Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18590
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Friday, Sep 16, 2011

Disposition: Convicted

» Nicole Labombard
» Charlene Labombard

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

Officials have swooped in on a puppy mill near Shawville, seizing more than 500 malnourished dogs from the "Paws R Us" kennel in what officials say could be the largest animal cruelty case in the Quebec's history.

The dogs were found Friday on a property in a rural area west of Montreal. They were living in poor conditions without sufficient food and water.

Guy Auclair, a spokesman for the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, said the scale of the seizure is without precedent in Quebec.

"We have had this kind of situation before, but [with] a lower number of animals," Auclair said in an interview Saturday.

Auclair said the dogs were different breeds and ranged in age from puppies to fully-grown.

Many were found suffering from skin and respiratory problems, he said.

They were placed under the care of Humane Society International, which had already transported several hundred dogs to a treatment center Saturday.

Other dogs received treatment at the scene.

"This is definitely one the largest operations that we've ever come across in Canada," said Lauren Scott, a spokeswoman for the organization who was at the site.

"It also involves some of the worst conditions we have seen to date. I personally can say that I found it heartbreaking to see what these dogs have endured."

The investigation is ongoing and charges could be laid against the operators of the puppy mill, Auclair said.

It will be up to the courts to decide whether the dogs will be put for adoption or returned to their original owners, he said.

Scott said she's hopeful that's the case.

"They just so desperately need a second chance so we'll be turning to the public for that," she said.

Paws "R " Us is owned by members of the Labombard family, who have been running the facility for more than 16 years.

Co-owner Nicole Labombard said that the confiscated dogs were not mistreated.

"There's a veterinarian that visits the facility every two weeks and vaccinates my puppies," she told in a phone interview Saturday.

Labombard says the facility has automated feeding equipment on every animal pen and that the visiting veterinarian would have told her if the puppies were malnourished.

"I'm losing my livelihood and I'm very upset," said Paws "R" Us owner Charlene Labombard on Friday, holding back tears. "It just breaks my heart."

The kennel does not screen the dogs for genetic disease, as some breeders do, but the buildings are cleaned and disinfected daily, Labombard said. The kennel breeds about 30 types of dogs in its barns.

Paws "R " Us kennel made headlines in 2006 when they sued Lorie Gordon, a Brockville dog owner, for libel because of comments she made about the business on an Internet bulletin board.

Gordon bought a Labrador retriever from Paws "R" Us and had it euthanized two years later after it developed a heart murmur and painful hip dysplasia.

The kennel gave her a golden retriever as a free replacement.

It scratched itself until it bled because of itchy mange and was now being treated for epilepsy.

Gordon was ordered to pay $14,000 after a judge found she had libelled the commercial dog breeder online.

The province has long been considered the puppy mill capital of North America, with an estimated 800 unregulated breeding operations in Montreal alone.

Quebec was named "the best province to be an animal abuser" in the 2011 annual report prepared by the U.S.-based Animal Legal Defense Fund.

The Quebec agriculture, fisheries, and food ministry, which inspected the site, says the Humane Society is in need to things like dog toys and blankets.

To find out how you can help, contact the Humane Society International Canada at 514-395-2914.

Case Updates

The owners of a Quebec kennel pleaded guilty to 17 animal cruelty charges Thursday roughly two months after more than 500 neglected dogs and puppies were seized from a commercial breeder in the largest rescue in Canadian history.

Charlene and Nicole Labombard, the owners of Paws "R" Us, a kennel operating near Shawville, Que., were also fined more than $10,000 in a western Quebec courthouse.

The Humane Society International/Canada can now start the process of finding homes for the animals, which were seized from the commercial breeding facility in September after several investigations indicated improper care.

"It's a very happy outcome. We're thrilled with the agreement that has been reached," said Dean Pogas, a spokesman for Humane Society International/Canada.

"It was the largest commercial breeding facility that we've ever been involved with."

Anima-Quebec now has custody of the dogs, which are being cared for at a shelter in La Chute, Que.

The Humane Society has been helping to care for the animals for more than two months at an emergency shelter near Montreal while awaiting a hearing to determine custody.

The settlement means the Quebec government gains custody of the rescued dogs.

Since the seizure of more than 500 dogs, more than 90 puppies have been born.

Animal welfare officials welcomed the settlement, which they say also sends a strong message to unethical breeders who put profits above animal care.

Humane Society officials said this case involved some of the most inhumane conditions its animal rescue team had every encountered, with hundreds of dogs denied basic needs, proper care and socialization.

The seizure followed an inspection by authorities in which multiple infractions related to the security and welfare of the animals were observed.

Dozens of breeds will now be available for adoption once they have all been spayed or neutered.

The Humane Society expects to be flooded with calls of potential adopters.

"There's everything from a chihuahua to a St. Bernard to a Great Dane," Pogas said. "We're really hoping to be able to close the shelter before Christmas."

Anyone interested in adoption can visit

The Labombards are expected to return to court in February.
Source: - Nov 25, 2011
Update posted on Nov 25, 2011 - 9:01AM 
Nicole Labombard tried to convince a Campbell's Bay courtroom Wednesday that she should be granted custody of more than 500 dogs that were taken from her kennel two months ago.

The dogs are in the care of Humane Society International Canada after what quickly became known as the country's largest animal seizure.

There have been several complaints against the Paws R Us kennel over the years. Labombard is accused of running a puppy mill and not being able to properly care for the hundreds of canines.

The lawyer representing the kennel says the owners were in the process of improving conditions for the dogs when authorities shut them down.

"They're receiving critical care and that is HSI Canada's key concern," said Michael Bernard of HSI Canada.

Berchard says the hope is for HSI to gain custody of the dogs and find them happy loving homes.

It is costing HSI $6,000 per day to care for the animals. The organization is managing the cost with the help of donations from volunteers.

Labombard's lawyer argues the seizure was illegal and since then they've tried to make a deal with the Quebec government.

"We offered to split the number of animals but it's a complete refusal at this time," said Labombard's lawyer Jean-Carol Boucher.

For now the dogs are stuck in legal limbo while the judge takes time to make a decision.

It could be 10 days before there is a verdict.
Source: - Nov 23, 2011
Update posted on Nov 24, 2011 - 12:26PM 


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