Saturday, March 6, 2021

Karin Robertson found not guilty of abusing her dogs

Well actually I don't think that's exactly what she was charged with - don't charge me with defamation for that throwaway line Karin - you're probably feeling litigous right now - the title of this post is a joke - I'm JOKING!  HAHA! We're laughing!

So I have written several, nay you could almost say I've written many - posts over the years on this blog about the justice system in this province of Nova Scotia - the place that we love to call home - the place that we choose to live in - in no small part because it is so breathtakingly beautiful and is such a great place to own a dog in - but I've got to tell you - when it comes to animal justice - we are at the rank bottom of the scale - probably in North America.

Some would say that Karin Robertson won her trial yesterday in provincial court where Judge Ronda van der Hoek decided that what Karin Robertson was saying was the truth and what the SPCA was saying was not the truth.  It's interesting because a few months earlier there was another semi-judicial hearing - an animal cruelty appeal board hearing - when Ms. Robertson had an opportunity to get her animals back while she waited for her case to move through the courts - and she was denied that option - and when that happens the animals are adopted out - so all 35 of the dogs seized from her kennel were adopted out at that time - never to be given back to her - so I'd imagine now that she'swon her case shell be suing the SPCA toute suite.

But the thing is - we were all at the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board Hearing - we all heard what was said - the conditions that she had her dogs in - we all heard it -we all know - we all know that she was in fact not keeping her dogs in sanitary safe conditions and that dogs that went into homes sometimes had life long behaviour problems - everyone knows this - why Judge Van Der Hock chose to ignore this - I wasnt at the trial - I don't know why one side was a better lawyer obviously.

And once again - that seems to be what it comes down to.

We have a lady who had for years not taken proper care of her border collies jack russels - and hey - remember when she sold two pupies to a guy, who bounced the cheque and when she wanted the puppies back said he lost the puppies?  And remember after her dogs were seized seeing a photo of her at Walmart returning dog food - used dog food - to get the money back - (picture taken January 8, 2020 and her animal cruelty appeal board hearing was December 30, 2019) now that's cold - I guess she wasn't figuring shew as going to get her dogs back from the SPCA, eh?  That was cold.

Anyhoo - so what can we do - who's to blame - where can we direct our hot blooded anger at this point?  I mean a lady got 3 months house arrest for letting her dog starve to death inside a parking garage inside Staples - and we still let this shit go on - and do you know who I think is to blame for these lax end results?

It's the crown prosecutors and judges - and mostly the judges - they do not see any value in anything that is not human - and we have to start talking about it - it's 2021 - if we see any value in our canine and feline companions - we have to start demanding it from every level of government - that Ms Robertson was found not guilty for what she was doing in Wilmot is ridiculous.  Her not guilty verdict is a symptom of our justice system in Nova Scotia and should NOT go un noticed - please don't let it go un-noticed - I'm sure all the people who now own the 35 dogs who are the survivors at the time of the raid by the SPCA would really like it if something happens beyond this.

It was NOT the NS SPCA who did something wrong in this case - which ludicrously, Judge Van Der Hock tried to make it sound (see article below) - it was Karin Robertson alone who did wrong things - and did it for years- people have known for years about her in Nova Scotia and everyone sighed for relief when she was finally raided and all her dogs were taken away - the fact that she's been found "not guilty" and is now been given carte blanche to start breeding again? I can't imagine - I hope people will do their due diligence - that'sfor sure.

Anyway - what a depressing outcome for the dogs of Nova Scotia this week - what needs to happen is that compassion training needs to happen for all justice employees in Nova Scotia - but like that is ever going to happen - especially judges - but that would be awesome - can you imagine if a judge saw that an animal was a sentient being and deserved the same justice as a living human?  Unbelieveable - what a world we'd be living in then.

In Nova Scotia right now our Justice Minister is Mark Furey - here is  his contact information - - if you really want to get busy - we have a new premier who is looking to our next election - I think it'd really be nice to put animals on the next election - so Iain Rankin - his contact information is here - - animals really do deserve more than what our justice system here in Nova Scotia have given them - and while you're talking to these two individuals - bring up Snoopy - he really needs to come home.  Thanks.

