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Dog breeder banned from owning animals for 20 years

Mel Gerling has been sentenced to six months
Mel Gerling has been sentenced to six months' house arrest and a 20-year ban from owning animals in relation to the SPCA seizure of 14 dogs in September 2010.
— image credit: Black Press file photo

A man accused of running a puppy mill in Abbotsford has received a six-month conditional sentence (house arrest) and a 20-year ban on owing animals in relation to the SPCA seizure of 14 dogs in September 2010.

Mel Gerling, 70, was sentenced Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on charges of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and failing to provide necessities for an animal. He must also complete 50 hours of community service.

Gerling was convicted of those charges in December following his trial, which had begun in April 2013.

He was charged in May 2011, several months after the SPCA seized shih tzus, chihuahuas, pugs and terrier crosses from a property on Sumas Way in Abbotsford.

At the time, the SPCA said the dogs were not receiving proper protection from the elements and were suffering from a range of health issues, including badly matted fur, eye infections, dental disease and badly overgrown nails.

Some of them also had luxating patellas – a hereditary condition in which the kneecap moves out of place.

The SPCA alleged that Gerling was running a puppy mill – an operation that breeds dogs a high volume, placing profit before animal welfare.

All 14 dogs that were seized were spayed or neutered and were then adopted out by the agency.

At the time the dogs were taken, Gerling blamed their condition on the man whom he said he was paying to care for them while two new kennel buildings were being constructed in Maple Ridge.

Gerling, who operated Mountain View Kennels and Puppy Paradise, later said he had retired and sold his business.

Damara and Patrick English, Gerling’s co-accused and former business partners, were also charged under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. They both pleaded guilty to causing an animal to continue to be in distress and were each sentenced last October to a $500 fine and two years’ probation.

Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer with the SPCA, said the agency is "extremely pleased" with Gerling's sentence.

" ,,, the ban means he will no longer be able to operate substandard breeding operations that inflict suffering on animals ... Unfortunately, individuals like Mel Gerling prey on people who don't take the time to research whether or not they are dealing with a reputable breeder," she said.

Gerling had been a focus of SPCA animal cruelty investigations dating back to 2006.

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