In short, did the SPCALL fail to uphold the law?
On Friday August 5, 2011 at approximately 9:00 pm, I received a phone call followed by an e-mail asking me to help locate 29 Huskies in Lachute, tied to trees in the woods, as dog rescuer groups on-line were trying to help, with the help of a rescue organization in Ontario called Canine-Feline Rescue.
At or around 12:00 am on the 6th, I located the dogs tied to trees in Lachute (video recording of dogs barking in the dark) and actually confirmed there might be more than 29, and they were extremely thin, no shelter was available to any of them, there were no signs of food nor water in sight. At or around 12:30 am, I confirmed that the dogs had been located to ****** who had organized the transport/rescue for these dogs (after an ad had been placed on the internet by the owner of the adjacent property asking for these dogs to be taken or they would end up at the Berger Blanc by that following Monday).
On Saturday August 6th, at approximately 12:00 noon, I directed the “organizers” to the location, and upon seeing these dogs, everyone was appalled and couldn’t wait to see them get rescued. We then waited for the Ontario rescue group to arrive with their transport, and unfortunately it turned into a fiasco, as the “rescue group” was just a fraud and no one was coming to help these dogs.
With the help of another Montreal rescue group who had come to help with transport if needed, it was decided that we could not close our eyes to this situation and re-grouped to find other rescues to help take these dogs in.
At approximately 3:00 pm, Mr. Daniel Charbonneau (the owner of the dogs) comes to the site (with no food nor water in sight), and decides he no longer wants “rescue” groups to take in his dogs, he wants people to come on the site to “adopt” these dogs (who are obviously not yet adoptable in their state/condition). Some discussions are undertaken, the SQ is called in to help resolve the situation (Sgt. Fillion is among the officers), and Mr. Charbonneau decides, after speaking to the SPCA/MAPAQ personnel in the file, to surrender some dogs to the rescue groups on site.
The owner of the property that Mr. Charbonneau was evicted from (next door to the wooded area where the 37 dogs were tied), had arrived within minutes of Mr. Charbonneau and mentioned to the SQ officers that the City had been advised, that the SPCA was aware, that he had another 50 dogs elsewhere, that he was squatting on “city land” and that the owner of the wooded area where these dogs were tied, had complained on several occasions. At this point, Mr. Charbonneau said that the SPCA and MAPAQ were in the file, and that they had “told” the owner she had to accept these dogs on her property until the case was “resolved”…. I did think that very weird, wanted the SQ officer to locate and reach the owner of the lot, but Sgt. Fillion claims that was impossible….
At approximately 7:00 pm, we leave with 10 dogs that Mr. Charbonneau surrendered and the agreement is to return the next day to take more in, as we had no “plan” yet as to where to put more of these Huskies if we took more in. The SPCA would then take whatever dogs were left on Monday morning.
At approximately 9:30 pm, CTV covers the story on-line
On Sunday August 7th, at or around 12:00 noon, CTV shows up on follow-up on the story, no one has yet arrived and they are turned away by Mr. Charbonneau. The “group” arrives at approximately 1:00 pm and plans are made to take in the dogs. We load 15 dogs into several cars, and as we are leaving the property, the SQ pulls me over, asks me what I am doing, I explain I am taking more of the dogs as agreed yesterday, and I am told to have a nice day and leave. We all meet up at the local McDonald’s in order to see which dogs are going where, and 2 SQ cars show up, at which time we are told by Sgt. Fillion that Mr. Charbonneau has changed his mind, that he does not want us to take the dogs and we must return them to the trees in the woods. I insist on speaking to Corinne Gonzalez of the SPCA Laurentides/Labelle, who was in charge of the file for the last several weeks/months, and after much effort to negotiate with her to bring these dogs into the SPCA right away in order for them to be safe, fed and sheltered, she assured me that they had a “file” and a “plan” to seize the dogs that next day, Monday August 7th, therefore insisting we return these dogs to their original locations, with no food, no water and no shelter (it had rained quite heavily that day).
Under the threat of being arrested, at approximately 10:30 pm, we all complied, drove back to the location to tie the dogs back up to their chains, and were let go.
