Listen Up! Charges against a local kennel raise lots of questions and concerns – Opinion

Hugh Mackenzie Huntsville Doppler

Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

No Excuse for Cruelty to Animals

I have sat in front of my computer for more than an hour this morning trying to decide how to start this column. It is because I am angry, really angry about a story I read on Doppler this week. No, I am not angry at the author. Far from it. I am proud of her. It must have been a difficult story to write, but it is a story that needed to be written. It is why from time to time we need to dig deeper about what is going on in Huntsville. See original story here.

I am talking of course, about the charges laid against the owner of Hidden Meadow Farm by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (OSPCA) It is a tragic and disgusting story and a black mark on Huntsville. The charges have not been proven in court but pictures can say a thousand words and it certainly looks like Hidden Meadow Farm is not a happy place for many animals.

Hopefully, the owner of Hidden Meadow Farm is in deep doo doo. Certainly she has not helped herself with some of her defensive comments. Admitting for instance, that she had rebuffed instructions from OSPCA to have four of her sled dogs taken for veterinary treatment as she could take care of them herself and it was too expensive to take them to an animal doctor. It made better sense she opined to euthanize the animals as she could buy new sled dogs for about $200. Two of these dogs were surrendered to the Ontario SPCA and subsequently underwent extensive surgery.

According to the story there are about 42 Husky and Malamute sled dogs at Hidden Meadow Farm. There are also a number of horses. An inspection of the sled dogs by the Ontario SPCA, more than six weeks ago, revealed “large open wounds that had been left untreated for days; numerous older, healed, partially healed and infected wounds; limping with an obviously swollen leg, fever and broken and infected teeth.” One cannot help but wonder why this facility was not shut down promptly and completely when the Ontario SPCA did their inspection on June 8. Oh, I am sure there will be some politically correct answers for this, but meanwhile these animals are still suffering. One also cannot help but wonder why, given that concerns about this farm were raised as far back as 2014, it has taken so long to lay charges. Are facilities such as these not inspected on a regular basis? If not, they should be.

I also wonder why Deerhurst Resort, who has contracted with Hidden Meadow Farm for dog sledding and trail rides, did not see this coming. The farm is adjacent to Deerhurst, who announced, following charges being laid, that they were “suspending” the services of the farm. Too little, too late in my view. They should be fired. I am sure that Deerhurst regularly inspects their kitchens to ensure cleanliness and lack of potential disease. Surely the same standards should be applied to animals that the resort uses.

Our Town Council recently discussed the welfare of circus animals coming to Huntsville. If they have the power to regulate them, it is reasonable to ask if they have the power to regulate the care of animals who actually live here? If they do not have that ability, perhaps they should get it.

Hidden Meadow Farm has been charged with permitting an animal to be in distress, failing to provide adequate and appropriate medical attention and failing to provide the care necessary for an animal’s general welfare. They will have their day in court. In the meantime, who should have the benefit of the doubt? Should it be the owners of the farm or the animals that are still in their care? Think about it. I have and I say find a way to close them down.

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  1. Marlene & John Muller on

    The pictures made me feel unwell. I can’t imagine how those poor dogs suffered and continue to suffer. Listen up people, this is right in our back yard.

  2. Lori Cook-Adams on

    I totally agree. The OSPCA should be inspecting them constantly every two weeks or so to ensure that consistent, required care is given to all the animals. Unless the owner is a registered veterinarian, there is no way she can handle all the problems arising, and we now have a fund at the animal shelter to address the needs of those who need financial assistance. I suggest she USE IT. Kudos to Deerhurst for suspending their services and I hope they discontinue using them in future.

  3. A good editorial Hugh but are we dancing with the devil?…she still has these dogs and horses! They should have been taken away….who knows what health issues could still be brewing and with this heat and infestation on either skin or intestinal, I doubt she cares one bit of their comfort with the fur these woofs have. Or the heat on these horses – which are probably not out in some treed pasture with shade and a watering hole.

    • Barbara MacDonald on

      I fully believe these animals should be removed IMMEDIATELY. This lady is only in it for the money, she should never, in her lifetime be allowed to have animals. I sincerely hope she is prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Please let’s get the rest of the animals out of her care.

  4. Shannon Stecko on

    Last winter I witnessed a sickening fight between three sled dogs at deerhurst while a young child was the passenger. One dog was injured so bad it could not continue. I was very sick to my stomach as well as the tourists watching. Please do not continue with these sled rides. The care of these poor animals is sickening and there are no excuses for this inhumane behaviour.

  5. Josephine McClelland on

    The problem with the OSPCA is they have rules which govern them in how they deal with people like these. They are also short staffed so going to the facilities would probably be a problem. However I agree Deerhurst should have been more competent and go check for themselves to make sure the people they are using are on the up and up and taking proper care of the animals.

  6. Nancy Alcock on

    Thank you for writing about this Hugh. Let’s hope we have the support at General Committee tomorrow to improve our existing by-law.

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