EDMONTON — An animal rights group is calling for an independent investigation into how three cats were left in an Edmonton Humane Society vehicle for 22 days.
The society says it did a full internal review to ensure something similar never happens again, but Animal Justice executive director Camille Labchuk says that's not good enough.
"It's a pretty serious conflict of interest in my view because the Edmonton Humane Society is itself tasked with investigating violations of animal protection laws,'' she said Tuesday.
"But in this case, they would have to investigate themselves.''
The society said in a statement Monday that the cats were transferred from another agency to the Edmonton shelter on March 27, but three felines were overlooked while unloading the vehicle.
In 2018, we still largely leave the enforcement of animal cruelty laws to private charities and, in our view, this isn't good enough anymore.
The animals weren't discovered until April 18, when staff were preparing for another animal transfer.
The cats were dehydrated, hungry and had urine burns on their paws. They have since been medically cleared and adopted into new homes.
The society said it has reviewed the staff members involved, as well as its procedures. Checks and balances have been added to minimize future mistakes while transferring animals.
It declined to provide further details for privacy reasons.
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Labchuk said she has no doubt the humane society is committed to helping animals and regrets what happened.
But she said there needs to be outside oversight, much like how instances of police misconduct are probed by external agencies.
"In 2018, we still largely leave the enforcement of animal cruelty laws to private charities and, in our view, this isn't good enough anymore,'' she said.
"There should be state agents involved in investigating and prosecuting these offences and there should be a pretty high degree of transparency and accountability.''
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