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Thursday, Mar 23, 2006
Case Images: 1 files available
Alleged: Allan Elliot
Case Updates: 1 update(s) available
About 150 head of cattle were removed from an Annapolis Valley farm on March 23, 2006 in what the SPCA called the largest animal seizure ever in Nova Scotia. The cattle were taken from Allan Elliot's farm, where authorities said several animals had died from starvation in recent weeks.
SPCA president Judith Gass said they cattle were taken to Lawrencetown, N.S., for sorting before shipment to Sussex, N.B. RCMP Cpl. Steve Hudson said Elliot was arrested but there was no word on possible charges.
|When SPCA investigators opened the barn doors at an Annapolis Valley farm, they found 40 Holstein dairy cows in a putrid, knee-high mix of manure and urine. Some were too weak to stand. The ones that could get on their feet looked feeble and frightened. Some were trembling; others were wide-eyed and slow, as if in a daze. Across the road from the dilapidated century-old farmhouse, about 120 more cattle were milling about in the woods and pastures. They, too, were hungry and scared.|
Lying among them were three dead cows, the partly decomposed carcass of a calf, probably not more than a few weeks old, and one moaning cow too weak to stand. She was euthanized on the spot by one of two veterinarians who were part of a group of experts and volunteers who came to this 240-hectare farm to rescue the cattle, which were slowly starving to death. The provincial branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seized the ragged herd from a farm owned by Alan Elliott, whose family roots here go back several generations.
"It's overwhelming. I've never seen anything like this before," provincial SPCA president Judith Gass said in an interview as a group of about a dozen volunteers began rounding up the scrawny animals. This was the largest seizure in the Nova Scotia SPCA's history and is likely to set the volunteer group back more than $20,000, Ms. Gass said.
Mr. Elliott, 67, whom RCMP had arrested, sat in a jail cell while rescuers did their work. He had not been officially charged but police said he is facing one count of cruelty to animals under the Criminal Code and two counts under provincial legislation.
Also on hand during the complicated rescue, which took several weeks to plan, were several members of the SPCA, representatives from the provincial Agriculture Department, a staffer from the Natural Resources Department, four RCMP officers, some local farmers and a handful of volunteers. SPCA investigators have visited the farm before, as early as a year ago, Ms. Gass said.
Autopsies on dead cattle found on the farm two weeks ago showed those animals had died of starvation. The dairy cows from the barn were herded onto trucks and taken to the Lawrencetown Exhibition Grounds, where they will be sorted for transport to a large commercial farm in Sussex, N.B., until their fate is decided. That was the easy part. The toughest job was luring the Charolais beef cattle from the woods, where many of the now-skeletal animals have been running wild for years. It took almost a dozen men with rods and all-terrain vehicles and a tractor with a bale of hay to lure the animals out of the woods. Then they had to be herded through several pastures, across the Spa Springs Road, through a brook and finally up to the barn, where they could be loaded onto trucks, six in total, including three large double-decker vehicles. The cattle were easily frightened, so RCMP blocked off about half a kilometre of road, and bystanders and a group of reporters and photographers were kept far from the herd. It took several hours to round up the animals, and even then, a few stragglers could be seen in the farthest woods and pasture. SPCA officials were expected to be back at the farm today.
In addition to the charges, the SPCA will be seeking a lifetime ban on owning animals, Ms. Gass said. "This is not something we would be undertaking if we didn't feel it was absolutely necessary," she said. "We have tried but have been unable to work with the owner." Cpl. Steve Hudson, with the Annapolis detachment of the RCMP, said four officers were at the scene to assist with safety and traffic control. SPCA officials had also expressed some concern because of a letter Mr. Elliott had faxed to them and to some local media outlets. At least a couple of copies of the letter were handed over to police. Mr. Elliott was arrested without incident, Cpl. Hudson said. "I'm glad that something's finally happening," said Robert Noble, vice-president of the Annapolis County Federation of Agriculture, who was at the farm to help out. The SPCA fed Mr. Elliott's cattle last winter when he ran out of hay. And they had been trying to feed them for the past few weeks, since it became obvious that he could not afford to feed them again this past winter. The provincial Agriculture Department contributed $3,000 toward the feed costs and is also expected to assist with some of the bills for moving and caring for the animals. Mr. Elliott was certified as an organic beef and dairy farmer but lost his certification about five years ago. He said in an interview with this newspaper last month that he has had no income since then and has been living on money borrowed from friends and family. He says his farm was ruined after a Labrador search and rescue helicopter from nearby 14 Wing Greenwood landed on his property years ago, contaminating his farm.
But military officials say a helicopter never landed on his property.
|Source: The Chronicle Herald - March 29, 2006|
Update posted on Mar 29, 2006 - 6:14PM
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