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Old May 8th, 2003, 06:37 AM
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100 flea-infested dogs found in filthy pens, court told

100 flea-infested dogs found in filthy pens, court told
Fur matted tight with fecal matter
Vaughan farm owners charged


Many of the 100 flea-infested dogs removed from a Vaughan puppy breeding operation were housed in feces-filled pens and had fur matted tight with fecal matter, a Toronto court has been told.

"I felt if they were left in that environment, they may not survive," veterinarian Stephanie Baldry told the trial of owners Ralph and Rose Misener yesterday.

"The health and well-being of the animals necessitated removal," Baldry added, reading from notes she made after examining dozens of female dogs and puppies at the Misener farm in August, 2001. Some of the dogs were underweight, had diarrhea, eye infections or ear mites, the trial presided over by Mr. Justice William P. Ross was told.

Water and food in some of the makeshift pens was dirty or inaccessible, witnesses testified.

Asked by Assistant Crown Attorney Jason Gorda whether the animals were suffering or in distress, Baldry replied, "Yes."

The 100 dogs were removed from the Miseners' tumbledown barn under a vet's certificate on Aug. 23, 2001, after Baldry and veterinarian Gilbert Plummer examined 150 dogs, many of them puppies.

Two days later, a further 43 dogs were voluntarily turned over to officials with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by Rose Misener.

The Miseners have pleaded not guilty to five charges of failing to provide suitable and adequate care and causing unnecessary suffering to dogs.

One of the seized dogs was Honey, a thin, matted poodle-terrier cross who later had an eye removed and became a media darling, appearing on television and in newspapers.

Plummer told defence lawyer Francis Fay that the breeding kennel, while not "overall a good one," was not as bad as he had expected.

"I have seen some worse," Plummer, who has been a vet for 30 years, told the court.

But Plummer also testified that care at the puppy farm was generally inadequate.

"In the overall picture, it all adds up to suffering," Plummer said.

Under cross-examination by Fay, veterinarian Dave Alkesh agreed none of the dogs looked abused or badly malnourished.

Veterinarian Graeme Nicholson testified that one female breeding dog had a deformed vulva, which could have been caused by a botched episiotomy (a surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina to aid delivery).

"If it was an episiotomy, it wouldn't have been done by a vet, because it wasn't closed up," Nicholson told Ross.

The trial continues today.
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