A Lethbridge judge sentencing a southern Alberta woman Wednesday (Dec. 4) for causing animals to be in distress.

59 year old April Irving pleaded guilty to four counts under Alberta’s Animal Protection Act this summer after more than 200 dogs were seized from a property near Milk River more than four years ago.

Most were malnourished, injured and in extreme distress.

Judge Derek Redman stated in court that Irving was “grossly negligent and reckless” in the care she provided to the dogs. He went on to say Irving “failed them miserably. This was not a case of a momentary lack of judgement.”

Irving has been fined $15,500 and given a lifetime ban from owning dogs in Alberta. The ban only applies to this province, however.

If Irving doesn’t pay the fine she will get time in jail, however she’s already spent time in custody after her arrest this year. Judge Redman noted that would count as time already served.

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Crown Prosecutopr Tyler Raymond spoke to media outside the courthouse following Wednesday’s sentencing. He says he’s very happy with the way this turned out, despite how long it has taken for this entire case to finally come to an end.

“This marks a five year venture to hold April Irving accountable for what was absolutely one of the worst animal atrocities in this province and country’s history,” says Raymond. “Both of those penalties ($15,500 fine & Alberta dog ban) are at or near the maximums available under the Animal Protection Act.”

Under Alberta law, there is no jail time for anyone found guilty under the Animal Protection Act.

Irving was not in court for her sentencing Wednesday. She called the courthouse during the start of the hearing to say she had a medical appointment and couldn’t make it in.

She was originally arrested and charged in 2014, however she left the country and went Jamaica for a period of time before returning to Canada. She was arrested early this year in Manitoba and brought back to Alberta to face the charges.

In 2013, Irving had also been convicted for similar offences in Saskatchewan, and was ordered to not have custody of any more than two animals for a period of ten years in that province.

For a timeline of events with this case you can read our previous story here from July 24, 2019: April Irving Pleads Guilty to Animal Distress Charges

Raymond says the sentence really had nothing to do with the large fine levied against the accused which certainly is a deterrent for any future animal cruelty cases, but instead it was to ensure April Irving would never have the ability to own or have care and control of a dog for the rest of her life in this province.