Monday August 8th, 2011, CBC covers the story, showing the SPCA getting involved, at which time the SPCA declares they were “just informed” of this situation, but did not “seize” the dogs, instead, they made a deal with the owner to “surrender” the dogs to the SPCA in exchange for no charges being laid against him. In that same news report, Corinne Gonzales is clearly heard saying they had just “discovered” a new location with as many as possibly 50 other dogs, also in bad shape, that will need to be “investigated” and the dogs may need to be seized. It is also mentioned that Mr. Charbonneau is squatting with the dogs, his wife and kids.
On Monday August 8th 2011, at approximately 10:00 pm, we heard that following the Media and SPCA visit, Mr. Charbonneau had “left” the land he was squatting on. I also got confirmation from people who had been following the story, that there was in fact 2 kids living with them. At approximately 11:00 pm, I contacted Youth Protection to make them aware of the children living in this situation.
On Tuesday August 9th, 2011, I went to the Montreal SPCA to see if and how they could get involved. I was told they could not get involved as it was in the SPCA Laurentides/Labelle jurisdiction. I inquired to see if Humane Society International (HIS) could get involved, at which point I was told they could only get involved if the SPCA asks for their help….
On Wednesday August 10th, I received a call from Alana Devine of the Montreal SPCA, who assured me that she spoke to Corinne Gonzales of SPCA Laurentides/Labelle, who confirmed they very much had an open file, were following up and would be taking action. I was told that they had been “checking” on him daily, the dogs were fed and all was “under control”. However, I knew at this point Mr. Charbonneau was no longer on the site where the SPCA had “checked” on the dogs.
On the 10th, I received a phone call from Youth Protection telling me they went to the location and could not locate Mr. Charbonneau. I informed them the SQ knew exactly which lot he was on, and they could get the information from them. I tried to find the lot number from the SQ at that time, and spoke to Sgt. Filion who told me I had no more business in this story, that he had no reason to give Youth Protection any information, warned me to “stay out of this” as I didn’t know who I was dealing with.
On Friday August 12th, my “source” tells me that Mr. Charbonneau is broke, wants to borrow money as his dogs have not eaten in at least 2-4 days., at this point he was losing his mind, his wife said she would rather kill herself and all the dogs then let the SPCA take their “investment”. The oldest kid was old enough to be on his own, the youngest could go live with his grandma…
On Saturday August 13th, at approximately 1:00 am, we confirm that he no longer is on the site CBC/SPCA knew of. We could hear the dogs, but could not locate their new site.
On Saturday August 13th, at approximately 10:00 am, we drove to SPCA Laurentides/Labelle (Ste-Agathe) to see what their next step was as it was obvious nothing had yet been done. Couldn’t speak to anyone, so drove down to St-Jerome where the “seized/surrendered” huskies were temporary housed.
Upon arrival at approximately 11:00 am, I spoke to Elizabeth Pierce, employee of the SPCA Laurentides/Labelle, who tells me they cannot do anything…. A file is open, they’re investigating. I, along with my source, confirm to her that the dogs have no food (it’s now been anywhere from 3-5 days), that the wife has threatened to kill all the dogs rather than let the SPCA take them, and try to see what exactly they are waiting for in order to act on the P-42 by-law. She tells me it’s the MAPAQ…. They are the ones in charge, and are also investigating. I insist that they have to act on the very weak laws (P-42) as the dogs have no food, water nor shelter… She then tells me that if I can “re-locate” them, get visual confirmation that there are still approximately 30 dogs on site, that there is no food/water visible and still no shelters, and that if these people “sign” an official complaint, the they would have to act immediately. She tells me I would not be “credible” as I am directly involved, so it must be someone else. 4 volunteers there at the moment, decide to do this as they are appalled at the conditions of the Huskies, and certainly want to help these other dogs.
We drive back to Lachute, and at approximately 1:00 pm, we locate Mr. Charbonneau and his pack of dogs, on another City lot in the same general area of the Lachute City Dump. We come back with visual and video confirmation, hoping to get the inspector to act immediately, and I am told by Mrs. Pierce, “this information will be given to Corine Gonzales on Monday morning, for the MAPAQ to open a file”……
On Sunday August 14th, I contact Youth Protection in order to update them on the location of Mr. Charbonneau and his family.
