Rancher facing new puppy-mill allegations

Carol Haughton is a wanted woman.

An arrest warrant was issued this morning (Nov. 21) for the Knutsford rancher already facing multiple animal-cruelty charges in relation to an alleged puppy mill, this time alleging she's continuing to breed and sell dogs — a violation of her strict bail conditions.

Kamloops provincial court Judge Stella Frame issued the warrant at about 9:45 a.m., after hearing evidence from the Crown alleging Haughton was operating a puppy mill in her own name out of a neighbour's Knutsford home.

Crown prosecutor Chris Balison said a Richmond man travelled to Kamloops with a family member on Nov. 6 after learning about Great Dane puppies for sale on the online classified website Kijiji.

The man initially met with a woman named Donna Barker at her property on Shumway Lake, court heard.

Balison said the man described the condition of the property as filthy.

"He notes quite a bit of feces throughout the house," he said.

"The odour in the house was horrible. He felt disgusted."

Court heard the man agreed to buy a Great Dane puppy for $600.

He went into town to get money. When he returned, Balison said, he was greeted by Haughton.

"He described sitting on a heavily soiled couch," he said.

"They questioned them [Haughton and Barker] about a bump. It appeared the dog was injured."

The buyers were told the animal had been hurt when it was slammed in a door, court heard.

"Ms. Haughton came to meet the purchaser," Balison said.

"She told him she had just tattooed the ear of the dog. [The buyer] said he couldn't make out a tattoo, and it looked like there was green paint in the ear of the dog."

Balison said Haughton told the buyer she'd been breeding and selling Great Danes for 35 years.

"She described to him she only wanted 'perfect Great Danes,' because it was her name on the line," he said.

Court heard Barker used a needle to inject the dog with what she said was a microchip.

The buyer signed a contract with Haughton and Barker. Balison said Haughton's signature is on the contract, which lists her as "owner."

The contract also references a company called "Haughton Great Danes," court heard.

Judge Frame did not hesitate in issuing the warrant.

"The circumstances related do not sound quite promising for Ms. Haughton," she said.

"It seems clear she's not residing with the animals, and it's unclear whether she owns them, but it seems fairly evident to me she is in care and control and she is in breach."

Haughton's legal troubles began in June of 2009, when BCSPCA constables executed a search warrant at her Knutsford home.

Investigators seized 26 dogs and six cats from the property — which they called "a puppy mill" — all of whom were allegedly in distress.

At the time, BCSPCA constables described the condition of Haughton's home as "completely unacceptable," noting the residence was "covered in feces, animal vomit, urine and garbage."

Following a judicial review by a B.C. Supreme Court justice, the SPCA returned the animals to Haughton in April of 2010, but she was still bound by a number of bail conditions.

On June 29, 2010, BCSPCA investigators returned to Haughton's property for a compliance check, and allegedly found her in breach of a number of her conditions.

Investigators said they also found animals in distress, resulting in new cruelty charges.

Officers returned to Haughton's property a month later and found her in breach of her bail conditions again. She was charged with breaching her bail and was convicted on two counts, but has yet to be sentenced.

Haughton's original charges from the 2009 raid on her property are still outstanding. She's slated to return to court on those matters later this month for a pre-trial conference.

The cruelty charges stemming from the June 2010 compliance check also remain outstanding. A two-day trial on those counts is scheduled to begin on Dec. 12.

The court orders Haughton is currently bound by bar her from owning or caring for animals, other than a small number of sheep, a single dog for those sheep and one cat "to control the mice" on her property.

She's also allowed to transport livestock through the course of her work duties.

Haughton's bail conditions do not allow her to keep dogs or cats as pets, or breed puppies.

Her warrant is unendorsed, meaning she'll be held in custody following her arrest to appear before a judge.

Because Haughton was already on bail, it will also place her in a reverse-onus situation — meaning the onus is on the defence to justify her release, not on the Crown to justify her detention.

She could also potentially face new cruelty charges, depending on the outcome of a BCSPCA investigation.

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