ALBERTA
08/21/2014 02:44 EDT | Updated 10/21/2014 05:59 EDT

Would-be Alberta animal rescuer fined $700, can't own animals for 10 years

CALGARY - A would-be animal rescuer in Alberta who had been soliciting animals online for about a year has been convicted of neglect.

Austin Wiltzen was charged last March and has now been fined $700 and banned from owning animals for 10 years.

The Calgary Humane Society says Wiltzen had been operating an animal “rescue” service called Calgary Critter Care.

Officers found nine exotic animals in his care, including snakes, that were in distress.

Brad Nichols, manager of cruelty investigations, says Calgary is saturated with animal rescues organizations of varying legitimacy.

He says although individuals mean well, they sometimes are not capable of taking care of animals properly.

"It is crucial they be aware that the animal care duties and offences outlined in the Animal Protection Act pertain to them, just as they would a pet owner," Nichols said Thursday.

"Quite often we see people with their hearts in the right place getting overwhelmed and into legal trouble when they do not seek help."

Nichols said Wiltzen is still young and will "likely have a new outlook on the responsibility that comes with custody of animals when he is again allowed to have them in his late twenties."