A 28-year-old man has been charged with three animal-bylaw infractions after tying his dog to his truck and dragging the animal down Hamilton Boulevard in early February.
Stanley Gostel faces up to a $10,000 fine and six months in jail under a provision that allows a Whitehorse bylaw to mirror a criminal animal cruelty conviction, explained senior bylaw officer David Pruden.
“It’s certainly going to be a lot more than the $500 (per count) than the bylaw allows us to seek,” said Pruden on Tuesday.
“If $10,000 is what case law allows, that’s what we’ll ask for. We’ll push it for the max and see what the courts give us.”
Gostel is scheduled to enter a plea in court on April 24.
The two-year-old husky-cross dog he’s accused of dragging is suffering from extreme road rash — after three weeks, his shoulder is still a fleshy mess — and is slowly recovering after surgery at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter in Whitehorse.
Shelter staff have named him Trooper.
On February 9 at around 7:30 p.m., the man is alleged to have left a McIntyre village residence with Trooper tied to his pickup truck’s back bumper.
Witnesses watched in horror as the man drove down Hamilton Boulevard at speeds up to 70 km/hr with Trooper dragging helplessly behind the truck.
After dragging the dog for about three kilometres, the dog’s owner was stopped at the Alaska Highway intersection on Hamilton by concerned motorists, said Pruden.
“Several people had seen the dog being dragged behind the vehicle,” he said. “He stopped because people were honking at him and flashing their lights.”
Three witnesses told bylaw officials that the man got out of his truck, said Pruden.
“He untied the dog, placed it in the back of his vehicle and then took it down to a vet,” he said.
Trooper was taken to a vet office. It was closed for the weekend.
The man left the dog outside and left. Pruden couldn’t comment if the dog’s owner called anyone about the dog or left a note at the vet clinic.
Trooper is believed to have spent the next two nights outside the vet clinic before being discovered by a staff member on February 11.
The RCMP received a 911 call on February 9 and instinctively went to vet clinics looking for the owner and the injured dog, but didn’t find either, said Pruden.
While he has spoken to the owner, Pruden wouldn’t say if it is believed he knew Trooper was tied to his truck or not.
Whitehorse will ask the court that the dog’s owner not be allowed to own an animal for two years, the maximum the criminal code allows, said Pruden.
Trooper will likely recover from his injuries, he said.
“He’ll live; my understanding from the vets is that he’ll need further surgery down the road,” said Pruden.
Whitehorse receives several animal-cruelty complaints every year, but has never encountered a case like this, he added.
“There’s been nothing of this magnitude.”