Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Emma Paulsen 6 dogs died from heat stroke

Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

May 13, 2014  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
    6 dogs Alleged 9/9/14

The bodies of six dogs initially reported stolen from the back of a dog walker’s truck were found dumped in a ditch in Abbotsford, B.C., says a spokesperson for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Lorie Chortyk said the agency transferred the bodies to a lab for necropsie.The results are expected within the week, and will be included in a report to Crown counsel, which will determine if animal cruelty charges should be laid.

According to Langley RCMP, the dogs died in in the back of the truck from heat stroke the same day they were reported stolen by the dog walker Emma Paulsen. The temperature was as high as 25 C May 13, when the dog walker left the dogs, including one of her own, in her truck.
Animals don't have sweat glands and can be overcome with heat exhaustion, brain damage or even death in as little as 10 minutes because the temperature in a car can rise so quickly, even on an overcast day, Chortyk said. "We really do want to warn people that leaving windows open, leaving water, that is not going to help the situation. If an animal's in a hot car you've put them in danger."

Composite image of dogs that had been reported stolen from a Langley, B.C. dog-walker's truck.

Photo courtesy of CTV News Vancouver

Last week, Paulsen told police she had left her truck briefly to use the washroom, and that the dogs were gone when she returned. She said the back canopy of the truck had been unlatched.

“We now believe the dogs perished after having been left in the back of a vehicle while the dog walker went into a business and they perished in the heat," Cpl. Holly Marks stated. Marks said she believes Paulsen realized that the dogs were dead when she returned to her truck.

“The dog walker did not surrender to police but we have spoken with her and at this point we’ve been able to recover the bodies,” said Marks.

According to a statement posted to Petsearchers Canada’s website, Paulsen admitted to them that she had initially said the dogs had been stolen -- a story she made up in a “complete state of shock and panic,” said Petsearchers Canada. The organization, hired by the owners of the missing pets, said Paulsen had told them the dogs were in the back of her truck with the side vents open. “Nonetheless it was a very hot day and they perished,” said Petsearchers Canada spokesman Al MacLellan. MacLellan said he approached Paulsen to let know her know he “suspected that things weren’t as described,” and told her she needed to go to the police station.

The RCMP have not yet laid charges, but are now looking into a possible charge of public mischief. Meanwhile, the SPCA have taken over a second investigation for the alleged mistreatment of the dogs, and RCMP say they will assist that effort.

Marcie Moriarty of the B.C. SPCA says she will consider charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act or the Criminal Code.
Under B.C. legislation, animal cruelty has a maximum penalty of $75,000 or two years in jail, while those charged under the Criminal Code face up to a $5,000 fine and 18 months behind bars.

“Six dogs allegedly dying in a hot car -- every summer I talk about dogs in hot cars and you know what -- it’s one of those topics that boils my blood,” Moriarty stated. “It should not happen.”

Update 5/21/14:
Somehow, the story of a dog walker who said six dogs were stolen from her truck just didn't add up for Alesha McLelland and her husband Al McLelland.

Police said the woman told them she'd left the animals for a few minutes to use the washroom at a park in Langley, B.C. and when she returned the dogs were gone.

The dog walker told police she spent hours looking for the animals and dreaded the thought of telling their owners they were missing, RCMP said.

Six days later, the McLellands, who run the dog-tracking company Petsearchers Canada, said they came to their own conclusion -- one they hoped wouldn't be true. Alesha McLelland said that her husband called the woman they had already spoken with and asked if she'd meet for coffee. That's when, she said, Al McLelland heard a different account of what happened. The dog walker told Al McLelland that after she discovered the dogs dead in her vehicle she had a panic attack and disposed of the animals, Alesha McLelland said. "We had suspected there was something more to the story so we weren't shocked, but I will say we were disappointed," she said. "We had hoped that there was a chance that if something bad had happened that there would maybe be one or two or three of them stashed somewhere. We were hoping the story wouldn't be as tragic as it really was."

No charges have been laid against the dog walker. RCMP said they were investigating the woman on possible public mischief charges, and the SPCA is looking at potential animal-cruelty charges.

Alesha McLelland said the dog walker was very upset.

