“Certainly the manner in which this was sent around is certainly interesting, to say the least. We’d like to be able to speak to the person to find out exactly what their intentions are, with regards to that. The contents of the letter itself doesn’t appear to be nefarious in any way,” said Ontario SPCA inspector Scott Sylvia.
Numerous rural homes in Floradale, largely farms with barns that were clearly being used, received the letters in their mailboxes last week.
The letter offers cash in exchange for puppies and claims to provide dogs for volunteer programs with “universities, government offices and senior homes to provide puppy therapy where little puppies get the opportunity to be socialized before they go to their forever homes.”
Pandora Wilhelm is one of the residents who received the letter in her mailbox. She’s spoken to 14 others who have as well.
She contacted the Orangeville police, the Waterloo Regional police and the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society, who passed it on to the Ontario SPCA.
She’s heard from residents who don’t share her concerns and think it’s someone just looking to resell them in Toronto, but she’s not convinced.
The letter was signed by “Winston H.” When she called to find out if he was legitimate, she says he got defensive and rude, refusing to give her his last name or tell her what agency he was affiliated with.
The phone number on the letter has since been disconnected.
He also said the letters were mailed, despite having no postage or return address.
“It would have had to have been multiple people to deliver the amount of letters that were delivered. There’s no way one person was able to do that all in one afternoon because it went all the way from Floradale all the way out towards Drayton and Alma too,” Wilhelm said.
Sylvia agrees that the lack of a return address on the envelope as well as only one phone number on the letter are both concerning.
“The manner in which it was done certainly is not something that we’ve seen of late. Again, we’d like to be able to clarify what’s going on with this person, if they do have any animals in their possession how are they dealing with that, that type of thing,” Sylvia said.
Wilhelm said she’s worried the prospective buyer wants puppies for dog baiting or dog fighting because of the breeds he was looking for.
“When I contacted him he was very specific about what breeds he was looking for, he was looking for the rare breeds and he didn’t want any of the docile breeds. He was looking for Malinois crosses or pit bull crosses,” Wilhelm said.
She recalls in the late 1990s there was a Winston in the Orangeville area running a puppy mill that was shut down.
“You don’t buy a whole litter of puppies with a good intention, in my opinion,” Wilhelm said.
Sylvia says anyone who receives a letter like this and is concerned about it should contact the Ontario SPCA and their local police department.
“The baiting of dogs or the use of bait animals is something that we haven’t seen too often, but when it is seen you’re seeing it with a case of somebody who’s inexperienced when it comes to dog fighting. They’re starting out or it may even be at a street level.”
He notes dog fighting is a very clandestine operation, making it difficult to track and to investigate. He’s encouraging residents to contact the Ontario SPCA if they have further information about the letter as well as if anyone else receives a letter like this.
“When you see an ad like this, take into consideration where it may be coming from. Don’t respond to it. Pass it on to the authorities so we can have a closer look at what’s going on.”