Tagish dog rescue owner Shelley Cuthbert was back in court asking that the order requiring her to surrender 10 dogs a month to be changed so that the animals are only need to be“relocated.” (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)

Tagish dog rescue owner asks court to change dog surrender order

Shelley Cuthbert is asking for changes to an order requiring her to surrender 10 dogs per month

A Tagish dog rescue owner was back in court Feb. 14 asking for a judge’s order requiring her to surrender 10 dogs on the 15th of every month to the Yukon’s Animal Health Unit be changed so that the animals only need to be “relocated.”

Shelley Cuthbert is in the midst of appealing a successful lawsuit against her by six of her neighbours in Tagish Estates in October 2017 who said that the excessive noise coming from her rescue was disrupting their abilities to enjoy their own properties. Trial judge Justice Leigh Gower issued an injunction ordering Cuthbert to reduce the number of dogs on her property from an estimated 60 animals to two. Gower gave Cuthbert until mid-February to comply.

Cuthbert went back to court in January to apply for a stay on the order until her appeal could be heard, calling Gower’s injunction “draconian.” Following the suggestion of Graham Lang, the lawyer representing Cuthbert’s neighbours, B.C.-Yukon Court of Appeal Justice John J.L. Hunter granted a partial stay Jan. 24 that, among other things, requires Cuthbert surrender 10 dogs a month on the 15th of every month to the Yukon government’s Animal Health Unit.

At the time, Cuthbert told the News that she knew the dogs she surrendered would be put down.

In her notice of motion filed Feb. 12, Cuthbert asked that Hunter’s order be changed so that, instead of surrendering 10 dogs, 10 dogs “leave” on the 15th of each month until her appeal can be heard in May. The motion states that the dogs will be “relocated to temporary foster homes, returned to owners at request and set up (a) temporary shelter working with Carcross/Tagish First Nation once weather permits to ensure safety and security of the animals.”

An attached affidavit states that CTFN has “agreed to assist with providing assistance in setting up a temporary shelter to move the dogs” and also includes a letter signed by the chair of CTFN’s land management board, Patrick James, that states Cuthbert provides an “invaluable service” to CTFN.

“We value and respect all animals and the work that Miss Cuthbert continues to do on behalf of all Yukoners,” the letter reads. “We sincerely hope that the courts will work amenable with Miss Cuthbert while we collectively work on this important issue.”

Cuthbert also states in the affidavit that the Animal Health Unit has told her that “100 (per cent) of the dogs residing on the property would be deemed unadoptable.”

“It would be in the best interest to have the dogs remain under my care and control to ensure they will continue to find the right homes,” the affidavit reads. “I continually work with rescues south and once space opens and they can take a dog that meets their criteria flights are arranged and the dog leaves.”

Technically, Cuthbert had up to seven days after Hunter issued his order to make an application to vary it. She’s also filed a separate motion asking for the timeline for her application to change the order to be extended on the ground that she was not aware of the rule.

Cuthbert’s applications were scheduled to be heard at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 14.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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