Monique TAMMINGA and Alex BUTLER
Six dogs originally reported stolen in Langley had actually died in the care of their dog walker and were dumped on Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford.
The bodies were retrieved by the BC SPCA on Monday. They had been dumped in a ditch near the corner of Dixon Road and Campbell Road.
Langley RCMP Cpl. Holly Marks said police believe the six dogs perished in the back of the dog walker’s vehicle in the heat of the day.
Public mischief charges are possible and the investigation into the alleged mistreatment of the dogs has been turned over to the SPCA.
Pet Searchers Canada, an agency hired by the dog owners to help retrieve the animals, determined that the animals had actually died of heat stroke last Tuesday, when they were said to have gone missing from Brookswood dog park.
On the agency’s website, owner Al MacLellan said the dog walker told him she left the six large dogs in the back of her truck with the canopy closed but with vent windows open.
When she discovered all the dogs had succumbed, she said she panicked and made up the lie that they were taken.
Lorie Chortyk, spokesperson for the BC SPCA, said after that information was shared with police and the animals were confirmed dead, the file was handed over to the BC SPCA, as they are the lead investigation and enforcement agency for animal cruelty cases.
Yesterday (Tuesday) the bodies were taken to a medical lab to undergo necropsies.
Chortyk said they will look for physical evidence to show how the animals died and how long it took. They will also interview those involved and that information will form part of the evidence that the BC SPCA will submit to Crown counsel, which will decide whether charges will be laid.
“Any situation involving causing distress to animals or allowing distress to animals certainly can be punished either under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act … or the Criminal Code.”
Chortyk said they hope to have the results of the necropsy within a week.
Chortyk said, “It is just sickening to think what (the families of the dogs) must have gone through,” while the animals were missing.
She said people must be aware of the dangers of leaving animals in vehicles. Chortyk said many people don’t realize that as little as 10 minutes in a warm vehicle, even with windows open, can be fatal to animals.
“We really hope that from this tragedy, there comes an awareness.”