Man charged with alleged Escuminac puppy mill fails to appear in court

A warrant has been issued for a Quebec man who failed to appear in court on Monday for a lawsuit related to a New Brunswick kennel.

Eric Couture was due to stand trial in Miramichi Provincial Court on charges related to a large dog seizure two years ago.

Judge Johanne-Marguerite Landry issued arrest warrants for Couture and Kevin Lockwood, a witness who also failed to appear in court.

Couture and Lockwood were both charged in August 2020 under the New Brunswick SPCA Act with failing to provide adequate medical care to an animal and confining an animal in unsanitary conditions.

They were also charged with willfully failing to provide adequate care to an animal under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Lockwood’s trial is scheduled for July 25.

Resident concerns

The charges stem from a seizure in a kennel converted into a church in Escuminac, about 60 kilometers east of Miramichi. The New Brunswick SPCA has taken in over 60 puppies, all of whom were subsequently adopted.

The kennel, which bred pinschers, passed several inspections and has been licensed by the SPCA.

Nearby residents had raised concerns about the breeding for several years, alleging the kennel was a puppy mill. In 2017, more than 150 people protested outside the building claiming the dogs had been abused.

After the demonstration, Couture inaugurated the building to protesters in an effort to dispel the allegations.

Couture’s new trial date is pending his arrest.