Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
The Yukon Humane Society’s executive director is speaking out to clear up misunderstandings about the organization’s involvement with court proceedings against a Tagish animal rescue.
Dan Moore took to the organization’s Facebook page Monday to address public questions and concerns about the court order against Shelley Cuthbert, who owns and operates Any Domesticated Animal Rescue and Boarding Kennels.
Moore told the Star he wants to clarify that the humane society was not involved in the court proceedings and that it’s prepared to accept dogs from the rescue.
“There was confusion with the public as to why, if her rescue had that many animals, we weren’t we stepping in, why wasn’t she bringing them to us,” Moore explained.
“We were more than willing to help; we help out any other community in town,” he added.
In January, Yukon Court of Appeal Justice John J.L. Hunter granted a partial stay of a Yukon Supreme Court injunction that would have required Cuthbert to remove 53 dogs from her property by Feb. 11, 2018.
Under the new order, Cuthbert was required to surrender 10 dogs on the 15th of each month to the Yukon government’s Animal Health Unit.
They would assess the dogs and ideally place them with the humane society for rehoming.
But according to Cuthbert, on Feb. 15, she had 10 dogs euthanized on her property and they died in her arms.
She told the Star last week she made the decision to have the dogs euthanized in her care as they don’t meet criteria for adoption.
None of her dogs are good with small children, she said, and some have difficulties with other animals, bite histories or medical conditions.
“I was backed into a corner, so I had no choice,” Cuthbert said. “I don’t want to see my dogs be euthanized but I have run out of options.”
Mary Vanderkop, the chief veterinary officer with the AHU, said she could not discuss the specific case with the Star nor confirm the euthanasia for privacy reasons.
But she said there are no set criteria for determining whether dogs are acceptable for re-homing, it’s on a case-by-case basis and the unit largely relies on information from owners.
Moore said he doesn’t know the specifics about the dogs at the Tagish rescue, but said the humane society does have avenues for dealing with difficult or aggressive dogs.
That includes Yukon-based trainers and foster homes as well as connections to four animal rescue operations in the South.
“We have channels that we work with down south in specialized shelters that deal with aggressive animals,” he said.
Last year, Moore noted, four dogs with fear aggression issues were sent to southern organizations. They were all rehabilitated and re-homed.
He said it would be a very rare instance of severe aggression that the organization would not accept an animal; he has never had a case in his two-year stead as executive director.
But he noted that he has a responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter and wouldn’t take an animal if it was “too far gone.”
The humane society operates a no-kill shelter, meaning there is no time limit for how long animals can stay in their care. Moore said animals will be euthanized in cases involving illness or a severe injury.
The society says it has re-homed more than 600 animals in the past year.
Moore said it was unfortunate that 10 dogs were euthanized but that he can’t speak to Cuthbert’s decisions or concerns.
“This shouldn’t be an issue of ego or personal agendas; this should be about the animals,” he said.
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