Case Snapshot
Case ID: 16997
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull), horse, other farm animal
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Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010

Disposition: Alleged
Case Images: 6 files available

Alleged: Walter Goba

Case Updates: 4 update(s) available

A Swan River man faces animal-cruelty criminal charges following the seizure of dozens of neglected animals at a dog- and horse-breeding farm.

The 68-year-old man was arrested after RCMP officers, local veterinarians and animal control officers inspected the breeding farm Wednesday.

Dogs were found traumatized in a barn where they'd been chained for so long flesh was growing over their chains, one witness said.

"The chains around one dog's neck were embedded and they had to be surgically removed," Swan Valley Animal Protection League president Maggie Romak said Thursday night.

Police said they found 27 dogs, 15 horses and two donkeys on the property. All the animals were removed.

Romak said some were in such bad shape that they may not survive, and all were emaciated.

"I would say they were obviously starved, like when you have a dog that defecates and turns around and eats it, that's how hungry he is. That's the definition of obviously starved," she said, her voice shaking with anger.

Police photographs show horses and donkeys with hooves grown out so badly they resemble curved sled runners. The animals were unhealthy and neglected, the RCMP said in a statement.

One pregnant mother dog about to deliver a litter remains at the local veterinary clinic. The other dogs were mainly juveniles, six months of age and up.

The dogs have been fostered out in groups until they are healthy enough to be adopted, Romak said. The horses and donkeys are together at another farm.

Remains were also found at the farm, Romak said.

"Animal carcasses were found stacked up in a pile and coyotes had been hauling them away and snacking on them."

The raid followed an investigation triggered by a complaint Nov. 27 alleging cruelty to animals on the property. The farm has been the subject of complaints about animal abuse for years and it is only now authorities decided to step in, Romak said.

"The big story is why this (farm) was never investigated over the 20 years that there have been allegations and complaints made against this place."

RCMP did not name the man facing charges. He is scheduled to appear in Swan River provincial court on Jan. 5.

Case Updates

A man accused of severely neglecting dozens of animals was hauled away in handcuffs from an auction involving horses seized from a Swan River-area farm.

Walter Goba, 68, was arrested Monday and is facing a charge of breaching a no-contact condition of an undertaking on dozens of animal cruelty charges. In December, he was arrested on 44 counts of cruelty to animals (abandon animal in distress). Recent court records show he is facing 47 counts of that charge.

In all, 27 dogs, 15 horses and two donkeys were rescued from the Swan River-area farm on Dec. 1, 2010.

Some of the hoofs on the equines were overgrown and curled, meaning the animals could hardly walk. Some of the dogs had flesh rotting around the neck from chain collars that had become embedded. Manure and feces were piled more than a metre high in some spots, RCMP said.

Goba was not to be in any place with Jeff Blythe, an animal control officer for the Rural Municipality of Swan River, court documents show. Blythe was at the auction for work.

Bonnie Riddell of Papa's Ranch Equine Rescue, who has been outspoken about the court case, went to the auction and bought six of the horses from the auction.

All of the horses up for auction were sold to three different buyers, but Riddell said she was surprised and disappointed there wasn't more interested bidders, particularly since the case has garnered a lot of media attention.

"There should have been lots of people there with their wallets open," she said in a telephone interview from Clandeboye, about 50 km north of Winnipeg. Most of the horses, Riddell said, have been nursed back to health and are in good shape.

"They had dramatically improved," she said.

Debbie Peterson took in three of the 27 dogs seized from the farm two months ago. Volunteers are fostering the dogs and it's hoped the animals can be adopted out in the near future.

Physically, Peterson said her trio of dogs are doing well, but there are still some question marks.

"Trust is a big issue. Their spirits have been broken," she said.

Goba is scheduled to appear in court in Swan River on Feb. 16.
Source: - Feb 2, 2011
Update posted on Feb 2, 2011 - 7:45PM 
A Swan River man who had numerous animals seized for mistreatment may be in possession of of those animals.

Walter Goba, who faces charges for animal cruelty, is said to have had his daughter buy the horses back for him.

