The OPP and OSPCA are not laying charges in a case involving a group of dogs in poor condition on a Haliburton-Bancroft border property.

The case involved a group of more than 20 dogs, whose alleged images went viral in a Facebook post Feb. 22. The dogs were taken in by the Siberian Husky Assistance and Rescue Program (SHARP) in Peterborough as officials investigated the situation.

Bancroft OPP Const. Philippe Regamey said the investigating officer had finished and no charges would be laid. He noted the owner had already been getting assistance from SHARP before police involvement.

“The owner was already in contact with them and getting support as he was unable to care for them, Regamey said. “Once we were involved, we expedited that process and the dogs were removed and cared for.”

The dogs attracted attention in a Facebook post from Jennifer Martin, who attended the scene with OPP. She described the dogs as being too weak to stand, with no food or water to be found.

Martin said she suspects the investigation may have been impacted by the transition of animal welfare investigations between OPP and Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA). The OSPCA announced March 4 it would no longer investigate and enforce animal cruelty law once its contract expired April 1.

“I sympathize with the OPP and OSPCA,” Martin said. “It was just really bad timing to get this situation properly investigated by cruelty experts.”

Both OPP and OSPCA told The Highlander the other organization was the lead on the investigation.

“We as the OPP were waiting to hear back from the OSPCA, who were taking the lead,” Regamey said.

“Our role was one of support, as police have the same jurisdiction as Ontario SPCA officers,” OSPCA
associate director of communications Melissa Kosowan said.

In an email March 28, SHARP board member Sally Kirkby said the dogs were still under its care.

However, Martin said she and other animal welfare advocates have become concerned by the lack of status updates on the dogs.

“We just want to make sure these dogs have been cared for and rehabilitated,” Martin said.

SHARP did not respond to a follow-up request for comment for more details about the status of the dogs and what happened around Feb. 22.

“We will not be doing any follow-up stories with any media/publication regarding these or any other dogs through our rescue,” Kirkby said. “We would just like to get on with our rescue work.”

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