Here is what an article desribing the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board last December looked like:

N.S. SPCA, Robertson nowhere near agreeing on facts at appeal hearing 

 HALIFAX, N.S. — At an appeal hearing Monday, the Nova Scotia SPCA and Karin Robertson painted two very different pictures of the conditions 35 dogs were living under near Wolfville on Dec. 10. 

 JoAnne Landsburg, chief inspector of the N.S. SPCA, testified she first visited Robertson’s property on Sept. 18 as part of an investigation after two special constables came back with “many concerns with multiple dogs” from an inspection two days prior. 

 “I was immediately hit with the smell of dog and urine when I walked inside,” Landsburg testified during the SPCA’s first public appeal hearing at a Halifax hotel. Landsburg had multiple issues, such as stacked crates, the number of dogs running around and unsanitary conditions, so she gave Robertson a list of orders to follow and said the SPCA would return to follow up. 

 The SPCA returned for several inspections after Lansdburg’s initial visit and gave Robertson more compliance orders. 'An array of negative states' During a followup visit with animal behaviouralist Rebecca Ledger in October, Landsburg estimated she saw upward of 82 dogs on Robertson’s property. “(Robertson) could never tell me how many dogs were on the property,” Landsburg said. 

 Aside from the living conditions and the number of dogs, Ledger was concerned about the dogs' behavioural patterns. “It appeared they were suffering from an array of negative states,” Ledger testified. “They were incredibly fearful of strangers. 

They were very shut down, some of them.” Ledger noted some dogs she deemed aggressive were in pens next to one another, while some mother dogs were locked in crates. Final chance to surrender One of the dogs seized by the Nova Scotia SPCA from what the organization said was a puppy mill near Wolfville. - Nova Scotia SPCA One of the dogs seized by the Nova Scotia SPCA from what the organization said was a puppy mill near Wolfville. - Nova Scotia SPCA Landsburg wrote Robertson a letter near the end of November, asking her to surrender some of her dogs. “I wanted to give her one more final opportunity to reduce the number of dogs she had,” Landsburg said. 

 “When I did this, we had a plan in place with a time frame because I wasn’t prepared to let those conditions go on forever.” When Robertson didn’t surrender any more dogs to the SPCA, Landsburg obtained a search warrant. 

 On Dec. 10, 19 border collies and 16 Jack Russell terriers were seized from Robertson’s property. Almost all of the dogs, some with catch poles around their neck, had to be carried to the vehicles because they would roll or were aggressive, Landsburg said. Landsburg showed many graphic photos of the kennel, inside of the house and fenced areas on Robertson’s property from the day of the seizure and a previous visit. 

 “You couldn’t walk anywhere without stepping in feces,” Landsburg said as she clicked through photos of green-coloured water pooled outside in a fenced-in area, kennels with paw prints up the walls and dirty wood floors. 

 “I don’t think the kennels had ever been cleaned or sanitized.” Many in attendance, most in support of the SPCA, gasped, mumbled to one another or shouted words like “disgusting” as the photos were shown, while some left the packed room shaking their heads. Since seizing the dogs, five Jack Russell terriers and six border collies have been born. Another litter is expected at any time, Landsburg said. Witnesses for the SPCA testified all of the border collies have high levels of anxiety. 

 “The dogs are extremely shut down in fear,” Amy MacRae, a dog trainer who has been working with the border collies, testified. “One of the puppies himself was so withdrawn from human contact he would pretty much risk self-injury to avoid it.” Every one of the border collies was severely matted with burs in their fur, a veterinarian with the SPCA said, adding some of the Jack Russells had roundworms.

 'I was doing everything I could to accommodate them, but I couldn’t' “People who visit prior to or during chores may see an unclear area, but I assure you when I complete my chores, it’s clean.” - Karin Robertson But Robertson, 57, said the SPCA has been inspecting her place for five years and only started having an issue with her after a couple made a false post about her business on Facebook in July. “This is when it started really. 

