Already under fire for the alleged abuse of its sea mammals, the Niagara Falls Marineland has made the news once again, though this time its owner has been accused of shooting to death two yellow labs.
The Toronto Star published a lengthy article outlining the allegations on Tuesday; apparently in November 2010 two dogs owned by Gerry Cormier, Heather Rose and their son Jeremy escaped from the family’s fenced back yard.
Marineland, located in a residential neighbourhood close to the Cormier/Rose home, features a deer pen that backs onto a street.
According to Jim Hammond, then a Marineland land animal supervisor, he spotted the dogs running back and forth outside the deer pen.
He told the Star that he called his boss and Marineland owner John Holer and told him about the dogs. Holer drove over to the area in his truck, and Hammond asked him if he wanted to call the Humane Society to pick them up.
Holer said no, that he’d deal with it, and then drove off. Not long later, Hammond said he heard gunshots.
Returning to the deer pen, Hammond found the two yellow labs dead, and Holer told him to look for and remove any collars.
After checking for collars, which he doesn’t recall finding, Hammond put the dogs bodies on the back of the park’s hay wagon and drove to the animal care building where he packed them in the freezer.
"When the freezer was full, the dogs were buried in one of Marineland’s mass animal graves."#OPSID
— M.A.D.(@marinelandAD) March 5, 2013
A neighbour who was in the area visiting her mother backs up Hammond’s story. Diana Drury said she was at the bottom of her mother’s driveway packing up her car when she heard gunfire.
Turning quickly in the direction of the shots, she saw Holer about a football field away, standing in front of his truck aiming a gun.
After calling police, she was told that Holer was allowed to use the gun on his property because it was agricultural, and that it would be some time before police arrived.
Deciding not to file a report, she wasn’t sure how to approach the dogs’ owners, and instead soon after told another neighbour who passed along the information to the Cormier/Rose family.
John Holer fully denies the allegations, and refused to comment when the Star contacted him. His lawyer did email the reporter with this statement:
The three-year-old false and defamatory allegations named by an unnamed person(s), are grossly inaccurate and false and are part of an unfair public vendetta against Marineland by animal rights activists who seek to shut all zoos and aquariums in Ontario, aided, supported and furthered by you, despite the clear and unequivocal finding by qualified veterinary experts that there is ‘no evidence of animal abuse’ at Marineland.
The lawyer was referring to the extended and ongoing criticism of the park by close to 10 former animal trainers and keepers who claim the sea mammals kept there are mistreated as a result of poor water conditions, insufficient healthcare and lack of staffing.
Since the initial allegations were levied, there’s been a grassroots effort to close the park, or at least improve the living standards for the animals there.
Canada has no government regulation of marine parks or of any animal park.
Please support the Marineland whistleblowers who continue to reveal atrocities from within. Litigation costs mounting indiegogo.com/projects/suppo…
— Philip Demers (@walruswhisperer) March 5, 2013