Duncan woman pleads guilty as trial gets underway in dog-abuse case


WATCH: Tensions and emotions were running high today – all for Teddy – the dog at the centre of what BC SPCA calls one of the worsts animal abuse and neglect cases they’ve ever seen. The court was packed to capacity with those calling for change. Warning: This story may be graphic for some viewers. 

More than a year after an emaciated dog was found in distress on a Duncan property and died two days later, a Duncan woman has pleaded guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life for her dog.

A trial is currently underway in Duncan for Melissa Tooshley and Anderson Joe, who were both charged with failing to provide adequate food, water and shelter for the dog.

Tooshley originally pleaded not guilty but changed her plea on Wednesday. She had been charged with neglecting the dog from Jan. 16 to Feb. 16, 2018.

Joe is also charged with causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal. He has pleaded not guilty.

Both could face up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine and a lifetime ban on owning animals.

After Tooshley’s guilty plea, prosecutor John Blackman read an agreed statement of acts. According to Blackman, by pleading guilty, Tooshley admits she was aware the dog was tethered in the yard and was aware of the dog’s condition as seen in the photographs taken on Feb. 16 at the Limmo Road residence.

Tooshley also admitted there were occasions where she was the only adults in the house and in care of the dog.

Tooshley left shortly after her plea. Court then heard from two witnesses, a veterinarian who completed the necropsy and another vet that initially treated the dog.

The SPCA said the mixed-breed, medium sized dog, called Teddy by its rescuers, was found emaciated, chained and in critical distress on Feb. 16, 2018. He died two days later. The first vet, Glenna McGregor, said there were deep lacerations of the neck and the dog’s jugular veins were completely severed. McGregor said the scar tissue indicated a minimum of 10 to 20 days of the deep lacerations.

McGregor also told court Teddy had a deep laceration on the front, which can indicate straining, and was also in poor body condition from emanciation. It had no fat around vital organs, its hip, ribs, back and shoulders had lost muscle and its head had swollen two to three times its size.

Judge Mayland McKimm ordered a pre-sentence report and a full Gladue report to assist the court at Tooshley’s sentencing. It will take at least eight weeks to prepare the reports.

A Gladue report provides a judge with information on an Indigenous offender’s background. The reports are aimed at dealing with the disproportionate number of Indigenous offenders incarcerated in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Gladue decision set out factors that should be considered in the sentencing of Indigenous offenders.

The case has drawn attention across the province and on Wednesday, more than 100 protestors were chanting “Justice for Teddy” outside the courthouse. Others were inside to watch the trial and some cried in the courtroom when hearing the evidence.

File photo courtesy BC SPCA.

BC SPCA seized an emaciated, chained dog in critical distress on Feb. 16. His collar was embedded in his neck and the dog died two days later. File photo courtesy BC SPCA.

With files from Louise Dickson, Times Colonist 


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