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|Prosecutor(s):|| Andrew Shatto|
|Defense(s): ||Clayton Conlan|
|Judge(s):|| Julia Morneau| CONVICTED: Was justice served?
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Monday, Dec 1, 2008
» Sandra Tomalin
» Beverley Tomalin
Case Updates: 1 update(s) available
Beverley Tomalin and Sandra Tomalin of Meaford have been charged under the Criminal Code of Canada with 12 counts of animal cruelty following the seizure of approximately 100 dogs of various mixed small breeds, including Bichons, Pekingese, Papillons and Lhasa Apso types. The Tomalin sisters have been charged with one count of wilful neglect of dogs and 11 counts of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide adequate medical attention.
A call was received from a concerned citizen regarding the care of the animals; based on the information provided a warrant was obtained. The Ontario SPCA investigated the residence on December 1, 2008. The dogs were found with severely matted fur, covered in feces and lacking medical care. Some of the dogs required immediate medical intervention and were examined by a veterinarian at the Ontario SPCA York Region Branch. The residence lacked proper ventilation and had extremely poor sanitation. The investigative team had to leave the residence frequently due to the ammonia in the air. The dogs were later forfeited to the Ontario SPCA, and many have since been adopted from the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society, Lincoln County Humane Society and Ontario SPCA York Region Branch.
Beverley Tomalin and Sandra Tomalin are scheduled to make a first appearance in court on May 14, 2009 in Owen Sound. If convicted, the accused may face a prohibition from owning animals, up to 18 months in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
|Two elderly sisters who had 100 dogs removed from their rural Meaford home in late 2008 have been banned from owning dogs for the rest of their lives.|
Beverley Tomalin, 71, and Sandra Tomalin, 68, pleaded guilty Monday morning to one count each of failing to provide care for their dogs, under the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The Crown and defence agreed to the resolution and all criminal charges against the sisters were dropped. The Tomalins had both been charged with one count of wilful neglect of dogs and 11 counts of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide adequate medical attention for the animals in their care. They were scheduled to go to trial on the charges later this month.
The sisters have both been banned for life from owning, having custody or care of, or living with any dog. Both women agreed to allow OSPCA inspectors to enter buildings on the property to ensure compliance with the order.
In an interview outside court, defence lawyer Clayton Conlan said the Tomalins are disappointed about not being able to own dogs for the rest of their lives, but are committed to complying with the order. Conlan said the Tomalins no longer have any dogs in their possession.
"They have accepted the fact that the order is a reasonable one," said Conlan, adding that the Tomalins are looking at the resolution as a chance to get on with their lives.
Conlan said a trial would have been difficult for the defence, particularly given the health of Beverley Tomalin, who suffered a stroke in 2008. She suffers from vascular dementia, hypertension and other symptoms from a left cerebral stroke that has significantly affected her mobility on her right side. Dr. Cam Tweedie of the Owen Sound Family Health Team provided an opinion last month that Beverley Tomalin would have been medically unable to take part in a trial.
Both sisters have limited education, leaving high school before completing Grade 10. They are both retired farmers and live on the farm. Neither is married or have children.
Conlan said the resolution will hopefully put the Tomalins in a position on their farm where they will have far fewer animals to care for, enabling them to focus their attention on the animals they still have.
"Any time there is a resolution it is a bit of a compromise on both sides," said Conlan. "This is not ideally what the Tomalins wanted, but they accept that it is a reasonable resolution.
"In the end this is a good result for Beverley and Sandra, given that all of the criminal charges against each have been withdrawn."
OSPCA Bruce-Grey branch investigator Jennifer Bluhm called the resolution a good one.
"It should hopefully ensure we are not back dealing with a similar issue on the same property," said Bluhm. "I am quite happy a resolution was able to be reached."
Bluhm said there will be unannounced visits to ensure compliance with the orders.
The investigation at the Tomalin farm began on Nov. 20, 2008 after the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Bruce-Grey branch received a complaint, according to the agreed facts read by assistant Crown attorney Andrew Shatto.
On Nov. 30, 2008 a warrant was obtained and on the morning of Dec. 1 OSPCA investigators, along with a veterinarian and OPP officers, attended the Tomalin property on Irish Block Rd. in Meaford.
In 2005, animal cruelty charges against the sisters were withdrawn in exchange for a peace bond and promises of future veterinary inspections at their farm. Those charges stemmed from a separate OSPCA raid on Jan. 16, 2004, when 16 dogs were seized.
On Dec. 1,2008, according to Shatto, the smell of ammonia in the house was overwhelming and the barking dogs were very loud making it difficult to communicate.
About 100 small breed dogs, including llasa apso, papillons and pekingese were found in every room in the house, including the upstairs bedroom and the basement.
"The dogs were living in very unsanitary and overcrowded conditions with most of the dogs extremely matted and many appeared to be urine-soaked and had feces matted into their fur," said Shatto.
Shatto described a home that was cluttered and in disrepair with holes in the floor, non-functioning plumbing and buckets of waste in the bedrooms, bathroom and on the front porch.
"The smell of ammonia was overwhelming and the investigators had to leave, despite wearing masks, to get their breath," Shatto said.
Little or no bedding was available to the dogs, most did not have water and many were found to be dehydrated and thin. Puppies were found in makeshift boxes with a buildup of feces and soiled paper. There was a dead puppy in a box in the dining room. Some of the dogs in the home had untreated medical conditions including ulcers of the eyes, dental disease, ear infections and tumours, Shatto said.
The veterinarian concluded the dogs were in distress in intolerable conditions and were not receiving adequate care and were removed from the property, Shatto said.
The dogs and one cat were taken to the provincial animal shelter in Newmarket where they were cleaned up and treated for their medical conditions. It took 20 staff and volunteers three days to bathe and groom the animals. The Animal Care Review Board found that the OSPCA was justified in removing the animals from the Tomalins and the animals were ultimately forfeited to the OSPCA in February 2009 as the costs for caring for the animals of $158,454 had not been paid.
Conlan said in court that while the Tomalins disputed some of the allegations, they admit the circumstances inside the house were crowded and that some of the dogs had untreated medical conditions.
"The Tomalins admit that some of the dogs had grooming deficiencies and in all of the circumstances, Beverley and Sandra Tomalin admit unequivocally that they failed to provide generally the standards of care generally for the dogs," Conlan said.
Shatto said in court that the Crown thinks the penalty agreed to under the resolution is a significant one.
Justice Julia Morneau said there seems to be overwhelming evidence care for the dogs was not being provided and found the sisters guilty of the charge.
|Source: owensoundsuntimes.com - Apr 14, 2010|
Update posted on Jun 24, 2011 - 4:29PM