Animal cruelty trial A former employee of the Mi Loup

Animal cruelty trial: A former employee of the Mi-Loup expedition is traumatized after his time in the kennel

A former employee of the Expedition Mi-Loup kennel was so traumatized by his experience that he had nightmares for two years, he testified Friday in his former supervisors' animal cruelty trial.

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• Also read: Alleged animal cruelty at Expedition Mi-Loup: “We killed more than 1,000” puppies in four years, claims a former employee

• Also read: Mi Loup Expedition: Dozens of puppies were frozen and other dogs “gassed,” according to a former guide.

Matthieu Lambert was a sleigh guide from 2018 to 2020 and then assistant to the chief guide at the Île d'Orléans kennel. He is the sixth former employee to be called to the witness stand by prosecutors this week.

The 41-year-old recalled a particularly difficult day when he allegedly helped run the “list.”

There were sick, fighting or even “ugly” dogs there, he testified. “Dogs that don’t necessarily make a nice postcard,” he illustrates.

According to his report there were 13.

In tears

“I participated by taking the dogs to their execution site and putting the bodies in the freezer,” he explained, adding that he “wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

According to him, the dogs were shot in the barn by Antoine Simard, one of the co-defendants. When he went out during this act, he did not see it directly and only heard “bangs.”

“Anyway, I didn't want to stay there crying like I was. It took at least two years before I was able to sleep like the rest of the world and stop having nightmares,” he said.

His time with the company began in an equally disturbing way in 2018. At that time there was a surge in births and, according to him, there were almost forty new puppies.

“When I started the season and was still on the Walt Disney trip, it was super cool, there were a lot of puppies. We could have fun with them,” he says.

“When I came back on Monday there were only two or three left.”

“At the shelter”

Coworkers reportedly told him “that the puppies were going to the shelter,” which he found suspicious.

“In the days that followed, I understood what the famous sanctuary was. It was the cute little nickname of the freezer that was in the barn where he supposedly found the animals.

He estimates that between 500 and 1,500 puppies went through the freezer during his time at work.

He says he later questioned his superiors about the practice and suggested solutions, such as converting the stable into a nursery and adopting the animals.

“There was always a kind of blanket refusal to change,” he says.

Pools of blood

According to him, it also happened that employees were absent and there were fewer dogs present when they returned.

“There were fewer dogs, there were also pools of blood within the circles,” he claimed, of the dog-accessible area.

Under cross-examination, Mr Lambert had to defend the fact that he had taken part in media reports to denounce the situation. He was also once reprimanded by the judge for his language.

Solder gas

In the afternoon, another former employee, Alexandre Savard, recounted an event that occurred in 2020 after a report about mistreatment at Expédition Mi-Loup was broadcast in the media.

He said he went to the garage to get a snowmobile and found Édouard Parent, a former employee and co-defendant in the case.

The “very upset” parent allegedly referred to canisters in the room and said it was “soldering gas” and that “the dogs were used to gas it” before putting them in a van.

He would have specified: “It was I who Antoine asked for it,” again according to this witness.

Under cross-examination, Mr Savard made it clear that he did not know whether Parent was aware of the report and did not remember whether he mentioned it.

He added that it was very rare to see Parent around dogs.

The trial against Antoine Simard and Élisabeth Leclerc, former managers of the kennel, and their then employee Édouard Parent lasts until next Friday.

What we remember from the first week of the trial

Hundreds of dogs killed?

Former employees who took the witness stand recounted how and why dogs were allegedly killed. The lack of birth control would largely explain this situation. A former chief handler, Mathieu Lévesque, dropped a small bombshell when he estimated that in the four years he spent with Mi-Loup, nearly a thousand dogs lost their lives, mostly puppies but also animals. They died from illness, lack of treatment or poor diet, he said. A “list” of 10 to 15 adult dogs per year would also have been created, with animals deemed weaker being condemned.

Violence and gruesome deaths

The methods of killing dogs varied depending on the era. A previous guide claims that from 2013 to 2016, surplus puppies were placed in a freezer to end their lives. He goes on to say that violence was taught to force dogs to obey. At the start of the trial, another witness, Louis-Donald Gaudet, reiterated that dogs were hanged in a barn in the late 2000s. At other times it would have been a box connected to a gas cylinder or even a firearm.

The defendant

Antoine Simard, Élisabeth Leclerc and Édouard Parent are accused of killing animals without legitimate excuse, causing them unnecessary suffering and failing to provide them with water, food, shelter and appropriate and sufficient care between 2008 and 2022. They all plead not guilty. According to previous statements, Simard oversaw the company's operations while Leclerc primarily handled administrative tasks. The parent was described as a handyman who was responsible for snowmobiling and running an inn.

Sensitive topic

At the start of the trial, Judge Hubert Couture warned that he would not tolerate “any outpouring, intervention or demonstration of any kind” under penalty of expulsion, and said he was fully aware that “-being” could be included in the file sensitive aspects”. On Friday, a defense attorney expressed concern about members of the public staring at defendants or court officials. “The situation regarding these two individuals will be resolved pending the full conclusion of the proceedings,” Judge Couture said simply. Two activists who attended the trial were not later seen in the hall, but the exact reasons for their departure were not given.

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