Subject of animal and weapons investigation calls police response a ‘waste of taxpayers’ money’
**Update: The weapons charges against Fred Brokop were stayed in November 2018**
Two days after a large police presence arrived on the property he leases in southwest Calgary, Fred Brokop says he struggles to understand how an investigation into the welfare of animals did not begin with a simple phone call or knock on his door.
Dozens of emergency personnel gathered near a location in the 8300 block of 150 Avenue S.W. on Tuesday morning after a search warrant was issued under the Animal Protection Act.
“It was kind of a shock,” said Brokop on Thursday. “You don’t normally look out your window and see a SWAT team sitting there and pointing six guns at you.”
More than 40 animals, that officials say were in distress, were removed from the property but Brokop, who was at the centre of the investigation in connection with a breach of a condition, claims none of the animals belonged to him. The 56-year-old ranch hand says the quails, dogs, cats and a gecko that were seized belonged to other tenants who lived on the ranch.
“I didn’t think I was in breach of anything,” said Brokop who had previously pleaded guilty to two charges related to animal abuse. “I don’t own any animals. I didn’t care for them.”
A dog was seized from Brokop’s home but he claims the animal belonged to his roommate. “I wasn’t aware that I couldn’t have someone in my residence with animals.”
Brokop was arrested and charged with 15 weapons-related charges and one count of breaching a court order. According to police, 20 long rifles were found on the property but the accused claims his guns would have been properly stored had he not been interrupted by the police investigation.
“You’re allowed to look at your guns. You’re allowed to move them and display them and handle them anytime you like while you’re home. You’re supposed to lock the door on your house when you leave. I never had time to lock my door.”
Brokop claims the responding officers kicked their way into his home through the unlocked door,
“I couldn’t lock it. They arrested me. I didn’t voluntarily leave that house,” said Brokop. “I didn’t get a chance to store them.”
After being released from custody, Brokop discovered three homes on the property, including his own, had been condemned without explanation. He says he is now living in a camping trailer on the grounds.
On Wednesday, Staff Sergeant Guy Baker of the Calgary Police Service stated ‘In the 31 years that I have been a police officer, I’ve not seen such a disgusting and dirty environment to live as humans and also to raise animals’.
Brokop objected to Baker’s claim regarding the alleged deplorable conditions. “Maybe he lives in a mansion. Maybe he walks in and takes his boots off every time.”
A resident of the property, who requested anonymity, says he has lived in his home for nearly a month and considers the ranch to be a positive place. “Healthy people live here that lead healthy lives (and) love animals,” said the man. “Some people don’t live the way that most people think is the right way but, as far as my living concerns are, I live in a clean place and I live in a place that I can call home.”
“I am not a veterinarian but I would say that these animals were healthy and loved.”
The unnamed resident called the police response ‘a little heavy-handed’.
“I understand where they’re coming from and they want the wellbeing of animals,” said the man. “In this particular (case), the animals’ wellbeing was put far ahead of the tenants who were unsuspecting and unknowledgeable of anything going on.”
Brokop questions what he refers to as a ‘waste of taxpayers’ dollars’.
“Why would you bring that many units,” asked Brokop. “Yeah, they didn’t know what they were walking in on but they could have done a little bit of research to know a little bit more about what they’re walking into instead of bringing that many people."
“If they can bring 50 units in here, maybe they pay them too much.”
Brokop says he has a lawyer working for him now. “I think we’ve had some defamation of character going on the TV.”
“My number’s available. They could have talked to me. They could have, at any time, talked to me but they just threw everything on the TV and spread my name out there in a really bad way. What do you do with that? How would you feel?”
Brokop is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 in connection with the firearm and breaching of conditions charges.
The Calgary Humane Society’s investigation into animal cruelty continues.
With files from CTV’s Jordan Kanygin