Tuesday, November 25, 2008
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Puppy seller investigated in deaths
A Digby woman already facing animal cruelty charges is now being investigated by the SPCA for selling dying puppies.
Roger Joyce, chief provincial inspector with the SPCA in Nova Scotia, said Friday his agency, along with the RCMP and the SPCA in New Brunswick are investigating the sale of seven unhealthy puppies within the past two weeks.
He said four of the six dead puppies are being autopsied in Truro and a seventh is “hanging on” in a veterinary clinic in Prince Edward Island.
Four of the owners say they bought the puppies from a woman they now know as Gail Benoit, and who is already facing animal cruelty charges laid by the SPCA in Digby provincial court last year.
Ms. Benoit said Friday she was “roped in” by a puppy seller in New Brunswick where she purchased the dogs, and that she “had no indication” they were sick when she sold them.
“He had tons of dogs,” she said when reached briefly by cell phone Friday. “He had a good deal on the computer. I’ve got nothing else to say.”
Esther Smith of Earltown, Colchester County, said her husband and friend wanted to surprise her with a miniature dachshund which died 10 hours after she picked it up in a Windsor parking lot Wednesday morning.
“At first I was so sad. But now, I’m so angry,” Ms. Smith said Friday.
She said Ms. Benoit, driving in a van with the words Puppies R Us, handed her the dog wrapped in a curtain, saying she needed to be kept warm because she’d just had a bath. She paid $500 and the woman left.
“I was devastated when I opened the curtain. There was nothing to her. She was thin and too docile for a puppy.”
The animal lover cuddled the puppy she named Cinni Girl and fell in love during the three-hour drive home. Once home, the puppy wouldn’t eat and drank only a little water.
Ms. Smith called a veterinarian and made an appointment for Thursday, but the puppy died Wednesday evening.
Three other owners reached Friday described similar situations of making contact with Ms. Benoit online and arranging to meet in public parking lots to purchase Yorkshire terriers and Pomeranians for between $500 and $650. All described the puppies they received as being tiny, frail and lethargic. Most received paperwork, including veterinary reports stating the dogs had been examined.
Della Despres of Shediac, N.B., purchased her Yorkshire terrier for $550 last Saturday at 5:30 p.m. It died two days later.
Her husband, who picked the puppy up in a parking lot in Elmsdale, noticed it was lethargic but thought it was just car sick. It vomited a few times during the drive home. It wouldn’t eat and had diarrhea throughout the night.
“When I got up in the morning, she was going downhill, so I took her to the veterinarian and they put her on IV fluids.” That was Sunday and the dog died the next evening.
“It was so sad to see,” Ms. Despres said.
Sandy Reed of Lantz, Hants County, got her Pomeranian puppy in an Elmsdale parking lot for $650 last Monday.
Ms. Reed asked about the puppy’s condition, in particular that its head seemed to be flopping around. She said Ms. Benoit told her the dog was car sick and that she had to give it something for motion sickness.
“When we got home, it wouldn’t use the bathroom, it wouldn’t eat.” The dog died the next day.
“I’m really upset, I’m still upset,” said Ms. Reed who has shed more than a few tears this week. “I’m hurt.”
Another owner from Halifax, who did not want to be named, bought a Pomeranian for $500 at 3 p.m. July 18 in an Elmsdale parking lot. It was dead by 10 a.m. the next morning.
She had planned to take the dog to the veterinarian, and was holding it on her chest when it started convulsing, foaming at the mouth and shaking all over.
“Oh, the dear little thing.”
Mr. Joyce said the SPCA can’t comment much on the status of the investigation, but said the complaints are being taken very seriously.
Owners of the other two puppies live in Halifax and Yarmouth.
Ms. Benoit and her common-law spouse Dana Bailey are facing animal cruelty charges related to the SPCA seizing 10 pups over two days from their Roxville home last fall. That case is still before the courts.
Ms. Smith wants to hear from other people who have purchased sick and dying puppies. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org