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Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Person of Interest: Amy Willder
Case Updates: 1 update(s) available
A Thunder Bay woman faces charges of animal cruelty following a three and half month investigation.
Amy Willder is charged under the Ontario SPCA act, after 10 purebred Boxer pups were removed from her residence. Officials say Willder failed to provide adequate water, kennel space and ventilation. Willder is scheduled to appear in court on July 31, 2006.
|A Thunder Bay woman who was breeding dogs in her home has been cleared of animal cruelty charges after an Ontario Court judge threw out a search warrant.|
In granting Amy Jo Willder's application that her Charter rights were violated, Justice Sandy Sargent had strong words for the Thunder Bay & District Humane Society.
"(Allowing) this warrant would bring the administration of justice into disrepute, without any question," Sargent said. "(The process to obtain it) was sloppy. It was careless."
Willder, 32, was charged last summer following an investigation. In February, humane society staff used a search warrant to go to her Limbrick Place home, where they seized 10 purebred boxer pups they believed were in distress.
Eventually, Willder was charged under the animal protection act and the Criminal Code with five offences.
On Friday, Sargent held a hearing to determine if Willder's constitutional rights had been violated.
Defence counsel Michael Harris argued the search warrant was invalid and the evidence stemming from it should be suppressed.
Humane society inspector Dagmara Cieslik said the investigation started when a passerby told another woman that Willder's dogs were in distress. She used that information and an e-mail from an unknown sender to apply for a search warrant.
Under questioning by Harris, Cieslik said the humane society's mandate is to look into every call they get. Sargent then asked Cieslik if that meant they would investigate a report of an abandoned dog on the moon. Would that trigger an investigation, even though the situation seems unlikely?
"Just the complaint itself is probable ground to investigate," Cieslik replied.
Sargent ruled that the vague complaints from two people used to support a request for a justice of the peace to sign a search warrant was so lacking in specificity that it was unreliable.
"I can say without equivocation that the information (the JP) got from the inspectors was misleading, wrong, inaccurate - almost completely (so)," he said.
He admonished the humane society for not having adequate training in the kind of details they need when they apply for a search warrant.
Nevertheless, prosecutor Alex Hardiejowski asked Sargent to allow the evidence collected from the search of Willder's house to be used at trial. He argued the information was still admissible as evidence.
"The charges are serious and they do affect the welfare of animals, namely dogs," Hardiejowski said.
But Harris countered that an invalid search means the seizure is unlawful.
"To allow (the physical evidence) would affect the fairness of the trial," Harris said.
Sargent agreed and excluded the evidence gathered from the search.
With no evidence to support the charges, Hardiejowski then asked Sargent to acquit Willder.
Before doing so, Sargent - who professed to be a dog lover - chastised Willder for potentially giving her dogs less than adequate care.
Harris replied that the dogs that were taken from Willder's home were examined by a veterinarian, who found they were thin as the result of parasites. Willder was aware of the condition and the dogs were receiving treatment for it.
As well, he noted the humane society was willing to return the pups if Willder paid $6,600 in medical bills they had incurred in caring for the 10 pups. She didn't have the means to do so, and the dogs were adopted out.
|Source: The Chronicle Journal - Feb 17, 2007|
Update posted on Feb 18, 2007 - 9:43PM
TBSource - June 21, 2006
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