A Ladner dog walker who left six dogs to die in the back of her hot truck last spring and then lied about it will be sentenced next week.
A sentencing hearing took place in Surrey Provincial Court Wednesday (Jan. 21) for Emma Paulsen, who pleaded guilty in November to one count each of animal cruelty and public mischief.
Last May, Paulsen was taking care of eight dogs, including a border collie owned by her and her ex-husband, when she reported six of the canines were stolen from her truck, which she claimed was parked at the Brookswood off-leash park in Langley.
The case received widespread TV coverage, some of which was played in court Wednesday, with Paulsen pleading for the dogs to be returned. The alleged dog theft sparked searches, rewards were offered and Pet Searchers Canada was hired by various dog owners.
Within days, however, the owner of Pet Searchers, Al MacLellan, began hearing suspicions about Paulsen’s version of events.
“After talking with her [Paulsen] … I was convinced she was lying,” he told police.
Paulsen eventually confessed she had gone shopping in Richmond, returning about 40 minutes later to find six dogs in the back of her truck dead. Two smaller ones in the front cab survived.
She admitted she dumped the dead dogs in the Fraser Valley. The bodies were later found in Abbotsford and a necropsy showed they died of heat stroke. Dog owners cried in court hearing details of the distress their pets likely suffered.
The court heard Paulsen had been warned before not to leave the animals in the truck by the owner of a horse stable where she often went to ride.
The Crown is seeking six to 12 months in jail (three-to-six-month consecutive sentences on each of the charges), a $5,000-10,000 fine, plus a lifetime ban on caring for others’ animals and a 10-year ban on owning or living with animals.
Defence recommended a conditional sentence to be served in the community, arguing jail time isn’t appropriate for Paulsen, who has no criminal record and did not intend to harm the dogs in her care.
“She has already been punished in many ways,” said lawyer Eric Warren, pointing to intense media attention and public vilification of his client.
Amber Williams, who owned 15-month-old pit bull Mia, one of the deceased dogs, said she’s seen no remorse from Paulsen.
“We still have not heard an apology,” Williams said.
Judge James Jardine will deliver his sentence Jan. 28.