A large group of dogs, which appeared to be in poor condition, were taken from a county property following a viral Facebook post Feb. 22.

The incident was revealed to the public in a post by Jennifer Martin, who said she came across more than 20 dogs in a forested area near the County of Haliburton and Bancroft border. In a follow-up post, Martin said the dogs were surrendered and taken in by Siberian Husky Assistance and Rescue (SHARP), based in Peterborough.

“Some dogs were too weak/sick to stand,” Martin said in an email. “There was no food, water or bedding anywhere to be found. There was no evidence anyone had been there since the last big snowfall we had over a week ago.”

SHARP board member Sally Kirkby said the dogs were retrieved from one private property at the request of OPP. She said SHARP had been involved in assisting with the dogs a little while before the Facebook
post was made.

“The dogs are now all under SHARP’s care and are all doing well and getting vet inspections,” Kirkby said.

Kirkby would not disclose how many dogs were taken from the scene.

The original Facebook post, which has since been deleted, included video of the scene in a forested area as well as a photo of one of the dogs. The post said people were gathering food and water to help the dogs.

“I decided to post the picture because I am an animal welfare advocate,” Martin said. “The most important thing was helping those dogs as quickly as possible.”

Kirkby said the dogs were not abandoned and were not chained to trees, as the Facebook post originally asserted. She said they actually had dog houses which were not visible due to the snow.

Volunteers quickly came to the dogs’ aid, Martin said. But she said the post also attracted threats, which started when she referred to them as sled dogs.

“It has brought out the very best and the very worst kinds of people who can be described as passionate about their opinions. Unfortunately, as a result of my involvement I have been threatened with physical violence,” Martin said.

In a February 26 Facebook post, Winterdance Dogsled Tours said the dogs’ owner had requested SHARP’s help before Martin’s post went up.

Ontario SPCA associate director of communications Melissa Kosowan said the organization is following up to ensure the “husky-type” dogs located are receiving care.

“To maintain the integrity of our investigation, we do not have any additional information we can share at this time,” she said in an email.

Martin said the dogs have been confirmed to be sled dogs, but Kosowan would not disclose that to The Highlander.

Martin said the experience has left her feeling unsettled.

“The experience was unique and deeply troubling,” Martin said. “I don’t support the idea of vigilante justice but I do believe in acting quickly to save lives of animals who have no voice of their own to be heard.”

Kirkby said those looking to help the SHARP organization can donate to its general GoFundMe through its website at sharprescue.ca or directly at gofundme.com/ u9v8x82k.
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