Shelley Cuthbert walks two of her pitbull-mix rescue dogs, Bebe, left and Brutus, in Whitehorse this past April. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Tagish dog rescue owner Shelley Cuthbert moves dogs from property

In a court appearance June 12, Cuthebrt said she’s removed all but two dogs to a new location

Tagish dog rescue owner Shelley Cuthbert has moved the majority of her 43 dogs to another location, putting an application by lawyers representing her Tagish Estates neighbours to find her in contempt of court on hold.

Lawyer Meagan Hannam told Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower June 12 that, as of that afternoon, there appeared to be 10 or fewer dogs on Cuthbert’s property.

“I’m happy to advise that significant progress has been made,” Hannam said, adding that her clients — six Tagish Estates residents who successfully sued Cuthbert last year over the level of noise coming from her rescue — were “very pleased” with the situation.

Cuthbert, however, who attended court via phone call, said that there were only two dogs remaining.

“So you’re in compliance with the order now?” Gower asked her.

“I am,” Cuthbert replied.

Tuesday’s court proceedings were a follow-up to a hearing last week during which lawyer Graham Lang, also representing Cuthbert’s neighbours, said he intended to proceed with an application to find Cuthbert in contempt of court if she continued to disregard the injunction that came out of the original lawsuit.

That injunction, which was put on hold as Cuthbert appealed the trial but was immediately reenacted after the Yukon Court of Appeal dismissed her case last month, requires that Cuthbert have no more than two dogs on her Tagish Estates property at any time. Cuthbert said during that appearance that she and her dogs would be gone by June 11.

In a phone interview following the June 12 proceedings, Cuthbert said she currently has 43 dogs, all but two of which she’s moved to a new location.

“The last load (of dogs) is in the back of my truck now, we’re just heading back out,” she said, adding that it was “no easy choice” to pick which two dogs were going to remain at the Tagish property.

“I don’t have a pen set up for the last two, so I have to wait until that pen’s set up and then I’ll go get them,” she said.

“I don’t talk about my feelings, but I’ll tell you, it’s been hell on the dogs… A lot of them have gone back to square one.”

Cuthbert declined to say where she had moved “for the safety of the dogs and myself,” but said that she is still in talks with lawyers about bringing her case to the Supreme Court of Canada and will continue to pursue her defamation lawsuit against her neighbours.

In a separate phone interview, Lang said he was pleased with the past week’s developments, and that he and his clients will continue to check up on the number of dogs on Cuthbert’s Tagish property to ensure that she’s in compliance.

“In our hearing last week, it was very clear that (Cuthbert) had found somewhere to go and I think that was the biggest stumbling block for everybody involved here, was placing the dogs somewhere — because again, the purpose of the neighbours wasn’t to have the dogs euthanized, it wasn’t to force the dogs into the government’s hands. The intention was just to have the dogs removed from the neighbourhood (and put them) somewhere else,” Lang said.

“Ms. Cuthbert has found somewhere else and she’s made great strides to moving dogs to wherever this location is.”

A follow-up court date is scheduled for June 26.

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

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