SASKATOON — The owner of a Saskatoon kennel where 14 large-breed dogs died of heat stroke and dehydration last year has pleaded guilty to negligence under the Animal Protection Act.
Dave Deplaedt, 50, says he's accepting responsibility for the deaths of the dogs in September 2016.
He told the dogs' owners he doesn't expect forgiveness but is sincerely sorry.
His business is being fined $14,000, but a victim surcharge of $5,600 brings the total cost to $19,600.
Defence lawyer Scott Spencer told court his client didn't have much involvement in the kennel's day-to-day operations, trusting his staff to do the job.
Aurora died at a kennel in Saskatoon in September 2016. (Photo: CP/HO-Sarah Gee)
A statement from one of the staff said the only smells from the kennel the next morning were "pee, puke and death."
Deplaedt's apology rang hollow for Dawn Loessin, who lost her dog Linc — her daughter's therapy dog — in the incident.
"It meant absolutely nothing," she said, noting Deplaedt didn't contact them after the deaths. "If it would've happened before, it would've felt a lot more heartfelt."
Spencer said his client didn't reach out because he was following Spencer's instructions.
Loessin and other owners sat wiping tears away as Crown attorney Robin Ritter described the conditions that led to the dogs' deaths.
Temperature in room was 37 C
He said the ambient temperature in the room when the dogs were found was 37 C, despite two oscillating fans being on.
The thermostat had been set to 30 C, with the "heat" option selected on the manual device.
Ritter read out text messages between staff members on the night of Sept. 9, where an employee told their supervisor the room was too hot and there was no room for the dogs in a cooler area.
She was told to put the fans on, and left for the night after not being instructed to stay.
The dogs died overnight with no access to water due to a standard procedure intended to prevent overnight urination.
"If it was too hot, why didn't they call us?" Loessin asked. "We would've had somebody come and get our dog."
The Crown also told the court heating problems had been ongoing since February 2011, when the thermostat was re-wired improperly.
Ritter said interviews with staff indicated the dogs were routinely moved downstairs, and employees were told not to spend more than five minutes in the room.
Arden, an autism service dog, was one of the dogs killed at a Saskatoon kennel from overheating. (Photo: Facebook)
Staff also told officials management was made aware of the problem repeatedly.
"We had the opportunity to identify a problem, to resolve that problem and ultimately protect the animals that were in our care," Deplaedt said outside court. "We didn't do that."
There was also an indication from Deplaedt and Spencer of individual payments to the dog owners.
Loessin couldn't disclose how much her family received due to an agreement, but said it doesn't fix what happened.
"I'd give every penny back to have Linc back,” she said.
(CKOM, CJWW, CTV Saskatoon)
Also on HuffPost: