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Shelley Cuthbert

Suit called vexatious as dog owner readies for move

The owner of the Tagish Dog Kennel has decided to file a $1-million defamation lawsuit against her neighbours.

By Gord Fortin on June 8, 2018

The owner of the Tagish Dog Kennel has decided to file a $1-million defamation lawsuit against her neighbours.

Shelley Cuthbert filed her lawsuit on Monday against neighbours Stefan and Ursula Angerer, Leopold and Edeltraud Selinger, Gerry McGraw, Stefan Landfried, Emerald Gillespie, Anne Middler and Lisa Gallant.

Cuthbert claims that the neighbours defamed her character on social media, in the local media and started rumours in the community.

She said the alleged slander has destroyed her reputation and caused emotional distress. She gave examples that the neighbours said her property is smelly and she is not home to supervise the dogs for up to 20 hours per day.

Cuthbert claims her neighbours harassed her and destroyed some of her personal property, by videotaping and photographing the dogs. Damage was also done to her fencing.

She last alleges trespassing by Stefan Angerer, who, she claims, has known since 2013 that his fence posts are on her property and has not removed them.

She is seeking $500,000 for the destruction of her reputation, property damage, emotional distress and the pain and suffering of the dogs.

Next is $200,000 for lost economic value of her business and $200,000 for loss of property value that was a result of the permanent injunction levied against her.

For the trespassing, she is seeking $100,000, bringing the total to $1 million.

She also wants her legal costs to be paid and a public apology issued.

Cuthbert’s case was before Yukon Supreme Court yesterday, but the lawsuit was not discussed.

The neighbours’ lawyer, Graham Lang, advised the court that he is looking for Cuthbert to co-operate with efforts to remove the dogs from her property to be put in shelters.

The RCMP and the territorial government’s Animal Control Unit will be part of the inspection. Failure to co-operate would land Cuthbert in civil contempt of court.

Lang explained that if found in contempt, Cuthbert would be arrested and detained rather than just being fined.

He argued that without co-operation, the only option would be to detain her and settle the matter. The court could have issued a fine instead, but he didn’t feel that would have worked.

“It is very clear Mrs. Cuthbert is in contempt,” Lang said.

He said it should be no surprise to Cuthbert that she could be found in contempt after not following court orders. The court order was to keep only two dogs as pets and not have any additional dogs on her property. Her two dogs must be kept inside from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Lang said she took in more dogs and didn’t stop operations. She also told media that she would not comply. He felt these were hitting all the points for contempt.

Cuthbert, who appeared in court by phone, asked Justice Leigh Gower if she was being found in contempt.

Gower said not at this point, and told Lang that this notice was filed last Monday, and she had not received seven days’ notice.

Lang told Gower that he wants to know if Cuthbert will now co-operate with the court order to only have two dogs on her property and wind down her operation in Tagish. He asked the court to put this matter over to next Tuesday to deal with possible contempt of court. He said that on Tuesday, seven days would have passed.

“This situation remains difficult for the neighbours,” Lang said.

He explained that the plan is to inspect her property and see the surrender of as many dogs as possible.

Lang said if Cuthbert was found in contempt, she would be arrested and detailed. He added that the Animal Health Unit wants her to co-operate. Officials want to see her helping at the front gate, and hope this situation does not escalate, as they felt it’s already volatile.

Lang said the court is at a crossroads. Cuthbert has been provided many options to co-operate but has refused.

This refusal has forced the courts to set the table for more drastic actions. He added that the neighbours are willing to work with Cuthbert provided she co-operates.

Gower asked how many dogs could go to the shelters, adding he has heard the limit is 10.

Lang said he hopes that with the help of the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter, more dogs can be taken off the property. He said that it would still take time to wind down Cuthbert’s kennel.

Gower asked what would happen after next Tuesday. Lang said if Cuthbert co-operates, he would put over his applications for contempt.

