Tagish dog rescue owner Shelley Cuthbert only surrendered four dogs — not 10, as she previously told media — to the Yukon government’s animal health unit Feb. 15, according to her newly-filed affidavit.
The six other dogs were returned to their previous owners.
However, in the affidavit filed Feb. 27, Cuthbert emphasizes that all 10 dogs were still euthanized.
It’s the latest development in a years-long legal battle between Cuthbert and her neighbours in Tagish Estates, who last year won a nuisance lawsuit that resulted in an injunction requiring Cuthbert to reduce the dogs on her property from an estimated 60 to two.
Cuthbert is in the process of appealing the ruling and, in January, requested a stay on the injunction until her appeal is heard in May. A judge granted a partial stay later that month that instead requires Cuthbert to surrender 10 dogs a month on the 15th of every month to the animal health unit.
Cuthbert has since gone back to court to ask for that partial stay to be changed so she can “relocate” them instead.
In the affidavit, Cuthbert said that she surrendered four dogs to the animal health unit Feb. 15 and requested they be euthanized “mainly because of age/medical conditions/history of bites.” Photocopies of four surrender forms are attached to the affidavit as an exhibit. Three of the forms say that the dog is being surrendered because of a court order, that the dog is “non-adoptable” and that the owner requests euthanization. The fourth form states that the dog is a “personal pet” and that the owner is requesting euthanization due to “old age.”
“The previous owners of six dogs stepped up so I would not have to be the one to euthanize their dogs,” the affidavit says.
“I knew I would be breaching the order by not handing the six dogs to the animal health unit to be euthanized at my request as they don’t meet the criteria. But as part of being a human that understands the companionship of dogs with humans and how difficult it has been for these owners to surrender their dogs for whatever reason, I felt it was the right thing to do.”
The affidavit also states that Cuthbert has been able to “secure a temporary location to place the dogs.” Attached as an exhibit is what appears to be a letter by a Carcross/Tagish First Nation citizen stating that he is “allowing Ms. Cuthbert to house dogs on my land temporarily until such time as the appeal is heard.”
In written arguments also filed Feb. 27, Cuthbert says that the relocation would happen “weather permitting.”
The document also claimed that the judge who ordered the partial stay “erred” in his decision, arguing that Cuthbert’s neighbours are away for the winter and are not being inconvenienced by the rescue while relocating the dogs would be “very difficult.”
The arguments also claim that, besides the 10 dogs that were euthanized, Cuthbert has lost her business of providing dog daycare, boot camp and dogcatching services for Carcross/Tagish First Nation.
“The appellant has already suffered irreparable harm and is asking the courts to vary the order to prevent further harm,” it says.
In an interview, lawyer Graham Lang, who’s representing Cuthbert’s neighbours, said he will argue to have the partial stay kept in place.
“What we’re trying to avoid is a catastrophic situation in May where the respondents are successful in the appeal and are faced with removing 50 dogs from Ms. Cuthbert’s property,” he said. “What we’re trying to accomplish is the orderly and humane winding up of this operation. Ms. Cuthbert’s proposition that she temporarily store the dogs until May somewhere else isn’t going to work because come May, we’re still faced with 50 dogs.”
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org