Police officers responding to calls about a possible home invasion in Brossard Wednesday morning made a surprise discovery of 24 dogs living in squalor.

The man living in the home on La Piniere Blvd. called 911 just before dawn to report that there were "intruders" inside of his house. When police arrived, they instead discovered the dogs and a boa constrictor living inside the home.

Officers were unable to locate any intruders on the property, except the caller, who was in apparent psychological distress.

The 35-year-old man was taken to a hospital center in Monteregie, and dogs were left in the care of MAPAQ, who contacted the Roussillon SPCA.

The dogs, all adult huskies and puppies, have been seized by the agriculture ministry. All indications so far show that none appear to be in distress.

They'll receive a checkup from a veterinarian and get temporary care and shelter at the SPCA.

“Right now the animals, regardless of the situation today, they still belong to the owner. Either he has to surrender them, or it has to go to court, where a judge will decide if the animals will be given to the SPCA or the MAPAQ and the MAPAQ can give them to us. So there's a whole chain, a legal structure, that has to go with this,” said Pierre Bourbonnais, executive director of the SPCA Roussillon.

Bourbonnais said the animals were being used for breeding purposes.

"The owner admitted to the city inspector that they were breeding the dogs and it's obvious from the situation that it's a breeding situation," he said.

An investigation is ongoing.

Unsanitary environment

Preliminary observations by police led them to conclude that the man was living in an unsanitary environment.

He is being treated in hospital.

Constable Melanie Mercille from the Longueuil police said the force now has a team of special responders for situations involving psychological distress or mental illness.

They encourage friends and family members of anyone living in questionable circumstances to come forward and contact police, if necessary. This way, Mercille said, vulnerable people can be better protected from self-harm or harm against others.

"Don't be shy to call 911 - we are here to help with this person you think has some mental health problems, or is a vulnerable person," Mercille said. "We have five police officers and one sergeant in this new team, and they are specialized to help vulnerable persons."

A bylaw in Longueuil specifies that a homeowner can have no more than two dogs on a residential property. However, the property in question is technically zoned for agriculture - meaning the homeowner could legally have up to 15 dogs in his possession.

With files from The Canadian Press