Animal rights activists in Canada are outraged. A British Columbian dog walker left six of dogs in her parked truck for 45 minutes on a hot day – and needless to say they all perished from heatstroke. At this time, no criminal charges have been filed.
The woman, Emma Paulsen, first told the distraught owners, local police and the media that someone had stolen all of the dogs while she was in the bathroom at the dog park. Her report resulted in a massive search for the missing dogs — Buddy, Teemo, Oscar, Mia, Salty and Molly — also now known as the Brookswood 6, which included pleas on social media to help track down the dogs.
In reality, the dog walker made the grave error of patronizing a store for almost an hour while the dogs cooked in the hot vehicle. When she discovered her error, she panicked, disposed of the dead dogs and then concocted the story that they had been stolen. But guilt apparently got the best of her and she came clean to private investigators hired by the the distressed owners to find the missing dogs.
Paulsen’s mother who was interviewed by Global News, said her daughter is devastated as she adored animals and had grown up with them. “In 45 minutes she lost her best friends, lost her livelihood, and her good reputation.” According to her mother, Emma had seven years experience as a dog walker and had wanted to do this job for the rest of her life. “It’s a catastrophic tragedy she will regret for the rest of her life.”
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police recovered the six dead dogs and said that since they were still investigating no charges had yet been filed. The SPCA, which is also involved in the investigation, will recommend that authorities pursue animal cruelty charges, but Canadian prosecutors have the authority to make the final decision.
On a Facebook page, The Brookswood 6, dedicated to the deceased dogs, owners posted that memorial services would be held for their pets. “These dogs were our worlds and now we are all devastated and heartbroken. I am not sure if we will ever truly mend from this,” wrote Jenn Myers Ortner, who lost her beloved black and white Boston terrier, Buddy. “The tears just won’t stop.”
On the website of the hired private investigator, Petsearchers Canada, the case of the Brookswood 6 is listed as RESOLVED — and they kindly ask readers who comment on the story to please remember that the owners of these pups will be reading the comments and that “support and love will go much farther than venting anger at this time.” They also compassionately added the following about Emma:
“Emma knows that many will not understand and that there will be lots of anger. Though the details of her private life do not excuse what has happened, she had recently stopped taking medication for panic attacks due to the side effects and was under a great amount of pressure regarding personal family issues. She herself still doesn’t understand why she did what she did.
There were no witnesses to what happened and as a single mom dealing with many major stresses in her life, Emma was very fearful of the consequences of coming forward. Though the whole situation is difficult to grasp, we are thankful that she was brave enough to come forward and provide the families involved with the opportunity for closure and take responsibility for what has happened.”
I agree with the investigators at Petsearchers Canada, that compassion, love and support for everyone involved will allow the healing that is now necessary to commence. Please heed this advice in the comment section below. The world needs more love and compassion than hate and anger.
Next page – Tips on hiring a dog walker, plus a video of what happens when you’re locked in a hot car
Many people do not realize how quickly an animal (or a child) can become overheated in a parked car. Even in 70 degree weather, if the windows are rolled up and the car is parked in the direct sun, an animal or child can quickly perish. The same is true for hotter days, even when the car is parked in the shade. Sadly, some owners of pets do not discover this truth until it is too late. “I was only in the store for 20 minutes…” is a tearful phrase heard all too often by authorities investigating animal cruelty cases.
Watch this video of a vet describe what it is like to be locked in a parked car on a hot day – from his first-hand experience.
The tragic story of the Brookswood 6 also suggests that there are important questions owners should ask any potential dog walker before entrusting their beloved pet with that person. Walks N Wags, a Canadian pet first aid company, offers sage advice on this subject. Here are three critical questions that should be asked of any professional dog-walker, but rarely are:
1. Are you licensed/insured/bonded? May I have proof?
2. Can you provide me with references?
3. How will my dog be handled and transported?
Ideally, dog owners should ask many of the same questions parents ask of prospective childcare providers.
So, as summer heats up across the Northern hemisphere, please remind friends and family how dangerous parked cars are for unattended pets — and if you see an animal in a car on a warm or humid day who you believe may be in trouble, follow this advice of SPCA:
First, ask nearby stores to page customers. If the dog is in distress call our Animal Cruelty Hotline at 1 (855) 6BC SPCA (1-855-622-7722). The call center is open seven days per week: Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If it is an animal emergency outside of these hours, please contact your local animal control or police. Your actions could save a life.