A hearing into the OSPCA seizure of 71 dogs from a Trout Creek rescue farm got turned on its head this morning when the defence lawyer, Terrance Green, suggested to an Animal Care Review Board hearing that the dogs were now being abused while under the care of the North Bay and District Humane Society.
See related story: Defence cross examines. Seized dog hearing resumes
That brought a swift response from OSPCA lawyer Brian Shiller who interrupted Green by saying "that's not appropriate".
But Green continued, telling the hearing that he had heard evidence this morning from three people who had seen first-hand the state of the dogs at the local Humane Society.
He asked that the vet for the Ashworths, whose dogs were seized this summer, be allowed to examine the dogs at the Society to determine the state of the animals himself.
Shiller, visibly angry then accused Green of trying to get the allegation reported in the paper and told the hearing that in all his time as a lawyer he had never seen another lawyer "pull a stunt like this".
He then said Green's action was "unconscionable behaviour".
Rebecca Ashworth then shouted "They are my dogs and I want them seen today ," and stormed out of the hearing, slamming the door.
She explained later that, "Because [Brian] Shiller said if we wanted them seen, to submit the proper request. Our side has requested multiple times for Dr. Porter to see them, but they have ignored every request."
Green's request then drew a response from ACRB board member Laurie Sandford, who told him that it was "not the appropriate forum to address this concern" and told him to report the allegation to the appropriate body.
That would be the OSPCA, said Green, the very body the Ashworths are fighting to get their dogs returned.
As the hearing broke for lunch, Rose Van Meirlo, who has had her own battles with the Humane Society told BayToday that she was at the Society office yesterday and saw the dogs.
"They had name tags with numbers on them and that's when I clued in that the dogs were Randy and Rebecca's.
"I met SamSam (one of the seized dogs), he was fearful, terrified. He had an infection on the leg that was amputated, going down to his private area. I met Connie (another dog). She has a sunken-in eye leaking really bad and most of the dogs are not groomed, they don't look healthy. Their coats aren't shiny, they're greasy and they smell like faeces and urine."
Two dogs are reportedly wearing neck cones.
When Van Mierlo asked, she was told that the staff "were told not to speak about the dogs back there, can't tell me anything about them, nothing --- they had to keep quiet."
She's positive the dogs belong to the Ashworths as she checked on the owner's Facebook page to make sure.
"Every dog that I'd seen was on their page."
Green's action came on the heels of him being scolded by Sandford for not being organized and not providing vet records to the OSPCA lawyers.
Shiller has asked for veterinarian Bob Porter's records of any of the 71 dogs in question. Porter is the Ashford's vet.
The hearing has dragged on at a snail's pace and now has completed its twelfth day.
There was no testimony when the hearing resumed after lunch. Instead the audience was told that the participants in the hearing felt threatened, and that the hearing would continue tomorrow with police protection.
There are also reports that a couple of people entered the Humane Society building over lunch and started videotaping the dogs. Reports indicate the people were thrown out.
Neither the OSPCA nor Humane Society returned calls requesting comment.
The Animal Care Review Board (ACRB) hears appeals from individuals whose animals have been seized or who have been issued orders by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.