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CONCERNED ABOUT ANIMALS’ WELFARE – Shelly Cuthbert, the owner and operator of Any Domesticated Animal Rescue and Boarding Kennels, fears many of her dogs may eventually be euthanized.

Court grants partial stay of dogs injunction

The owner of a Tagish dog rescue has been given more time to get rid of 53 dogs currently in her care.

By Emily Blake on January 25, 2018

The owner of a Tagish dog rescue has been given more time to get rid of 53 dogs currently in her care.

Following a four-day trial last October, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower granted an injunction in the case.

It required Shelly Cuthbert, the owner and operator of Any Domesticated Animal Rescue and Boarding Kennels, to reduce the number of dogs on her property to two by Feb. 11, 2018.

Gower found that the noise from barking dogs is a nuisance to six property owners in the Tagish Estates rural residential neighbourhood.

On Wednesday afternoon, Justice John James Lyon Hunter, representing the Yukon Court of Appeal, granted a partial stay of that injunction.

He noted that in the three months since Gower’s decision, the number of dogs at the rescue has only been reduced to 55.

“On present trajectory, it seems clear that she will not be compliant with the trial order by Feb. 11, 2018,” Hunter said.

He did not, however, grant Cuthbert’s application for a complete stay of the injunction before her appeal can be heard in May.

For the court to order the stay of an injunction, he explained, the applicant must prove their appeal has merit and that they will suffer irreparable harm if it is not granted.

Hunter agreed that Cuthbert’s concern that many of her dogs will have to be euthanized constitutes irreparable harm. However, he found “no merit” in her appeal.

Cuthbert’s grounds for appeal include claims that Gower did not ensure she understood the proceedings against her, nor invite her to make submissions on a remedy.

She also argues there were “serious problems” with his treatment of the evidence.

She says the injunction is “completely out of proportion to what is necessary to ensure that the nuisance is abated.”

Hunter said Wednesday, “It may be that by the time this appeal is perfected, one of these arguments will be seen to have more merit, although without the assistance of counsel, I consider that most unlikely.”

Cuthbert is self-represented on appeal, as she was during trial.

She says she is now being assisted “in the background” by a friend with legal knowledge.

Although Hunter found Cuthbert did not meet the two-part test to grant a stay, he said it was not in the interest of justice to dismiss it completely.

He considered submissions by Graham Lang, the lawyer representing the six neighbours, on conditions for a partial stay.

Lang had told the court his clients aren’t opposed to a partial stay as long as it’s based on a “real effort” by Cuthbert to respond to the nuisance finding and begin reducing the number of dogs on her property.

Hunter found while all of the conditions proposed by Lang may not be acceptable to Cuthbert, they are “reasonable in the circumstances.”

He also noted they are the only basis for which he is prepared to issue a stay. Otherwise, Cuthbert will be in breach of the injunction.

Under the new ruling, beginning Feb. 1, Cuthbert will be required to surrender 10 dogs by the 15th of each month to the Yukon government’s Animal Health Unit, subject to the number of dogs it will accept.

This will continue until the number of dogs on the property has been pared to 10 or until the appeal can be heard.

Cuthbert must also stop accepting dogs into her care.

She must keep all dogs indoors at night between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. to prevent her neighbours from being awakened by barking.

If Cuthbert does not comply with these new conditions, Hunter ruled, her neighbours may apply to rescind the partial stay.

Cuthbert had expressed concern that appropriate homes will not be found for all the dogs she must surrender, and that they will be euthenized.

She also said seven of her dogs stay outside 24/7 as they don’t do well indoors and don’t mix well with her other dogs.

Finally, she was concerned about being prevented from taking animals in, as she has a dog catching contract with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation.

Comments (7)

Up 1 Down 2

ProScience Greenie on Jan 30, 2018 at 2:24 pm

That many dogs on that little lot surrounded by close neighbors is beyond crazy. So yes, when she didn't stop at a say 25 dogs she became a hoarder. And yes, she did it all on her own.

There was nothing stopping her after 25 dogs from putting her place up for sale and looking for a more suitable location and even looking for government / NGO funding. Again, that she didn't do this is her decision and her's only.

