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|Judge(s):|| Mary Jane Richards| CONVICTED: Was justice served?
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Wednesday, Dec 24, 2008
» Tanya Lovely
» Terry Lovely
A Durham Bridge couple that left a dog tied up on a vacant property by itself for weeks was found guilty of an animal-neglect charge in provincial court Thursday [Nov 5, 2009].
However, Terry and Tanya Lovely don't have to pay a penalty, as the judge waived the $500 minimum fine.
The Lovelys stood trial Thursday on a Dec. 24 charge of failing to provide an animal with food, water, shelter and care.
The court heard the Lovelys left their dog Damien, a Rottweiler/pit bull mix, on their property at 145 Upper Durham Rd. after their old mini-home was removed from the lot and while they waited for their new mini-home to be delivered.
The Lovelys had been staying with a family member in the interim, they said, and there was no room at the small house for the dog.
They said they visited the lot twice daily for the two or three weeks the dog was left there on its own, chained near its dog house.
They said they fed and watered the dog every day and cared for it.
However, an anonymous call to animal-protection officers on Christmas Eve prompted an officer to visit the site.
Animal-protection officer Kevin MacBeth said it appeared the dog had been abandoned, as there was no food or water in any area the dog could access.
"The driveway wasn't plowed," he said, and the only structure on the property other than the dog house was a shed.
He said the dog had sores on its feet, and he later noticed an infection on its tail.
MacBeth seized the dog and left a seizure order on the door of the shed, which listed a phone number the owners could call to arrange for the return of the dog.
He said they didn't call the number until Christmas Day, and he didn't speak with them until Dec. 26.
When he told them it would cost about $400 in boarding and vet fees for the dog to be returned, Tanya Lovely refused.
"She said the SPCA had just bought themselves a dog and for me not to come on her property," MacBeth testified.
He said laying the animal-neglect charge after the Lovelys refused to pay the fees was at his discretion.
Terry Lovely said he begged with animal-protection officials to allow them to set up a payment plan, but they refused.
That's when his wife told them they'd "bought the dog."
The Lovelys denied allegations Damien had no food and water.
"His food was sitting right there ... That dog was fed better than half the kids in Fredericton," Terry Lovely said on the witness stand, wiping tears from his face.
"They took our dog for no reason ... He was like our baby ... He was my puppy. I wanted him back."
The Lovelys said they were planning on bringing the dog to their temporary home the evening of Dec. 24, but when they arrived to take it home, they discovered the dog was gone.
Terry Lovely said he called the number on the seizure order repeatedly from Dec. 24-26 before getting a call back.
Damien has since been placed in another home.
Judge Mary Jane Richards said she believed the Lovelys were tending to the dog daily, feeding him and providing water.
However, she said she found that their decision to leave him alone for weeks on the site amounted to a failure to provide proper care and found the couple guilty of that aspect of the charge.
The Lovelys said money is tight, and the judge noted they couldn't afford the $400 in fees to get Damien back, so they couldn't afford the higher fine either.
Richards waived the fine, noting they've lost the dog, suggesting the lesson had been learned.
She warned the Lovelys that if they can't afford proper care for a dog, they shouldn't own one.