There will be a peaceful protest held at the Duncan Courthouse at 9 a.m. on April 3 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.
Brittany Pickard-Brown, who has formed a group called “United For Paws” to fight against animal abuse in the Cowichan Valley and beyond, said the group is also petitioning Crown council and Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, to ask that the maximum penalty be imposed on Joe and Tooshley for their “horrific act” of animal abuse.
If convicted, Joe and Tooshley face a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine and up to a lifetime ban on owning animals.
“This case is just the tip of the iceberg of the many cases of animal abuse and neglect that have surfaced in the Valley over the last six months,” Pickard-Brown said.
“They include Molly, the pot-bellied pig that was eaten by its owner, and Gigi the cat who was drugged and shaved. These cases make everyone in the Valley look bad so we decided to come together as a group to make a stand against these cases of animal abuse.”
In one of the most profoundly shocking and disturbing cases of abuse the BC SPCA 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.
Despite extensive emergency treatment and around-the-clock care, the dog succumbed to his critical condition two days later.
Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowochan-Malahat-Langford, said many residents have reached out to him to share their concerns about what happened to Teddy and demand that the federal government act to implement tougher animal cruelty legislation.
He said that he “emphatically agrees”.
“New Democrats have proudly led the charge over the years on strengthening regulations and penalties for animal abuse, including MP Fin Donnelly’s Bill C-380, which would have banned the importation of shark fins, former MP Peggy Nash’s Bill C-232, which would have strengthened the language of federal animal cruelty laws and former MP Isabelle Morin’s Bill C-592 which would have established penalties for those who were guilty of cruel acts against animals,” MacGregor said.
“In 2016, the House of Commons had the opportunity to make real progress on this issue when we debated a Liberal Private Member’s Bill, C-246. I was proud to support that legislation at the time, but unfortunately the Liberal and Conservative parties overwhelmingly voted to defeat the bill.”
MacGregor said that after that vote, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould promised to follow up with new, government-initiated animal cruelty measures.
“Unfortunately, nearly a year and a half later, there are no new measures, and it appears those promises were just more empty rhetoric,” he said.
“Today, I am calling on Minister Wilson-Raybould to finally act to address these urgent concerns. We owe it to Teddy and other animals that are victims of abuse to make sure that nothing like this happens again.”
Pickard-Brown said that, judging from the response she is receiving on social media, she expects hundreds of people to show up for the peaceful protest at the court house on April 3.
She said the online petition has already seen more than 33,000 people sign from Canada and the U.S.
“We want justice for all animals, and we’re united as a community against animal abuse,” Pickard-Brown said.