There will be assessment made and another inspection of the property will be set up.

He estimated that Cuthbert has between 40 and 60 dogs on her property and that she would need two to three months to unwind operations.

He said each of these dogs would need to be assessed and the adoptable ones need to be placed in homes. He said they don’t know what to expect.

“We are operating in the dark,” he said.

Cuthbert said she will be moving all the dogs to another property at an unspecified location. She will live on this new property and build a new kennel there.

“I am the one that will remove them,” Cuthbert said.

Gower said Cuthbert may not understand that she has breached a court order.

Cuthbert said that all dogs will be gone from the property by Monday. She explained she is not trying to be unco-operative, but is concerned about surrendering the dogs to shelters.

Gower explained that this plan is good, but if a dog is found on the property next Tuesday, she will be arrested. Cuthbert said that’s fine, because she and the dogs will all be gone.

Lang later told reporters he does not expect Cuthbert to have a solution to the issue. He felt her plan will be acceptable provided that the dogs are removed.

He added that her plan will be beneficial because the neighbours won’t be responsible for shutting down the kennel and removing the dogs.

“We’re all off the hook,” he said.

Lang conceded this benefit to his clients could be a detriment to people living around Cuthbert’s next property, but hopes that is not the case.

“It is our hope sincerely that Ms. Cuthbert finds a place to safely house the dogs away from neighbours in such a way not to cause a nuisance,” he said.

Lang said he has had no contact with Cuthbert. He sent her a letter last week requesting that she wind down her operation, but did not hear back from her until she filed her lawsuit.

Lang said he did not know the suit was coming. He called the charges frivolous and vexatious because she is questioning statements made in court that turned out to be true.

He expects the court will throw it out during the first instance, and believes it’s a collateral attack on the court order.

“She is going to have difficulty pursuing that line of attack against her neighbours,” he said.

Lang hopes she drops the lawsuit if her plan to move the kennel succeeds. If she does, everyone can move on and go their separate ways, he said.

The matter will be back in court Tuesday to review the contempt order, with Cuthbert again attending by phone. There will be a case management conference regarding her lawsuit on July 24.

Comments (12)

Up 0 Down 6

YukonMax on Jun 13, 2018 at 8:13 am

Mental Health assistance in the communities from YG is non existent. My own community has had the last mental health worker visit over a year ago. But Hey... Far from the eyes...

Up 15 Down 3

Xander on Jun 12, 2018 at 4:17 pm

Has she moved yet? It's Tuesday. If not she's in contempt of court.
Also those defending her, really give your head a shake. Who in their right mind hoards (yes, 80 dogs is hoarding) this many animals.

The smell of the dog s**t alone would make me ill. The noise would drive me insane. She's lucky the neighbors did not take matters into their own hands, I would have, 2+ years of this insanity, really?

How dare she take on all these dogs, then bitch, whine and complain how everyone is doing her wrong. Please.
You want to care for dogs? Fantastic. Do it in an industrial area like the current shelter in Whitehorse where noise is not an issue, or do it far away (kilometers) from your nearest neighbor. If she would have done that in the first place, there would have been zero issues.

I'm amazed that zoning allowed having that amount of animals in a residential area as well.
The fact that this is still not done is a complete farce.

Up 13 Down 2

Tnk on Jun 12, 2018 at 4:07 pm

Just to add seriously if she manages to drag her hoard of dogs to another location it's insane. It will be the same issue in another area but will definitely resolve the problem. Instead it would just allow her to collect more. The simple fact is she has way to many dogs, and her collecting what she call dangerous animals, and housing even more will just make the issue even bigger. It's pretty clear she can't really help these animals just store them indefinitely with an unhealthy attachment unlike actual rescues where they don't become obsessively attached to the animals because their goal is to re home them and not keep the animals forever.