On Monday August 15th, I contact MAPAQ and speak to Mme Hebert, trying to see why no one has acted on this file yet, why dogs have to suffer with no food, water nor shelter, when they are the ones who wrote the law, and can enforce them. She tells me they have no power, that they need a “warrant” to seize dogs, I tell her they have the power to seize the dogs for 90 days, while they “study” their case and if need be, the dogs would be returned to Mr. Charbonneau. At least they would be sheltered, fed and given water to, but she does not agree and hangs up on me.
On Tuesday August 16th, 2011, Corine Gonzales declares publicly that this case is not one of animal cruelty, but one of neglect, as according to the MAPAQ veterinary report, these dogs have been malnourished and are too thin.
At approximately 12:00 noon, a group of us decide to go looking into the woods to see if dogs have been left behind every time Mr. Charbonneau moves location, and/or to see if we find any of the dogs that have been reported through different sources, to have died…. 8 people, within 5 vehicles, meet at the local Church parking lot to organize a search through the wooded area of the City Dump, in order to locate dogs if any are there. At this point, we were unsure of whether these lots were located within Lachute or Mirabel city limits, who they officially belonged to, and wanted to see if Mirabel would uphold their municipal By-Law concerning dog control as well as to see the City cadastre map in order to locate exactly in which City the lot Mr. Charbonneau was squatting on, belonged to.
At approximately 1:15 pm, upon turning on Sources Road, off Charles Renaud road, Mr. Charbonneau happened to be at that very stop sign, heading in the opposite way. He looked directly at me, then in a rage, cut off the second car after me, almost sending the 3rd one off the road, and went after us. Feeling a little scared, I contacted all the cars behind me and told them not to stop anywhere, that the “white van” following me/us was in fact Mr. Charbonneau and his wife. Not sure of what to do (I have a broken front driver window), we thought of driving into the Dump property to get help, but having no “visible” personnel, we continued driving towards the nearest police station (which happened to be Mirabel). Mr. Charbonneau continued to follow us, at one point on a long stretch, he cut off the cars behind me and got right on my bumper. I speeded up to 115km/h (on an 80km road), hoping for an SQ officer, having to go through stop signs by fear of him catching up. At 1:27 pm, I pulled out my cell and called 911, at which point he passed me and applied the breaks (tape can probably reveal my fear at that point)….. He then drove off, up the hill a ways, waited while I was still on the phone with 911, once he “disappeared”, I drove myself and the other cars directly to the Mirabel police station where a report was made. I was told it would be “wreckless driving”, and nothing much would happen, however I explained my whole situation to the officer at the time, who explained a little about the costs associated with “seizing” dogs, and how the “Chow-Chow man” had never been stopped because of financial reasons……
We then left and proceeded to City Hall in Mirabel, checked the cadastre lots, tried to locate the “owner” of the lot to see if it was public or private land, they told us it was in fact Lachute. Not sure of where to turn to at this point, we decided to return to Sources road to look for dogs as originally planned, and not to let this high-speed chase intimidate us. We also knew at this point that SQ was in fact acting as local police, and that if no one else, they had the power to enforce municipal By-Laws (dog control). After searching the woods and finding no dogs nearby, ****** (who had a talking relationship with Mr. Charbonneau) and another lady from the group, decided to go bring him a large bag of dog food and gallons of water, as well as try to talk to him about this situation.
Upon their leaving the site, we all met at the McDonald’s in Lachute, where she relayed that Mr. Charbonneau had made direct threats, saying “si Sophie se presente sur mon terrain, je vais la tirer/tuer et ca ne sera pas un meurtre car je protege mon terrain, et la SQ sont mes amis”. The other people and myself all looked at each other and said “so he does have guns”…..At which point ***** was a little “scared”, as she had not heard about him having guns.
