Case Snapshot
Case ID: 16631
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull)
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Friday, Oct 16, 2009


Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Bud Wheatley

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

A P.E.I. man who operated an online pet store has been charged with causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to animals.

Bud Wheatley faces seven charges, five under the Criminal Code and two under the provincial Companion Animal Protection Act.

Wheatley, who up until about three years ago owned Snookums pet store in Charlottetown, ran PuppiesAcrossCanada.com. He took orders online for puppies and kittens and either transported the animals himself to buyers in the Maritimes or sent them by plane.

His website said he bought the animals from breeders and that a veterinarian inspected them for health problems.

The charges stem from a four-month investigation in 2009.

RCMP raided Wheatley's home in Covehead, on the North Shore, in October 2009. The provincial Department of Agriculture seized about 80 cats and dogs at the time and took them to the Humane Society.

Wheatley was served with a summons to answer to the charges of animal cruelty this week.

He declined an interview on Friday, saying his lawyers have told him not to talk.

Wheatley was in the news about three years ago after several people who bought puppies at Snookums claimed the animals died from the parvovirus within a week of coming home from the store.

At the time, Wheatley blamed the pet owners, saying he only sold healthy puppies. When business was good, he said he sold 3,000 puppies a year.

No charges were laid at that time, but Wheatley closed the store. He had been in business for about 15 years.

Wheatley is scheduled to be in court March 8 to answer to the charges against him.


Case Updates

The Department of Agriculture is investigating after seizing more dogs from the residence of an online pet store owner convicted in provincial court last week for animal cruelty.

After receiving a call from a concerned resident, department officials and a veterinarian went to Bud Wheatley's Covehead home Saturday night and took several dogs to the P.E.I. Humane Society.

The seizure came four days after Wheatley, 62, was sentenced in provincial court to five months in jail for improperly caring for animals.

Agriculture Minister George Webster confirmed the seizure and investigation.

"It's true the dogs were confiscated but the investigation is ongoing,"Webster said Wednesday.

Webster wouldn't say who contacted the department or give details on the seizure.

"There are no conclusions yet and I probably shouldn't get ahead of myself."

Wheatley made plans for a caregiver to look after his aunt, who was living in his residence, while in jail. Both reportedly left the house and dogs behind before the department received the call.

While the department and the Humane Society wouldn't give the number of dogs taken from Wheatley's home, media reports said the number as 17.

Wheatley's personal dog, 13-year-old Sacha, was among the 17. Sacha was the sole exception to a court order imposed last week restricting Wheatley from owning pets for 10 years.

Wheatley was also ordered to pay $68,000 for the Humane Society's care of 76 dogs and cats seized from his property about a year ago on Oct. 2009.

Wheatley had been selling the animals on his website, PuppiesAcrossCanada.com, but veterinarians described conditions as disgusting and appalling.

One of the dogs died before it could be treated. Several others looked starved and two had to be put down but most were adopted from the Humane Society by the time of Wheatley's sentencing.

Officials at the Department of Agriculture and the Humane Society declined to comment on the condition of animals seized Saturday.

No additional charges have been laid against Wheatley.
Source: The Guardian - Oct 14, 2010
Update posted on Oct 17, 2010 - 12:32AM 
Bud Wheatley, owner of PuppiesAcrossCanada.com, was sentenced to five months in jail Tuesday for causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to animals.

Wheatley, 62, was also ordered by a provincial court in Charlottetown to pay a $200 fine and cover $68,000 in expenses incurred by the provincial Department of Agriculture during both the seizure of the animals and their care. He's also prohibited from owning any companion animals for 10 years with the exception of his 13-year-old dog Sacha.

He told the court he had a hard time keeping staff and couldn't sell enough animals.Bud Wheatley pleaded guilty in court on Tuesday.Bud Wheatley pleaded guilty in court on Tuesday. (CBC)

"He knows that he was ultimately responsible for the situation that led to the problems with the animals in his care and is remorseful it got to the point it did," said Wheatley's lawyer, Brenda Picard.

Wheatley had been facing five criminal charges and two under the provincial Companion Animal Protection Act in connection with a raid by RCMP officers on his place of business on P.E.I.'s North Shore in October 2009. He pleaded guilty early Tuesday to one criminal charge and one under the provincial act.

About 80 cats and dogs were seized in the raid and taken to the P.E.I. Humane Society for treatment. Some were emaciated, two had to be euthanized and one died before it could be treated.

"Almost every furry animal was severely matted, there was filth," said Crown attorney Lisa Goulden. "Many of the animals had infections, ear infections, ear mites; some of the animals had lice. A lot of the animals showed lack of grooming, their nails were too long. The kennels themselves were coated with feces and urine."

Judge calls case 'incredible'

Officials said the animals were kept in a storage shed in packed kennels stacked three high. There was little ventilation and poor lighting. The animals received no exercise and their food and water dishes were dirty.

Wheatley had previously operated the pet store Snookums in Charlottetown, and was in the news with customers complaining that dogs they bought from him were seriously ill. Wheatley blamed the customers, saying he sold only puppies.

Wheatley closed Snookums about three years ago, and went on to operate PuppiesAcrossCanada.com.

"We know now that what happened to those animals was a crime and it was punished and the full force of justice system was shown today," said Kelly Mullally, executive director of the P.E.I. Humane Society.

Judge Nancy Orr called this case "incredible" and said she found it surprising that Agriculture Department officials allowed Wheatley to operate for 15 months without a licence, even though inspectors visited his operation.

The court heard the department is reviewing training for its staff and the way they conduct their inspections.
Source: CBC - Oct 5, 2010
Update posted on Oct 17, 2010 - 12:29AM 

References

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