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Woman facing 44 charges of animal cruelty as RCMP say dead goats, starving animals found on farm

The RCMP say they've charged a Heatherton woman with 44 counts of causing unnecessary suffering to animals after several dead goats and malnourished animals were found on her property. (CBC/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The RCMP say they've charged a Heatherton woman with 44 counts of causing unnecessary suffering to animals after several dead goats and malnourished animals were found on her property. (CBC/Radio-Canada - image credit)

A 48-year-old woman from the western Newfoundland community of Heatherton is facing dozens of charges of causing unnecessary suffering to animals following a police investigation that began in 2022.

RCMP Cpl. Jolene Garland said officers first visited the farm on April 12, 2022, and found farm animals they believed were being neglected and subjected to cruel treatment.

"When police attended the property a number of goats were found deceased and a number of other animals appeared to be extremely malnourished and not properly cared for," Garland said. "Many of the animals lacked proper foot care, which among other negative impacts, certainly affected their ability to walk."

In cases that involve animal cruelty, police can charge a person under the Animal Health and Protection Act or the Criminal Code of Canada. The former is meant to deal with cases of animal cruelty outside the criminal court system, while the latter comes with stiffer penalties and a criminal record.

In this case, Garland said, the investigators felt the severity of the maltreatment was deserving of a criminal charges — 44 of them in total.

"It's definitely not usual. It's definitely not common," Garland said. "Seeing this amount of Criminal Code charges against one individual, it's definitely not normal."

The surviving animals were taken to the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture and were looked after by experts within the department's animal health-care division.

The woman is slated to make a court appearance in Stephenville's provincial court on Monday.

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