I proceeded to the SQ office to press charges for these death threats, and to have them investigate the high-speed pursuit of earlier that day. I met Agent Lafleur, who took our 3 statements, told us if we agreed to go to court and testify, they could act right away. I did at this point fear for my safety, thinking that even though he may not pull a gun and shoot me, he could easily hurt me with one of the chains he uses for his dogs if he was to spot me in town, track me down, follow me and corner me……I told them I could totally see him vandalizing my car, flinging one of those heavy chains at my head and wanted to see some “conditions” given to him. I also wanted Mr. Charbonneau to know that this was not going to intimidate me into letting these dogs die at the end of their chains, which is why I was in fact pressing charges. He had previously made allegations to the fact the SQ were his friends, that he had everyone’s license plate number, and that he would have us arrested if we came back to Lachute. ******* was very nervous, and Agent Lafleur confirmed that he could do no such thing, that we had every right to be in Lachute.
Later on that night, after discussing the day with others, we were informed that Youth Protection and Anima-Quebec (MAPAQ) had been there earlier that day, both had given certain recommendations, both had an “open file” and I figured that was what had angered him when he saw me in town.
On or around Friday the 19th, I contacted the Dog Control service for Lachute, Alexandre Roy, told him of the situation and asked him if he would enforce the municipal by-laws since at this point no one else seemed to want to enforce any laws to help these poor dogs. He told me he had no power to do anything, that he in fact had ticketed Mr. Charbonneau and had ordered him to be gone by Monday the 22nd. As per the By-Law, Mr. Roy has the power not only to ticket Mr. Charbonneau for non-compliance of the By-Laws, but the right to seize dogs who commit a “nuisance” on public property. Equally, the SQ has that same power, as they act as local police for the City of Lachute, and therefore can enforce municipal By-Laws as well.
On Monday August 22nd, we went to Lachute City Hall to get the dog control by-law (96-490) and were refused a copy, as well as the possibility to “consult” it. I was told I needed to fill out a request, that it would be sent to me by mail…. I then asked to consult the cadastre map, again I was turned down, claiming I needed an appointment with the Urbanist… I thought that very odd, as I just need the map to locate the lot myself, after a bit of insisting they get me an appointment that day, that I would remain in Lachute and wait, they got me an “assistant” who opened up her computer and found me the lot in question. Her answers as to who the lot belonged to was very vague, claiming she had no clue who la Regie Inter-Municipale was, who ran the dump, and so on… I asked for a copy of that cadastre plan, wanting to then locate the “owners” to see if in fact Mr. Charbonneau had permission to squat there with his family and 50 dogs, unfortunately the server was down, a copy could not be printed, a copy could not be sent to me via e-mail, I was given a pad and a pen to write down the lot numbers….. We confirmed once again their location was unchanged from the last time, and headed home.
On Tuesday August 23rd, CBC contacts me and does a follow-up story with the SPCA Laurentides/Labelle as well as with me, asking if I thought that the SPCA had done everything in their power at this point to help the Huskies as well as the other remaining dogs. I told them I felt that the MAPAQ as well as the SPCA Laurentides/Labelle, had certainly been trying to wash their hands of this situation, and were just dragging on in hopes that Mr. Charbonneau would disappear and they could close their file, claiming they had “lost track of him”…..
On or around the 23rd , we decided to organize a sort of peaceful demonstration, by organizing a “free camping week-end” in Lachute, on these lots the following week-end. Equality of the law we call it, if this family can live for free on City land, why can’t everyone” This was a way to get the City to move on this issue.
On Wednesday August 24th, I contacted RCI to try and find out who was in charge of these lots that Mr. Charbonneau was squatting on, I was given the name of Pierre Gionet, but did not have the chance to contact him. He is with the Regie Inter Municipale, the owners of the lots in question. It seems these lots are in fact owned by 4 municipalities who make up this Regie…..
Later on that day, we found video footage of a City Council meeting that seemed to expose some “not so clean” stuff going on within city administration, so decided we may have an “ally” with City Councillor Louis Seize who didn’t seem to totally agree with her administration on the way things were being handled. I also noticed that Mr. Pierre Gionet (who I was supposed to contact about this situation on their lots), was in fact the Director of the City of Lachute…. I was kind of happy I had not contacted him.
