Former Kamloops dog groomer given conditional sentence on animal cruelty charge - InfoNews

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Former Kamloops dog groomer given conditional sentence on animal cruelty charge

July 19, 2019 - 1:00 PM

KAMLOOPS — A former Kamloops pet groomer who admitted to hitting her customer’s dog out of frustration has been handed a two-month conditional sentence order by a Kamloops provincial court judge.

Nelda Stocking, 64, was the owner and groomer of A.B.C. Pet Grooming for roughly 20 years in Aberdeen. The business was recently sold to a different owner with no affiliation or connection to Stocking.

Stocking pleaded guilty to one count of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal on March 7 — the day her trial was set to begin.

Stocking’s lawyer Daniel McNamee describes his client as an "animal-lover" and says Stocking was grooming a difficult dog on Feb. 2, 2018, that caused her to get frustrated, leading to the charge.

“The dog had bit Ms. Stocking as she was trying to groom it,” McNamee said in court yesterday, July 18. “I understand… from Ms. Stocking that the dog had actually drawn a small amount of blood in biting Ms. Stocking.”

Crown prosecutor Alexandra Janse says the dog was a ten-pound 16-year-old Papillion-poodle mix owned by complainant Darren Bergeron.

Bergeron had dropped off his dog, Bailey, at A.B.C. Pet Grooming last February 2018 for a grooming appointment. When he returned early to pick up her up, Bergeron witnessed Stocking being rough with his pet and began videotaping the incident, Janse said.

The short recording showed the dog being lifted by the collar and leash, and shows Stocking's hand in the short clip but does not show the contact. Bergeron says the recording ended abruptly when he put his cellphone in his pocket to help his dog, according to his police statement.

A veterinarian provided an expert witness report which stated the dog needed pain control medication for bruising and lesions suffered around the animal’s neck after the incident. The dog did fully recover.

McNamee says his client admits to hitting the dog on the butt to discipline it but the injuries caused to the animal's neck were from the dog jumping off the grooming table while attached by the collar.

Following her conditional sentence order, Stocking will be placed on probation for ten months and will also face an animal prohibition that will bar her from owning, possessing or residing in the same residence of an animal or bird for five years.

The exception to the animal ban is she will get to keep the animals she currently owns which includes 13 cats, six dogs and five chickens.

The conditional sentence means she will be serving her jail sentence in the community under certain conditions and must follow a curfew to remain in her residence from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Part of her jail sentence includes completing anger management counselling. She will also be subject to random checks from the B.C. SPCA. 

Defence counsel was seeking a conditional discharge followed by 12 months of probation saying Stocking had to give up her business after she was charged. McNamee said her client's reputation had taken a hit after media coverage about her case became public.

McNamee says a criminal record would hinder Stocking's opportunity to get a new job since she is no longer able to be self-employed and could potentially restrict her ability to travel once she retires. Stocking has since found new employment as a housekeeper at a lodge.

Judge Stephen Harrison says seeking employment and wanting to travel were not strong enough reasons to grant a conditional discharge, stating she has already found employment. He also notes her guilty plea came late and Stocking was working in a position of trust and let her customer down. He also added there needed to be a deterrent value to the public, especially to other dog groomers who must work with difficult animals without harming them.

Stocking apologized when asked to speak.

"I would like to say I am very sorry I hit the dog. My hands were bleeding and no matter what I did it still kept wanting to chew me and I thought if swat it on the bum it would behave itself but it didn’t. I am very sorry that I did that," she said.

Stocking faces another charge of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal which she has pleaded not guilty to.

Crown prosecutors have three witnesses, and lawyers will meet in August to set a date for trial.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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