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France Turcotte, Dog Shelter Owner, May Be Driven Out By Neighbours

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FRANCE TURCOTTE DOG SHELTER
This pregnant Boxer was left in a van in the middle of winter -- before finding sanctuary at Valley Mastiff Rescue. | YouTube

She has dedicated her life to helping animals that have been abused.

But it seems when France Turcotte founded an animal shelter in La Peche, Quebec, it was her turn to be brutalized.

It began, she told the Ottawa Citizen, as soon as she opened the doors at Valley Mastiff Rescue -- a concerted, cruel and downright terrifying campaign to oust her and her ailing dogs from the property.

“These dogs are not a threat. They’re sick. They come here to die. How is that a problem for the residents of this municipality?” she told the newspaper.

Other dogs are there to start life anew.

"At any given time, more than 15 dogs are turning their lives around," Turcotte's website reads, "Receiving the medical help they need, and getting love and healing to help them overcome their past and begin a new life."

Despite proving itself a vital sanctuary for dogs time and time again, the NIMBY crowd is baring its teeth.

Turcotte's shelter, a federally registered charity, has been bombarded with not-at-all subtle messages to get out of town.

In a Metro news interview this week, Turcotte offers a sampling of the neighbourly terror: Someone offering to kill a dog with a bear trap, a parcel bearing a clock and made to look like a bomb (the street had to be evacuated), a crossbow bolt in a dog cage, and one of her staffers being threatened with a beat-down.

A neighbour told Metro it's all about the safety of his family -- and concerns that one of those dogs might end up on his 90-acre property.

“I told her I didn’t want to see any loose animals on my property,” Patrice Pharand told the newspaper, adding if any dogs got loose, he "would take measures for it."

All this, despite the fact the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has never received a complaint over an aggressive dog in Turcotte's care.

The SPCA did confirm to the Ottawa Sun, however, that there have been complaints from locals regarding the number of dogs being walked at a time.

And now, the Sun reports, she's suddenly facing zoning issues with the municipality -- Mastiff Valley Rescue's permit as a shelter has effectively been put on hold.

The intimidation is probably not the worst Turcotte's weathered -- especially in her line of work. After all, she's seen the living ruins of puppy mills -- you know, having to say things to reporters like, "She had three toes and a twisted back leg."

And have a look at how Turcotte handled the heartbreaking case of a pregnant dog abandoned in a cold van.

In the end, it isn't Turcotte's rather trying line of work that's getting to her -- but the hostile working conditions.

“I can’t operate here anymore," she told Metro. "My volunteers are being threatened left and right. The dogs are being threatened."

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