The bodies of the six dogs were found dumped in a ditch in Abbotsford, B.C., the SPCA said. Police said it was believed the six animals died in the back of the vehicle in the heat of the day.

McLelland said the woman had been walking at least one of the dogs for several years and that all the owners have had to deal with a double blow.
"They're understandably very angry, very hurt, and shocked that this could happen. Not only the fact that their dogs met their demise in the vehicle but what happened the week after, that it was dragged out for as long as it was and causing a lot more pain than necessary."

Others, who'd banded together to look for the dogs, feel duped. "So many people, initially upon the initial report coming out, invested time and effort into helping look for the dogs and coming to the rally. We had people drive from Chilliwack to Vancouver to pick up posters to put in their neighborhoods, believing that the dogs had been stolen," McLelland said of the community that's about an hour-and-half drive from the city.
"A lot of people started to care about these dogs and so finding out that all of that effort and worry and caring that they'd had over the last week ... people are understandably upset."

Lorie Chortyk of the SPCA, which took over the investigation after retrieving the dogs's bodies, said the results of necropsies are expected within a week and will determine how long the dogs were left in a vehicle. The necropsy results, along with interviews with the dog walker and any witnesses, will be part of the SPCA's report to Crown counsel, which will decide if animal-cruelty charges will be laid.

Update 5/26/14:
The SPCA is recommending that animal cruelty charges be laid Emma Paulsen

Marcie Moriarty, the SPCA's chief prevention and enforcement officer in B.C., says they are still completing their investigation, but there was enough evidence for a recommendation of separate criminal charges including cruelty and neglect of animals.

Moriarty says the SPCA will be submitting its full report to Crown counsel as quickly as possible. B.C. Mounties said last week they were also investigating the woman for possible public mischief charges.

Update 6/1/14:
Hundreds of animal lovers attended a memorial walk to remember six dogs that died in May after being left in a dog walker’s truck.
Emma Paulsen first said the dogs had been stolen or let out of the vehicle. But after a massive search, the dogs, dubbed the Brookswood Six, were found dead. They had allegedly been dumped in a ditch in Abbotsford.

Photo of Emma Paulsen courtesy of CTV Vancouver

The SPCA said there is evidence the dogs died of heatstroke and is recommending Paulsen be charged with six separate animal cruelty charges.
Marcie Moriarty, the SPCA chief prevention and enforcement officer, said the scope of this incident is unprecedented in her experience. “I’ve never seen an instance that involved the particulars that are involved in the case,” Moriarty said. “Including the fact that six dogs died, that they were in the care of somebody who was hired to provide them with exercise and I would suggest that the recklessness resulted in their death.” “I think they should throw the book at her,” said Barbara Brintnell who attended the walk to honor the dogs. “To think those people went through all the heartbreak, all in the hope that their dogs could be found and then to find out what an end they had. It’s terrible,” she said.

Jennifer Myers’ dog Buddy was one of the six that died. She said she still goes to the dog park to visit other dogs. “I know this was one of Buddy's favorites spots to come for a walk and since we love dogs so much we thought, ‘let’s come here and spend time with other people's dogs.’”

Update 8/10/14:
The dog walker who initially said six dogs in her care were 'stolen' but later confessed they had died of heat exhaustion has been charged with animal cruelty and other charges.

Court documents show Emma Paulsen has been charged with killing or injuring to animals, committing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, failing to provide the necessities of life for an animal, two counts of causing an animal to continue to be in distress, and reporting an offence was committed when it was not.

The BC SPCA has been investigating the emotionally charged case since the beginning and recommended the charges. "We urge people to keep their emotions in check. It's hard but we all want to see this case proceed. What happens next is she goes through an appearance where she pleads guilty, which then goes to sentencing or if she pleads not guilty, then we will proceed to a trial," said BC SPCA spokesperson Marcie Moriarty.

Owners of the six dogs are happy to see the charges laid, saying it's a step in the right direction but doesn't make the situation any better. "If there ever will be be closure, I don't know because I know they suffered and that's the part that to this day I still get sad about. I don't think that'll ever go away," said Jennifer Myers, owner of Buddy a Boston terrier that was killed.


CTV Vancouver the Canadian Press