& # 39; It's time & # 39 ;: Advocates call for change after catching Milk River Dogs



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Deanna Thompson, Executive Director of the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society, said her staff members were happy when they heard the news of Irving's recent arrest originating from when she had 201 dogs captured in 2014.

Irving has been accused of hoarding dogs and animal cruelty, since 2014, when officials seized more than 200 dogs from his property in Milk River, Alta.

He failed to show the date of his trial at Lethbridge in 2016 and was arrested on January 16 in Manitoba.

"We only really hope and pray that the justice system will be able to stop it from owning animals," Thompson said. "And we really value the RCMP for filing criminal charges that will become federal."

Alberta RCMP confirms Irving will be transported from Manitoba to Alberta this weekend. The court date for Irving will be determined when he returns to the province, Const. Mike Hibbs said.

Thompson said his organization would closely monitor Irving's court case. They hope he manages to return to Alberta so they can attend his appearance in court.

"I really hope that we will see justice for these animals," Thompson said. "And now is the time."

History of stockpiling animals

Irving has a history of stockpiling animals. In 2010, he had more than 80 dogs confiscated from his property near Lake Busa, Sask. This resulted in a 10-year ban that prevented him from having more than two dogs at a time.

Gracie weighed 9 kg when he was treated from an April Irving property in Milk River, Alberta. (AARCS)

Kaley Pugh, former executive director of Saskatchewan Animal Protection Services, said she attended most of Irving's court dates for the Foam Lake case.

Pugh said the case was frustrating because he knew the 10-year ban would only apply in Saskatchewan.

"People who move from one province to another are actually quite common," Pugh said. "We have several cases in Saskatchewan about people who have been convicted after the previous problem in Alberta or a previous problem in Manitoba."

Thompson agreed, and said that while the ban was great, he wanted to see a check to make sure people obeyed.

"We must be able to ensure that these people do not have animals," he said. "Just because they have a ban does not mean that they will not have animals in their care."

Milk River dogs 4 years later

In Alberta, all 201 dogs were adopted after the Milk River seizure. Thompson said his organization and other people throughout Alberta and British Columbia took animals to rehabilitate and reorganize them.

"We are very happy that the rescued animals are fine in their new home," he said. "It's amazing to see their transformation."

Thompson said he hoped the April Irving case could be an example for others.

"I think people need to realize that animals are living things and that they are protected, though not well, under the law," Thompson said. "This is one of the worst cases of neglect and abuse we've ever seen, and I think as a society, we don't forgive that behavior, so we must be able to set a precedent that this won't be something we will endure."

In Saskatchewan, Pugh said he was looking for a legal system for future changes.

"What I really want to see is that prosecutors and judges and others are more comfortable using the provisions of cruelty to animals in the Criminal Code," he said. "And then give someone a ban that will apply throughout the country."

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