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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Five puppies abandoned in portable toilet-man and woman to plead Feb. 19

Police say they are "pleased" that charges have been laid in a disturbing case of animal cruelty that saw five puppies dumped down a roadside outhouse and left to die in southwestern Alberta.

Samantha Rieberger, 42, of Crowsnest Pass and 57-year-old Frederick Hoath of Fernie, B.C., have been charged with five counts of cruelty to animals under both the Criminal Code and Alberta's Animal Protection Act.

On Jan. 4, Crowsnest Pass RCMP responded to a frantic 911 call from a motorist who heard whimpering coming from an outdoor toilet alongside Highway 3, near the Alberta-British Columbia boundary.

They found five black Lab-cross puppies - about eight-weeks-old - in the feces-filled pit of the outhouse.

The two-hour rescue involved several agencies and contractors who worked to rescue the pups.

They had to chisel the toilet away from its concrete base to access the outhouse's holding tank to get the animals.

All of the puppies were given a clean bill of health and all have been adopted.

Alberta Transportation has sent the $800 bill for the destroyed toilet to the local Fish and Wildlife office. The RCMP has offered to pay the bill on their behalf.

"A lot of information was received from the public, and a lot of other agencies contributed to the information we were able to use," said Sgt. Scott Howard.

"As soon as we talked to the owner, we knew something wasn't right. As a result of some compelling information that we received, the grounds to pursue charges were provided to us."

The puppies' mother, along with several cats were taken from Rieberger's home by the SPCA.

Both were ordered to appear to make a plea Feb. 19.

Rieberger and Hoath are charged with five counts of cruelty to animals under the Criminal Code, as well as five counts of cruelty to animals under the Animal Protection Act.

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