With Buddy still missing, dog owner seeks damages

Buddy is still missing. The dog is at the centre of a case pitting his owner, Emerald Gillespie, against Shelley Cuthbert, who runs an animal rescue shelter in Tagish.

Buddy is still missing.

The dog is at the centre of a case pitting his owner, Emerald Gillespie, against Shelley Cuthbert, who runs an animal rescue shelter in Tagish.

In court Monday, Cuthbert said she had no idea where Buddy is.

The case started when Gillespie placed her dog at Cuthbert’s rescue while she was trying to find him a new home.

But when Gillespie came to get the dog back, Cuthbert claimed Gillespie had surrendered it.

Gillespie turned to the court to have the dog returned.

Judge Peter Chisholm ordered the dog be placed at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter while waiting for the matter to be tried.

But when a shelter employee went to retrieve Buddy, Cuthbert said she had given the dog away to be adopted.

She later said the dog escaped during transport.

After Cuthbert’s repeated no-shows in court, Chisholm ordered she appear in court to explain where the dog was.

She did that Monday, repeating her claim the dog escaped during transportation.

But neither Graham Lang, Gillespie’s lawyer, nor the judge seem to believe that version of the events.

Chisholm called her conduct “obstructive” in his written reasons issued last week explaining why he ordered her to appear in court.

“An inference can reasonably be drawn that Ms. Cuthbert moved the dog from her property after being served with notice of Ms. Gillespie’s application to place the dog with a third party,” he wrote.

Gillespie served Cuthbert with court documents Sept. 23 notifying her there would be a hearing to determine whether the dog should be placed at a shelter.

The next day Buddy was gone.

But Cuthbert claimed other dogs at the shelter ate the document and she had no idea the hearing was to take place.

Lang asked Cuthbert why she didn’t try to find out what those documents were.

The trial coordinator didn’t call her back, she said.

Lang also questioned why Cuthbert didn’t ask to see the documents when she filed an affidavit a week later.

“I didn’t think about it,” Cuthbert said.

She told the court she gave the dog to a friend, Chantal Lacelle, who was to give it to another friend in Alberta.

But the dog escaped during transport, which Cuthbert said was not unusual.

In an affidavit, Cuthbert threatened to have Buddy declared a dangerous dog if he was to be taken away from her property, meaning he would euthanized.

Lang asked her why she would give away a dangerous dog to somebody she didn’t know, who was going to transport it by road, knowing the dog could potentially be lost.

Cuthbert simply said she trusted Lacelle, who now lives with her.

At this point it seems unlikely Buddy will resurface.

Lang told the court he would be seeking punitive damages because of what he called Cuthbert’s obstruction.

If Gillespie is successful at trial, Cuthbert will have to pay $500 for her legal fees, Chisholm ruled today.

The trial is scheduled for Nov. 21.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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