Prosecutors seek jail sentence for man in animal cruelty case
Crown prosecutors are seeking jail time in a brutal case of animal cruelty and hoarding in Manitoba.
Peter and Judy Chernecki pleaded guilty in April to seven counts under the Animal Care Act after 64 dogs were seized from their Gull Lake property in 2010.
During a sentencing hearing Tuesday morning, the Crown said it is seeking four months in jail for Peter Chernecki and tens of thousands of dollars in fines for both Peter and his wife.
"I think, given the facts of the case and the condition of the animals, it was an appropriate sentence to ask for,” said Shawn Sass, prosecutor.
A total of 34 of the 64 dogs had to be put down after they were seized.
Animal care officers found 59 of the dogs locked inside a 672-square-foot building with poor ventilation and inadequate food. The floor was covered in a paste of excrement and the smell of ammonia overwhelmed rescue workers when they first arrived at the site in 2010.
"I would describe this as the worst case of animal hoarding involving this number of animals that I've ever seen,” said Dr. Colleen Marion, provincial veterinarian.
“They were living in deplorable conditions and they were in extreme distress,” said Marion.
Bill McDonald of the Winnipeg Humane Society spoke about workers having to put down dozens of the dogs.
“That was a very sad task for both the provincial vets and our own humane society vets to do because these dogs really were in horrendous shape," he said.
The lawyer for Peter and Judy Chernecki said the couple loves animals and he argued against a jail sentence for Peter.
“Suggesting one of them go to jail is preposterous," said Jay Prober, defence lawyer.
He said they took in strays out of the kindness of their hearts.
"They took on too many dogs and things got out of hand. They're definitely not criminals. They tried their best,” said Prober. He wants probation for his clients.
Peter Chernecki told the court he slept with the dogs, at times, on a mattress.
The provincial vet said she doubts that.
"That was completely covered in feces and soaked wet with debris and excrement," said Colleen Marion.
The judge has adjourned a decision on sentencing. The couple will likely learn their fate in January 2014.
Court has also heard the couple currently has more than 40 cats.
- with a report from Jeff Keele