Bonny Riddel, owner and operator of an equine rescue shelter, says she was competing with Goba's daughter for most of the horses.

Riddel tells us she was able to buy six of the available horses and is now working to see what will happen with the horses purchased by Carla Goba.
Source: - Feb 1, 2011
Update posted on Feb 1, 2011 - 9:30PM 
One of the volunteers who helped seize severely neglected animals from a Swan River-area farm said a jail cell would be too mild a punishment for a senior charged with dozens of counts of animal cruelty.

RM of Swan River resident Debbie Peterson saw first-hand the horrible conditions the animals " 27 dogs, 15 horses and two donkeys " were living in when she helped retrieve them Dec. 1.

While she's somewhat satisfied Walter Goba, 68, has been hit with 44 animal cruelty charges, she fears that, if convicted, his punishment will not equal the crime.

"He would be in a cage, but they would feed and water him and provide him with the necessities of life and that's far from what was provided for those animals," Peterson said.

RCMP, the local animal control officer and volunteers seized the animals after a mistreatment complaint was received Nov. 29. Manure and feces were piled more than a metre high in some areas.

Peterson said she saw chain collars that were embedded into the necks of dogs to the point where flesh was rotting and horses' hoofs so overgrown and curled they could barely walk.

Animals in the worst health remain in veterinary care, while others are being housed at various homes and farms in the area. Peterson is caring for three of the rescued dogs.

"They're still very terrified," Peterson said. "They run and try to hide or hide under one another and it appears someone has been beating them. It's not unique to the dogs I've taken in, they're all like this."

Peterson said she fears the mistreatment had been going on much longer and was critical of provincial officials for not acting sooner. "Maybe there are rules and regulations out there, but nobody has been willing to enforce them."

Anyone who has complained to the provincial vet office regarding the Goba case, or any other animal abuse situation, is asked to contact Papa's Ranch equine rescue through their website at
Source: - Dec 9, 2010
Update posted on Dec 9, 2010 - 8:20AM 
Animal welfare officers in Manitoba say they were aware of concerns about neglect at a dog and horse breeding farm in Swan River for two years but could not act on them until this week.

"We finally had an opportunity to act on it according to our bylaws, and we had a chance to do that [this week]," Jeff Blythe, an animal protection officer in the Rural Municipality of Swan River, told CBC News Friday.

On Thursday, the RCMP announced they had seized 44 emaciated animals, including horses, donkeys and dogs, from the property and arrested a 68-year-old man. He faces charges under the province's Animal Care Act and is due to appear in court Jan. 5.

Blythe said officials could not enter the property earlier but declined to provide details about why they couldn't do so, saying that would compromise the investigation into the case.

A Winnipeg woman who bought a dog from the facility told CBC News she flagged concerns to officials in 2008.

Susan Otto said she encountered disturbing conditions at the farm when she bought a dog there and that she had to get an air freshener for her car because the dog smelled so bad.

She was so concerned she called Manitoba's provincial veterinarian's office and the Minister of Agriculture at the time, Rosann Wowchuk.

"I spoke to her on the phone, and she told me that she was going to go out there and look over the place," Otto said.

She said she followed up because it did not appear that anything had changed.

"So then, about a month later, I called again and, oh yeah, they're monitoring him," Otto said she was told. "Well, nothing was done. There's still dead horses in the pasture."

Otto said she was told Manitoba was working on strengthening its animal welfare legislation.

"I reported this two years ago, and I phoned so many people, and they just got sick of me," Otto recalled.

She said the scenes in photos of the farm released by the RCMP Thursday were familiar to her.

"These pictures that I'm seeing now are what I saw then," Otto said.

Blythe said Manitoba's laws limited what he could do about the case.

"It was very frustrating," Blythe said. "You know what, it's just a matter of what you can and can't do pertaining to the law. I mean, I could only do what I could do."

Police said when they seized the animals, they were acting on a citizen's complaint about the farm made in late November.

Swan River is located about 450 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Source: - Dec 3, 2010
Update posted on Dec 4, 2010 - 10:46AM 


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