Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19750
Classification: Beating, Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Monday, Jul 16, 2012

Disposition: Alleged
Case Images: 1 files available

Alleged: Brian Whitlock

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

The SPCA is recommending charges to crown counsel against the owner of a German Shepherd found in a dumpster.

Brian Whitlock was taken into police custody today Wednesday on unrelated charges. Police are not saying what those charges are.

'Captain', two years old, was found badly beaten and died of his injuries.

The story of Captain produced an outpouring of support online, and a local radio station raised more than $65,000 in donations for animal cruelty investigations.

Case Updates

The death of Captain, a two-year old German shepherd found bloody and dying in a Vancouver dumpster two weeks ago, has captivated people near and far.

The story made news across the country, while local residents reached into their pockets to raise more than $74,000 for the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' animal cruelty division. A vigil was also held in Captain's honour.

Now, details emerging about Brian Whitlock -- the man identified by the B.C. SPCA in court documents as Captain's owner -- are raising questions about the role of an owner's mental health in animal abandonment or cruelty cases.

Captain died one day after the B.C. SPCA rescued him from a Kitsilano dumpster where he lay badly beaten. The underweight dog had lacerations on his head and neck and was unable to walk. According to court documents, a Vancouver Police Department constable found a knife, baseball bat, heavy chain and piles of animal feces in Mr. Whitlock's home. He had only had the dog for about two months.

The documents also revealed Mr. Whitlock's mother "confirmed her son was having some mental-health issues."

Neither Mr. Whitlock nor his mother could be reached for comment.

Marcie Moriarty, the general manager of cruelty investigations for the B.C. SPCA, said the society investigates a few cases a year where the owner has a mental disorder. She said their biggest challenge is with chronic hoarders, who sometimes keep their animals in shocking conditions.

"We've been in cases where there's dead animals rotting on a counter top," Ms. Moriarty said. "The feces " human and animal -- inches thick, covering the entire place. Animals stacked in crates -- one on top of the other -- multiple to a crate."

Edward Taylor, the director of the University of British Columbia's Okanagan School of Social Work, studies violence and mental illness. Only a small number of people with mental illness will be cruel to people or animals, he said. Some schizophrenic people can have hallucinations urging them to be violent or can develop an addiction to violent behaviour, he said.

"Many things can bring us pleasure," Dr. Taylor said. "[They can think] that it is exciting to capture the animal, hurt the animal."

The anxiety and depression that is often a part of mental illness can cause owners to neglect their pets, he added.

On social media, people have been quick to brand Captain's owner a villain, captioning his photo on the Facebook page for the dog's vigil "killer." Other commenters have called for vigilante justice. While some have heard claims the owner may have mental-health issues, little sympathy is in evidence.

The B.C. SPCA launched an investigation assisted by the VPD into Captain's death and recommended charges against Captain's owner last week. Crown counsel still has to approve the charges of causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal. If convicted, the owner could serve a maximum of five years in prison and never be allowed to own animals.

In cases where the owner has a mental illness, said Ms. Moriarty of the B.C. SPCA, the society will still recommend charges, but will try to get the person some help to prevent them from re-offending.

She said she is hopeful the Crown will make a decision about the recommended charges within the next two weeks.
Source: The Globe and Mail - July 31, 2012
Update posted on Aug 1, 2012 - 1:41AM 
A man identified as Brian Whitlock, owner of the young German shepherd found severely abused, bolted from reporters after being released from police custody Thursday.

Whitlock lit a cigarette as he left the Vancouver Provincial court jail around 5:30 p.m. after being detained Wednesday for charges of criminal harassment unrelated to the dog incident.

He refused to answer questions from the media before he ran down the block.

He is scheduled to reappear in court Aug. 9.

"We have not yet received a report requesting charges [about Captain]," prosecutor Kathryn Ford said Thursday in B.C. Provincial Court in Vancouver.

The B.C. SPCA is still investigating the dog's death.

However, Ford understands the B.C. SPCA is currently working on the case.

Whitlock's dog was found July 18 in a Kitsilano Dumpster, wrapped in a bloody sheet, and died the following day after going into cardiac arrest.

A search warrant filed by the B.C. SPCA and obtained by The Province revealed Captain's injuries, included extensive hemorrhaging, swelling, puncture wounds, multiple cuts and profuse diarrhea.

Police gained entry to Whitlock's apartment on July 20 where they found a Swiss Army knife in the windowsill, a large link chain, a baseball bat and multiple piles of dog feces.

The warrant application also included a copy of an email from a shaken resident, indicating at least one other person in the building suspected something was wrong. After Captain was discovered, the man emailed SPCA to share sounds he had heard coming from Whitlock's apartment the night before the dog was found.

"I heard a really loud fast banging. It sounded like something metal hitting wood, very fast and very hard, like someone was in a rage beating against something," the resident said, noting the owner was often spotted walking the dog using a chain as both a collar and leash.

"The sound of that beating will never leave my head," he wrote.
Source: The Province - July 27, 2012
Update posted on Aug 1, 2012 - 1:40AM 


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