Shelley Cuthbert filed an affidavit with the Supreme Court of Yukon on Oct. 30.
It was part of her response to the Yukon government’s efforts to get Cuthbert to leave the Tarfu Lake location where she has been camped with about 50 dogs since the end of July.
The government put forward a petition to the Yukon Supreme Court on Oct. 23.
In it, the minister of Energy, Mines and Resources requested a summons directing Cuthbert to “vacate or abandon” her campsite near Tarfu Lake on the grounds that Cuthbert is unlawfully occupying the land, which is just off Atlin Road.
In her response, Cuthbert said that she opposes the granting of the summons.
Cuthbert and her dogs used to live on the Tagish property where she operated a rescue.
In 2016, neighbours sued her over noise caused by what was then nearly 80 dogs onsite.
Her neighbours won the lawsuit. In October 2017, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower ordered Cuthbert to remove all but two dogs from her property. Cuthbert refused and appealed the decision. Shortly after her appeal was dismissed in May 2018, Cuthbert left the property, taking the dogs with her.
Cuthbert was recently found to be on Tarfu Lake, on a site measuring more than 200 by 50 metres, where she and the dogs are living in a collection of tents and a trailer.
Cuthbert’s affidavit says she was “informed by Jason Colbert NRO (natural resource officer); it is legal to camp in an undesignated area for up to 400 days.”
It also says the numerous enclosures on the site, made from pallets and haywire, are above ground, and temporary in nature, and that she no longer has a home.
“… It was ordered by this court that my dogs are not allowed to stay on my (titled) property in an unincorporated community with no by-laws and that part time residents with one couple on tourist visas, had more say over how my property was used,” her affidavit says. “Housing is a basic human right. I use my tent as my shelter and the dogs shelter with short hair for winter to survive the elements. This tent is moveable which meets the definition of camping.”
A friend of Cuthbert’s, Doug Martens, also filed an affidavit stating that he has visited the site and felt safe around the dogs. Cuthbert has previously said some of the dogs have behavioural and aggression problems, which is why she was unable to adopt them out.
“I did not hear the dogs until I was almost at the site. In other words I could not hear the dogs from the road which was 1 km away,” says Martens’ affidavit.
“I observed only surface damage to the pens of the land, I did not observe any smells that were offensive, and dogs did bark but weren’t a threat to my safety.”
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