Don't for a second think that I hate dogs or have no sympathy for them. I love dogs and that's why I am very critical of her and her choices that created this mess. It's also why I suggest one option is to limit her on how many dogs she can own in the future. One of the things about animal hoarding is that the hoarders heart is so full of love for the animals that their brains turn pretty much completely off. Not good.

Up 2 Down 1

Yukon Watchdog on Jan 30, 2018 at 9:22 am

@ PSG. Textbook animal hoarder? You're kidding, right? Let's give Cuthbert some appreciation for trying to fix that which the community of Tagish and the Gov haven't. Completely disagree with your comment that it is her fault and no one else's. I am so disgusted with the thought of what is going to happen to all those poor dogs. If it weren't for Cuthbert, the same thing that is happening in Ross River (in today's paper!) would be happening in Tagish. Give your head a shake.

Up 3 Down 5

north_of_60 on Jan 26, 2018 at 1:39 pm

Cuthbert's Dog Rescue Ranch exists because our society ignores and condones animal abuse. That abuse is never punished to an extent that sends a clear message that animal abuse is not acceptable in our society.
Dogs become 'un-adoptable' because they've been abused by humans, often children. Dogs are smart and quickly learn not to trust people that hurt them, especially nasty little people who enjoy tormenting animals. Of course dogs will be come defensive and growl or snap at someone who looks like those who have hurt them before. Children who are allowed to abuse animals grow-up to be adults who abuse animals and humans, and thus the cycle perpetuates. Nobody wants to adopt a dog that growls at kids as a warning to stay away.
Dogs are happy playful pack animals and Cuthbert tries to give them a good life away from abusive humans.
When Cuthbert moved to Tagish her lot was isolated and there wasn't a significant problem from her dogs. Over the years the local population has grown, and so has the number of dogs at the ranch. Many of those people bought property and then realized they didn't want to live next to a dog ranch. Some of those people are affluent outsiders who only live there seasonally and can afford lawyers to change the world to suit their whims. There's also evidence that some people have tormented the dogs to make the noise problem worse and gain community support.
The Yukon government gives people land for hobby farms [aka. agriculture leases] so there's no good reason that the government can't give Cuthbert a piece of land in an isolated area where her dogs won't upset sensitive neighbors. The government could also assist her with relocation. Animal abuse is not going to stop, and the government should retain Cuthbert's services to give abused animals a place to live out their short lives. Surely that's the least they can do to let Cuthbert and her dogs live a happy peaceful life away from meddlesome and abusive humans. That's all she and her dogs really want.

Up 4 Down 2

Too attached on Jan 26, 2018 at 9:06 am

I just don't know how she can handle 60 unadoptable dogs that have behavioural issues and there never seem to be fights to the death when some days I can't handle my 2 that are well behaved but territorial over food.

I think they are unadoptable because she grew too attached to them. I would too and that's why I don't go near rescues or shelters. It's not for everyone.

I just worry about the fates of these dogs. They're the ones who are going to ultimately suffer. It's sad.

Up 3 Down 1

Max Mack on Jan 25, 2018 at 6:22 pm

It is really regrettable that Ms. Cuthbert did not hire a lawyer - she will continue to lose without legal representation. Turning over the dogs to YTG means that the dogs will be euthanized. This is not a win for anybody.

@ProScience Greenie
Textbook animal hoarder? You're kidding, right? Animal hoarding looks nothing like what Cuthbert is doing. And volunteer at the animal shelter? You mean Mae Bachur? You obviously don't understand the relationship between Cuthbert and Mae Bachur.

Up 7 Down 2

Deal with your dogs on Jan 25, 2018 at 3:43 pm

She must deal with her dogs. Enough already! Find somewhere totally isolated and away from people to live, or live respectfully with your neighbours. You are lucky to have neighbours who didn't take matters into their own hands. There is property on the Alaska Highway going both directions where you won't have any neighbours. Putting people through the noise and stink of that many dogs constitutes insane thinking. I can't stand it when there's 3-4 dogs in the neighbourhood causing a bunch of noise and pooping/chasing people. Imagine if it were 80 barking like crazy!

Up 7 Down 3

ProScience Greenie on Jan 25, 2018 at 3:19 pm

Textbook animal hoarder by the looks of it. Cuthbert can go volunteer at the animal shelter all she wants but she should have a lifetime ban on owning more than one dog. Her fault nobody else's.

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