Protesters want action take over Peterborough County dog rescue operation

A group of concerned citizens and animal advocates gathered in front of the  Peterborough County OPP detachment on Lansdowne Street East on Thursday  afternoon calling for action to be taken against a local dog rescue that’s being  investigated over allegations of animal cruelty.

The three-hour long protest, which saw demonstrators wave signs at passing  motorists and pedestrians, was organized online through the Stop Mills Now group  on Facebook.

The group is led by Donna Powers, a member of the animal welfare advocacy  group dubbed the Humane Initiative.

Last week, Powers was contacted by four individuals who previously  volunteered at 4 Lucky Paws Rescue in Douro-Dummer Township, east of  Peterborough. The ex-volunteers came forward with allegations against 4 Lucky  Paws involving animal neglect and mistreatment.

The ex-volunteers provided several photographs, screenshots and videos —  “evidence” of the neglect and poor conditions, Powers says. Multiple videos were  posted to the group’s Facebook page, sparking outcry online.

The province’s Animal Welfare Services has launched an investigation into the  claims after being contacted immediately after a report was made to OPP, police  said. Peterborough County OPP are collaborating with AWS in the probe.

At the roadside demonstration, Powers was joined by Danielle Roberts and  Alison Casemore, two of the ex-volunteers.

The former 4 Lucky Paws volunteers say they reached out to Powers as a  last-ditch effort after filing two complaints on separate occasions with an  Ontario animal welfare hotline last July and again in April. After witnessing  worsening conditions at the rescue, Casemore says she was pushed to make an  in-person complaint with OPP last month.

“Where is the accountability? You’re bringing these dogs back with a  commitment to care and there were no resources for that,” Casemore said.

Both Casemore and Roberts want police to lay criminal charges against the  owner and operator of 4 Lucky Paws.

“We absolutely want to see criminal charges,” Roberts said.

While Roberts said she is “a little confused” as to why charges have not yet  been laid, she understands that police likely have to wait until the  investigation is completed.

In response to the allegations, a lawyer representing 4 Lucky Paws said the  claims are “completely false and being put forward by disgruntled former  volunteers who are acting with malice.”

Casemore said “the truth will prevail.”

“Facts are facts and evidence is evidence. You can say whatever you want but  you need to prove it in a court of law and I’ll be doing that,” she said.

Casemore was encouraged by the show of support on Thursday.

“It means the world. It means that it’s not just four people who were mad  about volunteering, it’s about a huge collective body who all had the same  experience who is screaming that it’s true and who demand that something be done  about it.”

The investigation is continuing and the allegations against the local rescue  remain unproven at this time.

Brendan  Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His  reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism  Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner

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