Justice for the Merritt Road abandoned cat colony in Beamsville, ON
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Mayor - Town of Lincoln
4800 South Service Rd.
On July 19, 2017, Animal Assistance of Niagara contacted the Beamsville 4Paw Rescue team and requested them to check out a property on Merritt Road in Beamsville, ON to evaluate a suspected abandoned cat colony. Prior to our attendance on the property we contacted the Lincoln County Humane Society ("LCHS") and specifically requested their presence, in their capacity as animal cruelty investigators for the Town of Lincoln, at the property. They declined to attend on our request until days later (July 26th).
Once we arrived at the Merritt Road property it quickly became apparent that it there was indeed an abandoned cat colony on the property and the number of cats/kittens was startling. There were hundreds on-site all hungry, hurt and begging for food. The situation was desperate and we decided to take charge. We lined up vet offices to take the cats/kittens, foster homes and put together a team to professionally and safely trap the cats on-site. It was obvious that all of the live animals had been neglected for an extended period of time.
Over the course of the next several weeks, just how awful the living conditions were for the animals would be learned. In addition to the 100+ living cats rescued from the property (our rescue can account for 70 of the cats/kittens) that were in need of immediate medical attention, animal carcasses and skeletal remains of hundreds more animals (cats, kittens and dogs) were found on the property.
During our time on the property, we learned from neighbour accounts and several OSPCA statements that LCHS had been sending some OSPCA investigators to the site since December 2016 and that an investigation has already been open for suspected animal cruelty on-site. At no time throughout this rescue initiative did the OSPCA, any of its investigators, or even any agents from the LCHS request us to cease and desist in our trapping and clean-up actions. Instead, we were allowed to continue our efforts on the property unhindered. We have been clearing the property of live animals as well as bagging some of the dead animals to have them laid to rest in the Smithville pet cemetery. All carcasses and skulls/bones have been offered over the LCHS and OSCPA but not accepted. An LCHS rep told us that we were clear to have the bodies cremated and buried. We continued to take photos and leave animal remains untouched for the OSCPA to see on the property but they refused to come on site and let us direct them to the bodies.
The OSPCA’s statements to the media have been less than consistent. At the beginning, they admitted to having an investigation open since December 2016. The week of August 1st, the OSPCA stated to the Grimsby Lincoln News NOW publication that the investigation would be closed due to lack of evidence supporting animal cruelty. On August 15, Kevin Strooband from the OSPCA went on 610 CKTB radio and stated that they had never closed the investigation and that it will continue to move forward as it was. We are having a hard time working with the investigators to get them what they need to file animal cruelty charges on the renter of the home. We are offering our evidence (eye witness testimonials, deceased animals, photos etc.) and our time to the group to help press charges and break the cycle.
We have seen, first-hand, the abhorrent and indescribable conditions in which these animals were living. We understand that there are laws, regulations and procedures that need to be followers when investigating a case like this, but after months of community calls to the OSPCA with no action being taken, we couldn’t let the animals suffer any longer in such appalling conditions. There is more than sufficient evidence on-site for the OSPCA to press charges against the occupier of the home and bring justice to the community of Beamsville and the abandoned colony.
We also believe that this same occupier is now repeating the same pattern of animal hoarding and neglect at her new residence, which will ultimately lead to the despicable conditions evident at the Merritt Road property.
If we can't achieve our goal of having a new and independent animal cruelty investigation launched by other investigators of the OSPCA , body life may be shorter and much more miserable for dozens more pets that fall into the hands of the former Merritt Road property occupier. Many, if not all, of any new pets acquired by that individual could miss out on necessary medical and otherwise humane treatments that can prevent disease and suffering. But, If we are successful in being instrumental in launching a new and independent animal cruelty investigation that results in the laying of charges and achieves a conviction of animal cruelty against this former Merritt Road occupier, dozens and possibly hundreds of pets will be spared the awful fate that met the Merritt Road animals.
Please add your voice to help bring justice for the pets, alive and dead, found on the Merritt Road property.
Beamsville 4Paw Rescue
I/we, the undersigned, hereby petition as follows:
1. That a new and independent animal cruelty investigation be launched by the OSPCA Chief Investigator through one of its affiliates, other than the Lincoln County Humane Society, into the living conditions and consequent medical state of the animals, living and deceased, found on the Merritt Road, Beamsville property.
2. That those skeletal remains that are currently untouched and uncompromised on the said property be retrieved by the new and independent OSPCA investigator(s) and sent to the University of Guelph, College of Veterinarians for forensic testing to determine the cause or likely cause of death of those deceased animals.
3. That all eye-witnesses be properly and formally interviewed by OSPCA investigators, and that all photographs taken and medical evaluations/reports that have been generated because of or associated with the clean-up at the said property and the aftercare of the animals seized be taken into evidence by the new and independent OSPCA investigators for the purposes of advancing a new and independent animal cruelty investigation into the laying of animal cruelty charges against the former occupier of the said Merritt Road property.
4. That the new and independent animal cruelty investigation also be extended to an investigation of the former Merritt Road property occupier at her new premises to ascertain the health and welfare of animals currently under her care and control and if sufficient evidenced be found, that animal cruelty charges be laid against that individual and pursued through the court to a final conclusion.
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