VANCOUVER - Almost five months after Captain the German shepherd was found in a Vancouver dumpster, bloodied, bruised and crying in pain, the dog's alleged owner has been charged with animal cruelty, says the SPCA.
Brian Whitlock, 26, is scheduled to appear in Vancouver provincial court Dec. 7 on the Criminal Code charge of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal, said Lorie Chortyk, a spokeswoman for the British Columbia SPCA.
The dog died July 19, one day after being admitted to care, suffering from lacerations and massive bruising to its head and body.
Captain's death prompted protests and even a vigil against animal cruelty at an off-leash dog beach in Vancouver.
Chortyk said they received emails and telephone messages from thousands of people across North America who were outraged over the brutal attack.
"I think we were just very, very relieved and pleased that the charges were finally approved," said Chortyk. "This is a very serious case, and we just really hope that the courts do take it as seriously as we do."
Chortyk said an SPCA constable was called to Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood July 18 after residents, hearing cries escaping from the dumpster, found Captain wrapped in a bloody blanket.
She said the SPCA rushed the barely conscious Captain to emergency veterinary help, and the dog received around-the-clock care.
"His injuries were just too serious and he died of cardiac arrest," said Chortyk, noting followup tests showed Captain also suffered from neurological and spinal damage and would it have become a quadriplegic.
Chortyk said Whitlock owned Captain.
Information on the case was forwarded to Crown prosecutors not long after Captain's death, said Chortyk, and the SPCA made its final additions to the case Oct. 11.
She said as a puppy Captain was being trained as a police dog but washed out of the program because he was just too gentle and lacked the necessary aggression.
She said Captain was moved to a private home and then ended up with Whitlock.
His final resting place is the same SPCA cemetery in Penticton, B.C., that holds the remains of 56 sled dogs that were slaughtered after the 2010 Winter Olympics.
If convicted, Whitlock could face five years in jail, a $75,000 fine and a lifetime ban on owning or having custody of an animal.
Chortyk said the BC SPCA investigates 7,000 cases of animal cruelty every year.
"Unfortunately, we see cases like this all the time," she said. "To us it's just so sad when we see animals that are victims of violence and abuse, and situations that really should never happen to a vulnerable animal."