North Okanagan woman fined under cruelty act for tying elastic band around dog’s scrotum - InfoNews

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North Okanagan woman fined under cruelty act for tying elastic band around dog’s scrotum

Doggy daycare operator Shalah Nelson admitted to tying an elastic band on a dog's scrotum to make it leave her property in December 2016.
Image Credit: Facebook
May 30, 2018 - 12:36 PM

SALMON ARM - The owner of a dog boarding and training facility in the North Okanagan was handed a $1,000 fine in Salmon Arm court this week for tying an elastic band around a dog’s testicles.

Shalah Nelson was initially charged under the criminal code with injuring an animal and causing unnecessary pain or suffering, but eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing an animal to continue to be in distress, a violation under B.C.’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and not a criminal offence.

Nelson, who owns the doggy daycare and boarding facility K9 Instinct Adventures, admitted to using the elastic in an effort to make the dog leave her property in December of 2016. The judge sentenced her to a 12 month probation order and $1,000 fine.

She was not banned from owning or caring for animals.

In an interview, Nelson says she regrets what happened and never meant to hurt the dog.

“It was a misjudgement on my place,” Nelson says. “If I could, I would do it differently. I apologize completely.”

She says she didn’t know what else to do after the dog, which she says was intact (not neutered), showed up at her property and wouldn’t leave. Concerned about the risks of an intact and possibly unvaccinated dog in the vicinity of her kennel and her family, she says she was desperate to get it off her property. She contacted the SPCA, dog control and rescues but did not receive any immediate assistance, she says, adding that she also contacted some nearby neighbours without success.

“This dog was a nuisance to my business and to my family. I don’t trust intact males and especially… strange dogs,” she says.

After roughly one week, she says she had to “take things into her own hands” and used the elastic band to make the dog feel unwelcome on her property.

“It’s just an old method, and telling the dog… it’s an undesired place for it to be, just not trying to cause pain, but just to let it know, ‘oh ok I get this feeling if I come here’ that’s it. It’s… just an old method that works. Not that I’ve done it before but I didn’t know what else to do to get it to go.”

NOT ACCEPTABLE AND NOT LEGAL: SPCA

Marcy Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the B.C. SPCA, says says such a method should never be used.

“At no time is it appropriate to inflict pain on an animal,” Moriarty says.

She says the SPCA has heard of elastics being used in home neuters — roughly one case per year and mostly in rural areas where access to vet care is limited — but says she’s never heard of them being used to make a dog feel unwelcome.

She says the “method” is extremely painful for an animal.

“You only have to ask any of your male readers what it would feel like to have a rubber band tied around their scrotum,” she says.

Other options for dealing with the dog might have included containing it in a kennel until the owner could be found or dog control responded.

“Ideally, and given she apparently has a business boarding dogs, she should have some skills to humanely deal with this,” Moriarty says.

While pleased that the RCMP pursued charges in the case, Moriarty is surprised there was no ban on owning or caring for animals and says it’s a case of “public beware” for prospective dog owners thinking of enlisting Nelson’s services — even though the dog in question was not a client’s pet.

“Her actions to me put into question her ability to care for dogs properly if she thought that was the only method. I would be concerned as a member of the public to select her,” Moriarty says.

There are currently no specific regulations in B.C. for dog boarding facilities, Moriarty says, only municipal bylaws and overarching animal cruelty laws. It’s up to owners themselves to do their due diligence and ask plenty of questions about training styles before leaving their dog at a kennel.

“I NEVER THOUGHT IT WAS CONSIDERED CRUELTY”

Nelson insists she never intended to be cruel; she just wanted the dog to leave.

“I had no idea it would go this far. I never ever thought it was considered cruelty, ever,” she says.

Her lawyer, Julian van der Walle, says many people would likely be surprised at what falls under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

“Distress is defined in the act so broadly in my opinion that if you left your dog at home for three hours without a water dish, arguably that could be a regulatory offence,” van der Walle says. “That’s how minor your actions can be under this section.”

Under the Act, an animal is considered in distress if it is injured, sick in pain or suffering, neglected or abused, kept in unsanitary conditions, not protected from heat or cold, or deprived of adequate food, water, shelter, light or vet care.

“I think some people would be surprised to know how little it takes, you really have to be careful,” van der Walle says.

Nelson provided to the court roughly 50 reference letters from clients over her 16 years in the industry in support of her case, and insists this was a lapse in judgement and not a technique she would use on a client’s dog.

“Lots of people speak highly of her,” van der Walle says.

Nelson says she has already paid the fine and hopes to put the incident behind her.


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