It was shared 1,500 times and it went from ‘don’t buy a puppy from Karin Robertson’ to ‘this is a puppy mill,’” said Robertson, who was representing herself. In August 2019, Robertson said she had too many border collie puppies because she was having difficulties selling them. “I was doing everything I could to accommodate them, but I couldn’t, so I contacted the SPCA for help,” she said, adding she surrendered some of her dogs. 

 Robertson said after she was given the compliance orders, she was “working really hard" to make sure things were up to code. Robertson said the kennel floors had foam insulation and each had a mat or cot. She showed pictures of some kennels labelled with names, but most of the pictures didn’t include the floor. “I clean my kennel twice a day and more often if needed,” Robertson said. Robertson, who wasn’t present during the seizure of the dogs, said it may smell like feces or urine before she cleans the kennels, inside of her home or other areas. “I live with my dogs in my home. It’s not going to be picture perfect,” Robertson said. 

 “People who visit prior to or during chores may see an unclear area, but I assure you when I complete my chores, it’s clean.” Robertson claimed the SPCA traumatized the dogs during the seizure and that may be why they’re showing anxious tendencies. “SPCA visits are stressful because their visits are not planned, they are not my friend who I welcome into my home,” Robertson said. “They are enforcement officers who make me feel uncomfortable, leading my dogs to feel uncomfortable.” 'I’ve never seen any problems with the dogs' 

Robertson showed a few videos, some recent and others not, of dogs running through a field, one dog chewing a bone and another walking near her feet. “The SPCA have never witnessed my dogs in their home on a day-to-day basis in their natural environment exhibiting normal behaviour,” she said. All four of Robertson’s witnesses, her friends who have been around the dogs, said they have never seen the dogs act aggressively. Darren LeBlanc said he watched the dogs for a week and experienced no issues. 

 “I’ve never seen any problems with the dogs. There was no aggression or all this stuff that I’ve been hearing,” LeBlanc said. “I think Karin is not this evil person she’s been made out to be.” When questioned by Michael Scott, the lawyer representing the SPCA, Robertson admitted she did sell a dog to a buyer not knowing it was pregnant. 

The dog later had a litter of puppies on the buyer’s couch. Scott pressed Robertson on questions about puppy mills, as the SPCA believes Robertson was orchestrating one, but she declined to answer as she “is a professional, not a puppy mill.” Robertson said the SPCA unlawfully removed the dogs from her property and is asking for the return of her 35 dogs plus the money the SPCA has raised for the dogs. “When I read the letter (in November), 

I fear the SPCA were planning on seizing my dogs regardless of compliance,” Robertson said. The Animal Cruelty appeal board, consisting of three people selected by the province, has two business days to give a verbal decision. Near the end of the public hearing, the SPCA issued a news release stating they have charged Robertson with two counts of animal cruelty under the Animal Protection Act. Robertson is to appear in Kentville provincial court on Jan. 21 at 9:30 a.m. The charges are separate from the appeal.


This is an article published after Karin Robertson was found NOT GUILTY

Kings County woman acquitted of cruelty charges, judge says some SPCA orders not lawfully given 

 A Kentville provincial court judge has acquitted a Kings County woman on animal cruelty charges, saying the SPCA made orders that were not lawful and that the accused exercised due diligence in looking after her dogs. 

 Karin Robertson was charged with two counts of allowing an animal to be in distress and one count of disobeying orders after the SPCA seized 35 dogs from her breeding operation near Wolfville in December 2019. 

She was acquitted Wednesday. In July of 2019, malicious online statements caused business for her border collie kennel to dry up. 

With puppies being born and no one to purchase them, the number of dogs increased to around 80, including Jack Russell terriers that she also raised. In early August she started working to decrease the number of dogs, which Judge Rhonda van der Hoek described as “Herculean efforts.” 

Robertson reduced the number of dogs she had by more than half, to numbers below what she had during her annual SPCA inspection in May. An SPCA inspector visited Robertson on an unrelated matter in September, and between that visit and December the SPCA issued five orders with 44 directives with which it said Robinson was required to comply. 

 The directives included many under the Canadian Kennel Club's code of practice for Canadian kennel operations, as well as a few under the standards of care for cats and dogs regulations, which is a provincial regulation. 

