Dogs “hanging out” at Expedition Mi-Loop, former employee says

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Plastic barrels serve as shelter for dogs during winter.

Expedition Mi-Loup, a company based in Saint-Jean-de-l’Île-d’Orléans specializing in sled dog rides, has ceased its activities today. Animal cruelty charges were filed in February 2023 regarding the involvement of three people with dogs at the kennel.

Antoine Simard, Elisabeth Leclerc and Edouard Parent are accused of killing without excuse, causing unnecessary suffering and failing to provide water and food to more than a hundred dogs over almost 15 years.

His trial began Monday at a Quebec courthouse. Simard and Leclerc are a couple and were business owners at the time of the alleged incidents, while the parents had worked for the kennel for approximately fifteen years.

At the beginning of the trial, prosecutor Anne Bastarache presented a broad outline of the evidence she intended to present.

“Due to the absence of effective measures to (regulate) births, puppies were almost systematically killed in Mi-Loop,” the prosecutor says.

Dogs that were too old and less efficient were also killed by “firearms, freezing, hanging, and the use of homemade gas chambers”.

Me Bastarache plans to demonstrate that the dogs suffered multiple acts of violence while under the care of the co-defendants. Infested dogs typically do not benefit from veterinary care.

Along with the Sûreté du Québec investigator in the case, eight former employees, two inspectors from Quebec’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) and a veterinarian will also be heard during the trial.

Investigation

In April 2022, the Sûreté du Québec seized four boxes of documents containing employee salary statements and bank account statements. The investigator observed the absence of invoices for veterinary care, apart from three invoices for the euthanasia of three or four dogs.

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Nearly ten invoices for the purchase of “Fox supplements” between 2015 and 2019 were found. There were no foxes at the company’s facilities, the investigator said.

Execute

A former employee heard for the first time during the trial on Monday. Louis-Donald Gaudet worked for Expedition Mi-Loup for three years between 2007 and 2009. He already had two years of experience with a kennel. The company cared for approximately 170 dogs when he was hired.

“I was surprised because they didn’t provide soup. Dogs must drink. I was told the dogs ate the snow and it was OK,” Mr. Gaudet testified.

He was also surprised by the small amount of food given to the dogs at the end of a day’s work. “They gave garbage bags with the butcher’s remains, bones, legs and a little meat. In my opinion, feeding the dogs was not enough,” says the former employee.

Mr. Gaudet also says the dogs can accompany clients on four to five walks per day. He estimates that sled dogs take an average of three walks per day. He often saw the dogs “tired” and “forced” back into the snow.

According to the testimony of a former employee, about ten dogs were killed by hanging when he worked at the kennel.

“At the end of a season, we often had dogs that didn’t pull, that we couldn’t sell or give away because they were less pretty or too old. (Antoine Simard) wanted to eliminate them.

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Mr Gaudet explains that it was necessary to disguise the dogs’ deaths as “natural deaths”. “A gentleman who was wandering around the Île-d’Orléans, collecting carcasses of animals. They only picked up animals that died of natural causes, dogs could not be killed by gunfire.”

According to the prosecution witness, Antoine Simard and another employee organized the hanging of the dogs in a barn. Simard tied a rope around the dogs’ necks and threw them from the second floor.

“It didn’t always work, the dog had to struggle. It wasn’t always effective. He found himself dragging his back legs to strangle more quickly,” says Mr. Gaudet.

She remembers that accused Simard and his employee were “laughing” when the dogs were being hung. He says he was uncomfortable with this technique.

Bad words

Under cross-examination, the former employee indicated he would like to see a CTV report on the company in 2022. Activists illegally entered kennel establishments and discovered several dead puppies in freezers.

Mr Gaudet then resumed contact with former employees, then expressed his interest in participating in the police investigation.

In defence, Stephanie Pelletier-Quirion reminded the witness that she had left the company on bad terms in 2009. He reunited with owner Antoine Simard for a new job in 2011, but without success.

The witness also admitted that he had not thought about condemning acts of violence against animals before watching the CTV report on the kennel.

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“Gassy” Puppies

Hans Peladeau-Bisiger worked for Antoine Simard for two seasons between 2010 and 2011 as a sled dog guide.

One morning, when he arrived at the kennel, he saw that a dog had given birth to five puppies during the night. He is pleased and warns the other employees. He has to leave the shelter quickly to go for a walk with clients.

“I found the puppies in a bucket where they had been gassed with CO2 (carbon dioxide).”

He immediately talks to his employer about this. “He just told me that the puppies were co-breed and he couldn’t keep them. The parents were brother and sister.”

Mr. Peladeau-Bissiger understood from the conversation that at least two puppies had been killed by car gas that season. According to him, Edouard Parent was in charge of killing the puppies in his workshop.

Antoine Simard asked to return to work quickly after the dog gave birth, due to the high number of reservations.

“She returned to running during the week. Usually we wait for a month after giving birth, on average it is 10 weeks,” the former employee testified.

Six other former employees will be heard as witnesses in the coming days. The trial of the three accused of animal cruelty is expected to last two weeks.

M Pelletier-Quirion represents the accused Simard and Leclerc. The parents, for their part, retained the services of M. Gabriel Michaud-Brier.

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