WATCH: Community in fear after alleged Tsartlip vigilante attack, but would you believe this is the same dog?
It’s a hard image to look at — an emaciated-looking dog with a rope around its belly attached to a cinder block in a culvert on the Tsartlip First Nation.
“It looked quite distressing,” says BC SPCA animal cruelty investigator Erika Paul. “It was pouring with rain and it was a really windy night.”
The animal cruelty complaint came in late Wednesday and the Victoria SPCA immediately called Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, who could get to the dog faster.
But the pictures were also posted to social media and reaction was swift — not just online, but also allegedly in person the next day.
“We had some people I think taking it upon themselves to come and investigate where the dog was,” says Tsartlip Chief Don Tom.
Chief Tom says two people walking down the street were attacked with pepper spray or bear spray in two separate incidents in what be believes is a vigilante attack.
“They had children with them at the time and one member was hospitalized and that’s concerning and it can’t happen in our community,” says Chief Tom. “We’re concerned for our public safety and we can’t have people trespassing in our community taking this upon themselves.”
Many people on the Tsartlip First Nation feel like their community is under attack — not just with the alleged vigilantism but also online from derogatory and sometimes hateful comments on how they live.
“I don’t know if people don’t have a life or what but they got to pick on the Indian,” says Tsartlip resident Francis Smith. “They jump to conclusions.”
SPCA investigation determines dog not tied to cement block in culvert
The biggest conclusion of all — that the dog was mistreated.
The SPCA investigation has determined the young dog, named Coop, wasn’t tied up in the culvert. He got stuck there after escaping from his yard.
“He got out of his harness and while he was at large he managed to get himself entangled in this nylon line and ultimately ended up in the predicament he was in,” explains Paul.
As for how thin Coop looked?
“I think the photo was somewhat deceiving,” Paul says. ” I thought he looked emaciated too but he’s not and he had a wellness check today and the vet found he was in generally good health.”
“It’s dangerous when you act on a little bit of information,” Chief Tom says.
Tsartlip’s Chief just hopes his community will no longer have to live in fear and now that people know the full story, they’ll think twice before jumping to conclusions.