Justice for abused cat, dog, may take awhile

Some new evidence has been found in the case of two abused animals which were found in a Willow Park alleyway in January, but it may be awhile before any charges are laid.

The evidence “requires forensic examination and it may take some time before it can be a part of the investigation,” Brad Nichols, manager of cruelty investigations at the Humane Society, said in an interview in early February.

An emaciated female Siberian Husky was found dead with her muzzle taped shut in an alley at the 200 block of 99th Ave. S.E. on Jan. 9.

A week later, a cat was found in similar condition in the same alleyway, roughly 10 feet from where the Husky had been left. The cat’s muzzle had been taped shut with painter’s tape.

Tips began rolling in to the Humane Society, and canvassing of the neighbourhood led to some leads.

On Jan. 24th, Calgary Humane Society investigators executed a search warrant on a Willow Park home, not far from where the animals were found.

Nichols said it was a tip that led to the warrant.

The search has also led to a person of interest, but investigators are withholding information to ensure integrity of the investigation.

A necropsy revealed that the two animals had a history of abuse. Investigation of the bones revealed new fractures, as well as old ones that have since healed.

A reward fund was started by Calgary’s mobile vet service Vets To Go with the original goal of raising $10,000, in hopes of encouraging anyone with information to come forward.

Once the total reached $75,000, the decision was made to have the fund capped, due to growing concern that information might be withheld until the reward got bigger.

As a result, the reward will be $20,000 and “the remainder will spent on means to bring justice to these defenseless animals,” said Vets to Go president Greg Habstritt.

The remaining cash will be used to establish a national animal abuse registry, and a training program for prosecutors dealing with animal abuse cases.

“We currently have laws that could be put in place, but I feel they are not being used very effectively. Providing proper knowledge and training for prosecutors is the greatest way to affect change,” said Habstritt.

If the reward money is not claimed after a year, it will be donated to theCalgary Humane Society Investigation Unit to improve tools, training, and technology to help prosecute animal abuse cases.

More than 200 people gathered on Jan. 25th in Willow Park to bring awareness to abuse towards animals, and to sign a petition to toughen animal abuse laws.

Currently, under provincial law, animal abusers can be fined up to $25,000 and banned from owning an animal for life. In a federal case, a judge can sentence an animal abuser to a five-year jail term, along with a fine.

“I don’t think it’s reform we need, as much as training for prosecutors,” said Nichols.

“The penalties are plenty severe, we just need to be able to catch the perpetrators and prosecute them more efficiently,” he said.

Calgary Rescue dogs
Man’s best friend: Willow, a formerly abused bear-coat sharpei, waits in her new foster home at Eagle Lake Boarding Kennel for somebody to provide her with a permanent home.

 

About Daniel Mantai 9 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Daniel Mantai worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2013-2014 academic year.