 Van der Hoek said the orders to comply with directives under the code or practice “were not lawfully given, were ambiguous, unnecessary, and caused Ms. Robertson to divert precious time to interpretation and taking actions that further reduced her available time to care for and reduce the number of dogs.” 

 Robertson is not required to follow directives related to the code of practice, the judge said, because the Animal Protection Act does not incorporate it by reference, nor does it provide authority to issue orders under the code. 

 Van der Hoek said while directives under the standards of care regulations around food, water and shelter were lawful, they did not apply to Robertson's operation. 

 “She was directed to provide continuous shelter to dogs that were kept outdoors. I find there was no evidence presented by the Crown, that I accept, that the animals were kept outdoors,” van der Hoek said. She said while Robertson was also ordered to not allow “excess excrement where dogs are kept,” there was no evidence of an excessive amount. 

 The judge also took issue with the order issued by the SPCA that Robertson must make sure the dogs had drinking water 24 hours a day. She said the regulations require that dogs have adequate access to water, which is defined as clean, at a drinkable temperature, and accessible in sufficient volume taking into account weather and temperature, to maintain normal hydration. “(Robertson) watered the dogs twice a day, and the puppies every few hours based on age,” van der Hoek said. 

“Despite SPCA insistence, it is not the standard to have water present at all times.” An SPCA veterinarian who examined the dogs after they were seized did not note that any of them were dehydrated. The judge said the two charges of causing an animal to be in distress were not borne out, as Robertson took due diligence to look after the dogs.

 “I accept the evidence of Ms. Robertson, who I found to be both credible and reliable, that she worked from approximately 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day caring for all the dogs and the puppies,” the judge said. 

 She said Robertson maintained the gruelling schedule while also dealing with a cancer diagnosis, her ailing mother, and reducing the number of dogs she had, along with the long list of directives. 

 “She knew what issues were priorities, such as hand-feeding puppies, so it should be no surprise that dogs that were in the rainy outdoors were not always bathed and brushed every day. That's was certainly an item that had to be pushed to the bottom of the list.” One of the accusations from the SPCA was that some of the border collies were in distress because they had some mats in their fur and were dirty. Robertson's efforts were due diligence, the judge said, and “even the SPCA could think of nothing else she could have done. 

It would be wise for them to consider the issue of due diligence during their investigations, rather than ignoring it until trial.” The judge said that where Robertson's testimony differed from the SPCA witnesses, “I prefer hers. 

For example, the reliability of SPCA witness inspector (Jessica) Oliver suffered under cross-examination when she overstated her efforts to clarify the orders.” 

 The judge also said that on the day of the seizure, there was no evidence to prove the dogs were in distress. “The dogs were in the house or the kennel and without their master. The SPCA executed the warrant, they entered their house and alarmed the dogs, slip-lining their necks and taking them away. It is not surprising this traumatic experience caused defecation, urination and hostile behaviour.” 

 Robertson broke down as she walked out of the courtroom. Her lawyer, Brian Casey, said outside court that the judge looked at five days of evidence and “that gave her an opportunity which other people haven't had to make sure that she was getting the facts right.” He said the judge gave “a fairly serious criticism about the way the SPCA behaved here. 

One of the regrettable things is that the SPCA essentially has the power of expropriation under the Act, and even now that it has been found that Ms. Robertson did nothing wrong, there is no process for her to get her dogs back, there is no process for her to be compensated.” The SPCA adopted out the dogs after the seizure, months before the trial started. Robertson said she doesn't know what's next for her, but she plans to explore her options. 

 “There needs to be changes in the system so this doesn't happen to anybody else,” she said. She said she suffers from definitive statements made by the SPCA that she was operating a puppy mill before the matter had even gone to court. “I'm not a puppy mill, I've never been a puppy mill,” she said. “It's still in the news. People have made a decision and I'm guilty no matter what happened today. “They've ruined my reputation, they've ruined my business, I've been ostracized in my community. That's not going to change, people have already made up their minds and the hate groups are on their high horse, and that's what they believe.”

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