I decided to try and communicate with Mrs. Louis-Seize, she returned my phone call and I exposed this situation. She had not even heard of this guy and his dogs, squatting on City property, who had made the news….I informed her of my displeasure with the whole situation and how these dogs needed help, and at this point my only hope was with the City since SPCA and MAPAQ didn’t seem to really care…..I told her I was planning a “camping trip” on their property this coming week-end, at which time she informed me she would look into this and get back to me.
On Friday August 26th, at approximately noon Mrs. Louis Seize called me, told me she had contacted people at City Hall, and that Mr. Charbonneau had in fact been “evicted” from this lot, that cement blocks had been put on the lot to avoid him from returning, that he had left the City limits, and they did not know where he was relocated, but affirmed it was not on City land within Lachute. She then passed me the City Director, Mr. Gionet, who also confirmed this information.
At or around 4:00 pm, I arrived in Lachute, went to get gas on Bethany, went to the McDonalds on Bethany, and on my way out towards the “lot” to verify that in fact it had been blocked off by the City, I spotted Mr. Charbonneau’s truck/trailer in the parking lot of the WalMart (on Bethany street).
At or around 4:30 pm, I confirmed that the lot had been blocked off by the City and that Mr. Charbonneau was no longer “squatting” on it.
I then went back to Lachute in order to go to the SQ office (on Bethany) to follow-up on the death threat charges for which Mr. Charbonneau did not seem to have been “arrested” yet, and to ensure that they would follow up on it regardless of the fact he was no longer “squatting” where they knew.
As well, I wanted to inform them that despite their telling me they cannot enforce municipal by-laws (dog control by-law), the Police Act in fact does give them the power to uphold and respect municipal by-laws for Lachute, as they are mandated to be “local police service”.
At or around 5:00 pm, upon driving towards the SQ office, Mr. Charbonneau’s truck came out of the Wal-Mart parking lot directly in front of me at that exact time, he then gave me the “finger”, and drove himself to the SQ office, which I thought was “curious” and decided to wait in the Gas station next door to see what would happen, then I would go in to find out where the “case” was.
At that point, Mr. Charbonneau came out of his truck, waited to have someone open the door (as they are closed), eventually an officer came out to the gas station to ask what I was doing. I informed him, at which time he replied that was fine, Mr. Charbonneau “lost it” on me and was very unhappy about the fact the officer was not “arresting” me.
I was told “have a nice day”, the officer went back inside, Mr. Charbonneau waited a few more minutes in his truck, came back out, rang the bell, went inside, and within less than 5 minutes, Sgt. Fillion was coming to the gas station telling me I was under arrest.
I followed the sergeant in, Mr. Charbonneau left and gave my son the “finger” as he drove away. I was then arrested, and prohibited from returning within the City of Lachute limits. I was also told that if I did not sign a promise to appear, as well as agree to respect these “conditions”, I would be detained until Monday due to the week-end.
All these facts can be confirmed by video and audio recordings within my possession, as well as gas receipt, and times can be verified via the Facebook postings of my every move.
I feel that under section 16 of the Private Security Act, I have investigated the facts of this situation and brought it repeatedly to the attention of the SPCALL/MAPAQ, and as a result of their inaction, I am now suffering the consequences of Mr. Charbonneau’s accusations of “criminal harrassment” as I have only been trying to get the appropriate authorities to act on this very serious situation. There has never been any ill intent towards Mr. Charbonneau or his family, the only goal is to help the dogs in need through the legal methods available to me.
Considering all the events resulting from the lack of enforcing the laws applicable in this case, the SPCALL failed to discharge a legal duty resulting as a common nuisance to the public’s enjoyment, safety, health as well as putting my safety at risk, as per section 180 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Common nuisance 180. (1) Every one who commits a common nuisance and thereby (a) endangers the lives, safety or health of the public, or (b) causes physical injury to any person, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years. Definition (2) For the purposes of this section, every one commits a common nuisance who does an unlawful act or fails to discharge a legal duty and thereby (a) endangers the lives, safety, health, property or comfort of the public; or (b) obstructs the public in the exercise or enjoyment of any right that is common to all the subjects of Her Majesty in Canada. R.S., c. C-34, s. 176.