Elrose woman who runs cat rescue found guilty of causing animal distress


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In her ruling, the judge said that Dolores LaPlante clearly has a passion for caring for animals, especially cats, but having a big heart is not a defense under the Animal Welfare Act.

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Tracey Tufnail Dolores LaPlante can be seen here in a 2011 file photo. Photo by Greg Pender /Saskatoon star Phoenix

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A Saskatchewan woman who runs a provincial cat rescue program was found guilty of keeping animals in need.

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Judge Shannon Metivier ruled in a provincial court that Dolores LaPlante was required by the Saskatchewan Alley Cats Association, a registered charity, not to accept more cats than she could adequately accommodate and care for in her 400 square foot home in Elrose. In her ruling, the judge said that LaPlante clearly has a passion for caring for animals, especially cats, but having a big heart is not a defense within the meaning of the Animal Welfare Act.

In January 2019, animal welfare officers searched the house and found 106 cats, two dogs and a turtle. Many cats were euthanized after the attack. LaPlante was originally charged with animal cruelty and neglect, but those charges were maintained during the trial. The dogs were returned to her following a judgment by the Saskatoon Queen’s Bench in February 2019.

The judge accepted expert reports that the environmental conditions in the barn violate existing standards of animal husbandry and that the ammonia content in the barn has a detrimental effect on the health of the animals over time.

LaPlanate, who said several large bailouts in 2017 and 2018 resulted in Alley Cats having larger numbers of cats than usual, did not deny that her home was cluttered and dirty at the time of the raid, saying that she did saving herself on cats she lives in an environment that might shock other people.

She also said she was focused on providing food and medical care to the cats through cleaning and hygiene, and taking steps to ensure cats were isolated to prevent the spread of disease.