Up 13 Down 3

Tnk on Jun 12, 2018 at 3:53 pm

This is ridiculous. It's literally never going to end. If she faces the facts, no one would need to defame her or make fake claims. There are enough real ones. Furthermore, the fact that they have proved multiple times over in court that what she is doing causes her neighbors to be unable to enjoy or live on their properties that they own in peace, it's been proven she already lost that case. And not to mention the fact that she is simply a hoarder who is not benefiting these animals. The fact that she won't release them to the other proper rescuers, no matter how many times she loses in court, just proves that she is nothing more than a hoarder who does not deserve sympathy. It's just disgusting. She's trying to sue her neighbors after they already won their case. I can't believe it if they allow her to waste more time and listen to her again.

Up 7 Down 22

Max Mack on Jun 11, 2018 at 3:19 pm

Good to see the buddies in the legal system are still actively backing each other up. Of course her suit will be thrown out. That is the inevitable outcome of the Yukon's so-called justice system.

I certainly hope Cuthbert can move her dogs and make a fresh start before the "justice system" sticks it to her and destroys her dogs.

Shame on YTG for sitting on its hands and not offering to help Cuthbert move to a better location. Shame on all the so-called animal lovers who are ok with dozens of dogs being euthanized -- all because Ms. Cuthbert doesn't win popularity contests.

Up 10 Down 5

Just Sayin' on Jun 11, 2018 at 2:19 pm

I think everyone should focus on the case at hand. Slander is real. People these days cannot go around stating things as if they are fact, without evidence.

Up 17 Down 2

Patricia O'Brien on Jun 11, 2018 at 8:09 am

In a way I feel sorry for Shelly as she seems to feel responsible for all these dogs and she is attached to them beyond what is healthy. In fact, it is the fault of irresponsible dog owners who neglected and then abandoned all these dogs. Now they are not just dogs, they are dogs with histories of biting, aggression and behavioural issues. And there are dozens of them together in one small place.
I am afraid of dogs from being attacked several times as a child. This situation is a regular Stephen King version of horror for me. Shelly seems so alone with all these dangerous animals and I hope to God nothing goes wrong but the Yukon has seen animals pack and kill before.
I feel sorry for her neighbours, the dogs and Shelly. Sorry the Court had to intervene but I feel Justice made a realistic assessment of the situation and brought down a reasonable and fair Order for Shelly to abide by, in the best interests of all concerned.
I'm sorry some of these dogs will have to be put down but I will sleep better. So will everyone.

Up 11 Down 20

drum on Jun 9, 2018 at 6:05 pm

So all people living in Tagish and the surrounding area are only allowed to have two dogs. Or is it just Shelley decided by the judge. Who polices the other residents of Tagish with regards to how many dogs they have???

Up 7 Down 10

drum on Jun 9, 2018 at 5:59 pm

If Lang gets her jailed who is going to look after the dogs?

Up 25 Down 3

I only care about the dogs on Jun 8, 2018 at 10:25 pm

I, for one, had my own opinions about this woman before this case. It had to do with her actions and attitude when she ran the Humane Society. I’m not sure how this case will help her situation. Good luck to her, but mostly to the defenseless dogs.

I would happily adopt one of these dogs if I knew I could but seems you can’t unless you pass her tests so I would never bother.

Up 34 Down 5

Steven on Jun 8, 2018 at 5:22 pm

It's about time this wraps up. Even so, she's *still* in contempt of court, as she's *still* not abiding by the court's decision. By removing herself from the situation and property, it's a "solution"... but it still delivers a giant F-you to the Courts.

Up 28 Down 8

Adam Leckie on Jun 8, 2018 at 5:18 pm

I’ve been watching the case since October
This incredible the woman had more the 40 dogs. If I lived next to her I’d be taking her to court too. The racket and noise this many animals would make would be beyond acceptable.

She’s desperate & she’s out of money (if she had money should would have hired a lawyer to defend herself during the proceedings) and the media has only talked about the facts of the case.

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