The owner of Playful Paws Pet Centre says he’s accepting responsibility for the deaths of 14 dogs at the kennel in September 2016.
Dave Deplaedt, 50, pleaded guilty Tuesday on behalf of his business for negligence under the Animal Protection Act.
The kennel is being fined $14,000, but a victim surcharge of $5,600 brings the total cost to $19,600.
The punishment was accepted by a provincial court judge Tuesday after a joint submission from both the Crown and defence. Deplaedt addressed the families directly in court.
“I don’t expect forgiveness,” he said. “I am sincerely sorry … we failed you in the most unimaginable of ways.”
The Crown agreed to adjust the charges to be against the kennel business entity, rather than Deplaedt himself.
Deplaedt’s defence lawyer Scott Spencer told court his client didn’t have much involvement in the kennel’s day-to-day operations, trusting his “caring staff” to do the job.
The apology rang hollow for Dawn Loessin, who lost her dog Linc in the incident.
“It meant absolutely nothing,” she said, noting Deplaedt didn’t contact them after the deaths in September. “If it would’ve happened before, it would’ve felt a lot more heartfelt.”
Loessin and other owners sat wiping tears away as Crown Attorney Robin Ritter described the conditions that led to the 14 dogs’ deaths.
He said the ambient temperature in the room when the dogs were found was 37 C, despite two oscillating fans being on.
The thermostat had been set to 30 C, with the “heat” option selected on the manual device.
Ritter read out text messages between staff members on the night of Sept. 9, where an employee told their supervisor the room was too hot and there was no room for the dogs in a cooler area.
She was told to put the fans on, and left for the night after not being instructed to stay.
The dogs died overnight of hyperthermia — essentially stroke and dehydration — with no access to water due to “procedure” intended to prevent overnight urination.
“If it was too hot, why didn’t they call us?” Loessin asked. “We would’ve had somebody come and get our dog.”
The Crown also told the court heating problems had been ongoing since February 2011, when the thermostat was re-wired improperly.
Ritter said interviews with staff indicated the dogs were routinely moved downstairs, and employees were told not to spend more than five minutes in the room.
Staff also told officials management was made aware of the problem repeatedly.
Outside the courthouse, Deplaedt accepted responsibility for not fixing the issue.
“We had the opportunity to identify a problem, to resolve that problem and ultimately protect the animals that were in our care,” he told reporters. “We didn’t do that.”
There was also an indication from Deplaedt and Spencer of individual payments to the dog owners.
Loessin couldn’t disclose how much her family received due to an agreement, but said it doesn’t fix what happened.
“I’d give every penny back to have Linc back,” she said.