Hillary Di Menna
The Victoria Day sun beckoned my five-year-old daughter and I to the park. While playing near the slide she was pushed over by a tongue-waging canine; looks like Bella was beckoned too. The kiddo laughed it off and the six-month-old puppy kept running with her owners, a family of three. The mother told me how the dog had been kept in a cage her whole life up until now. I’d be running around knocking people out of my way too if that were the case.
Bella and two other dogs were caged and kept in a basement. Bella’s back legs were weak and her paws had grown extra toes. You wouldn’t know Bella was a rescue dog now, carrying a large fallen tree branch with her teeth. Her tail was wagging, not between her legs. And her demeanor was friendly, newly accustomed to the family’s two-and-a-half year old son. Bella’s new owner told me she’d heard the original owner was taking out his anger on the dogs after he and his girlfriend split up. Not unlike the case of Queenie, a Cane Corso in New York. She was found starving to death in her home earlier this year. The abuser was a spiteful ex-husband, whose ex-wife thankfully saved the dog.
Dog abuse can also be caused by good intentions–if good intentions mean locking up 61 dogs in two windowless buildings, left to fight each other and live in their own waste. Their owner, Manitoban Peter Chernecki told news outlets that the dogs were strays he rescued from Gull Lake’s local landfill. He insists they were not malnourished, telling CBC News, “The dogs were all fed, they all had water. The dogs were in good shape. They weren’t starving, nothing like that.”
Even so, this September, he and his partner Judith will be sentencedafter pleading guilty to seven counts of animal under the Animal Care Act and Regulations. The Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer for Manitoba cites the distress-related charges on their Media Bulletin:
The couple will be facing a maximum penalty of six months in jail, a $5,000 fine, and a five year ban on dog ownership.
Even if Chernecki was telling the truth—that the dogs had food and water—every living thing needs more than that to survive. The conditions these animals were forced to live in left their fur matted with feces. When provincial officials rescued the dogs, the buildings were treated like a hazardous materials site. Neighbours would later tell the Toronto Star about a strange odour coming from the dwellings and the black flies surrounding the area.
These creatures are famously known to be our best friends, but they were overwhelming neglected. Over half of the animals were euthanized. The Winnipeg Humane Society saved some and others were sent to a U.S. dog shelter called Dog Town. Officials say the incident was a case of hoarding. Animal hoarding can be a result of OCD, addictions or attachment disorder. Whatever the case, 61 lives were abused and 34 of them didn’t survive it.