The recently formed “United for Paws” group will hold a rally on March 25 to make a stand against animal abuse and neglect in the Cowichan Valley.
The group had planned a peaceful protest on April 3 at the Duncan Courthouse as Duncan’s Anderson Joe and Melissa Tooshley appear in court to answer to charges of animal cruelty after a dog, called Teddy, that was seized from their care died from severe neglect.
But organizer Brittany Pickard-Brown said there were concerns that the protest could “get out of hand” and take away from the message United for Paws wants to convey to the community.
“We decided that the protest at the courthouse would not change anything and what we really want is to see some changes to the bylaws in the Valley’s municipalities to better protect animals,” she said.
“The City of Duncan does have some animal-protection bylaws that state the animals can’t be abandoned, neglected or tormented, but the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Municipality of North Cowichan don’t have similar bylaws.”
In one of the most profoundly shocking and disturbing cases of abuse the BC SPCA has ever witnessed, special constables seized the emaciated and chained Teddy in critical distress on Feb. 16.
The dog was found on a tether that was only a few inches long, standing in a large pile of mud and feces, and not only was Teddy severely emaciated, but his collar was deeply embedded into his neck, causing massive infection so severe that the dog’s head was swollen to two to three times its normal size.
The case is just one of many cases of animal abuse and neglect that have surfaced in the Valley over the last six months.
They include a case where Robert Carolan was sentenced to jail time for beating his puppy to death, and Gigi the cat who was drugged and shaved.
Pickard-Brown said the goal of United for Paws is to bring people together as a united front and ask local and senior governments to be partners to address the issues around animal cruelty.
“We figured the community event on March 25 will be a great opportunity to join residents and leaders in our community with municipal, First Nations and other organizations that champion these issues,” she said.
The rally will take place at the Duncan Community Lodge, 2244 Moose Rd., beginning at 1 p.m. on March 25.
Speakers include Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, a member of the BC SPCA and representatives from local governments.