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The Former Owner of the Saint-Édouard Zoo Found Guilty

Press release – For immediate release

Trois-Rivières, November 10, 2021 – Normand Trahan, the former owner of the Saint-Édouard Zoo, pleaded guilty to four animal welfare offences this morning at the Trois-Rivières courthouse, following an investigation by Montreal SPCA animal protection officers. The charges relate to all of the animals seized at the Saint-Édouard Zoo in 2019 as part of a historic operation conducted by the Montreal SPCA. In total, more than 200 animals were removed from the premises, including lions, tigers, zebras, bears, wolves, kangaroos and primates.

Normand Trahan will have to pay nearly $7,000 in fines. He is also prohibited from owning animals for a period of five years, with the exception of domestic animals kept for non-commercial purposes at his residence. The seized animals have been permanently placed in new, qualified facilities where they are receiving all the specialized care they require.

“The offences to which Mr. Trahan pleaded guilty relate to the conditions in which the animals were kept at the Saint-Édouard Zoo, including inadequate and unsanitary facilities, as well as lack of veterinary care for injured or ill animals,” said Chantal Cayer, Director of the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations Division. “The Montreal SPCA’s Investigations Division is satisfied to have obtained an admission of guilt in this case.”

It was in response to a report of abuse lodged by visitors to the Saint-Édouard Zoo that animal protection officers from the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations Division first opened a criminal investigation in August 2018. Over the following months, they conducted an investigation during which they obtained various court orders allowing them to collect evidence in accordance with the law. The investigation was subsequently submitted to the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales who, after a thorough review of the case, authorized the filing of criminal charges against Mr. Trahan. In May 2019, officers from the SPCA’s Investigations Division obtained a search warrant allowing them to return to the premises and seize the zoo’s animals. Given the magnitude and complexity of the operation, it took place over a period of several weeks. Despite an attempt to block the seizure of the animals through a court challenge shortly after the execution of the search warrant began, the evacuation of the animals was able to resume after the court ruled in favour of the SPCA’s Investigations Division. In total, over 200 animals were relocated under close veterinary supervision.

“Across Canada, animal protection charities like the Montreal SPCA are responsible for enforcing animal welfare laws. The result obtained in court today shows how essential this work is,” said Élise Desaulniers, Executive Director of the Montreal SPCA. “The Montreal SPCA’s primary concern in this matter is, and always has been, to protect the Saint-Édouard Zoo’s animals and ensure their welfare, which we have accomplished.  We are pleased and relieved that we were able to obtain ownership of all the animals seized and that they are now permanently placed in new, qualified facilities where they receive all the specialized care they need.”

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Source: Montréal SPCA

Media contact: 
Anita Kapuscinska, Senior Consultant, Corporate Development and Media Relations, Montréal SPCA, 514-359-5198, anitak@spca.com

Annexes

  1. Offences to which Normand Trahan pleaded guilty
  2. About the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations Division

Annexe 1: Offences to which Normand Trahan pleaded guilty

Regulation respecting animals in captivity (c. C-61.1, r. 5.1)

29. Every animal must be kept in an animal keeping facility that offers living conditions compatible with the biological requirements of its species.


32.
 Animal keeping facilities where an animal is kept and the building where the facilities are located must always be kept in a good state of cleanliness.

They must be cleaned regularly and be laid out so that

(1)  the facilities do not receive excrements, urine or food remnants from another animal keeping facility;

(2)  the animal may avoid direct contact with its excrements and those of the other animals;

(3)  food waste, excrements or urine do not accumulate in large quantities;

(4)  liquids on the soil of buildings drain rapidly so that the soil remains dry.


46.
 Every animal must receive the health care required when injured or sick.

Animal Welfare and Safety Act (RLRQ, c. B-3.1)

5. The owner or custodian of an animal must ensure that the animal’s welfare and safety are not compromised. An animal’s welfare or safety is presumed to be compromised if the animal does not receive care that is consistent with its biological needs. Such care includes but is not limited to ensuring that the animal

(1)  has access to drinking water and food of acceptable quality in sufficient quantity;

(2)  is kept in a suitable place that is sanitary and clean with sufficient space and lighting and the layout or use of whose facilities are not likely to affect the animal’s welfare or safety;

(3)  is allowed an opportunity for adequate exercise;

(4)  is provided with the necessary protection from excessive heat or cold and from bad weather;

(5)  is transported in a suitable manner in an appropriate vehicle;

(6)  is provided with the necessary care when injured, ill or suffering; and

(7)  is not subjected to abuse or mistreatment that may affect its health.

For the purposes of subparagraph 1 of the first paragraph, snow and ice are not water.

Annexe 2: About the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations Division

  • The animal protection officers of the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations Division are peace officers appointed by the minister de la Sécurité publique du Québec and subject to the Police Act. They are mandated to enforce the animal cruelty and neglect provisions of the Criminal Code, as well as provincial animal protection legislation, namely the Animal Welfare and Safety Act and the Regulation respecting the safety and welfare of cats and dogs.
  • The Investigations Division team consists of a director, two managers, two investigators, five officers and two dispatchers.
  • Each year, the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations Division receives thousands of complaints and reports. In 2020 alone, 1,245 new investigations were opened and over 2,613 animals of all species were the subject of investigations or inspections by our staff. A total of 188 animals were removed from custody and over a dozen convictions were obtained.

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