did say why. He went on to say "It was very frustrating. You know what, it's just a matter of what you can and can't do pertaining to the law. I mean, I could only do what I could do."
An animal welfare activist was so concerned about the inability of Blythe to take action on a case he'd been aware of for years, she went to Swan River to learn more. Bonnie Riddell reported on Facebook that she was accompanied by a CTV reporter. After two days of meeting with many people in the Swan River Area, Riddell said:
" ... Many complaints were received over a period than spanned several years. The animals in question were inspected by the Provincial Vets Office staff inspectors as well as Jim Dyck, the local vet in Swan River who was hired to perform inspections for the Provincial Vet Office under a contractual agreement. None of the animals were ever seized by the Provincial Vet Office in the years that complaints were received. Walter Goba operated a dog breeding facility for many years, without proper licensing under the RM. Mr. Goba was notified several times to purchase the licensing but refused to comply. Mr. Goba operated the dog breeding kennel under conditions contrary to the provisions of the Animal Care Act. Mr. Goba also maintained a large herd of horses, many of them used for breeding purposes, over a period of perhaps 30 years. Mr. Goba failed to provide adequate care, feed and shelter to the animals in question. In my experience as a rescue organization and as an Animal Control Officer, the situation that took place in Swan River is the most extensive, abusive and inhumane situation I have ever witnessed. Most of the complainants reported this matter several times to the Provincial Vet Office with no positive results whatsoever. The previous Minister of Agriculture, Sharon Carstairs, together with the present Minister of Agriculture, Stan Struthers need to be held accountable for the ineffective manner in which this matter was dealt with."
Riddell and her organization, Papa's Ranch Equine Rescue Inc., are organizing a rally to take place on "December 14th, at 12:00 noon, on the front steps of the Manitoba Legislative Building" ... "to express our public outrage over this incident. The following will be addressed: accountability by both the past and present Ministers of Agriculture; a public inquiry into the mismanagement of this case by the Provincial Vet Office - this inquiry should directly address both the apparent failed legal jurisdiction of the Provincial Vet Office as well as the persons responsible to allow this animal abuse situation to apparently be condoned by the Government of Manitoba."
Riddell also is asking for Manitoba citizens who have made complaints about animal care to the Provincial Veterinarian's Office, and saw the complaint was not followed up with reasonably to contact her organization through their website, www.papasranch.ca.
44 criminal charges were laid against Walter Goba by the RCMP following the raid of his property. Goba will be in court on January 19th, 2011. It is anticipated that once the case goes to court, people will learn why the protection agency could not act until recently.
Manitoba citizens are urged by the government to report cases of neglect or abuse, and the government posts a list of signs of potential neglect or abuse, which include:
* lacking adequate food and water
* exposed to extreme cold or heat
* An unlicensed breeding operation or kennel.