The owners of three dogs in Cross Lake, Man. who were found viciously abused — one with its muzzle taped shut — want justice for their pets.
On March 26, Freddie Sinclair let his six-month-old border collie cross Shadie out before bed.
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But when he called her, she didn't come back like usual.
He and his spouse Helen Beardy set out to look for her and couldn't find her. They went to bed, hoping she would turn up the next day.
Beardy was at work the next morning when she got a phone call from a carpenter who was working at a job site down the street from her house.
"He told her to come right away, because [her] puppy, her mouth is taped shut with packaging tape, and also her neck is taped up with electrical tape," said Sinclair.
In disbelief, Beardy rushed to the job site
"Oh, I was so upset,'' she said.
Shadie's muzzle was tightly wrapped with layers of tape. She had a gaping wound in her side. She was having trouble walking, and was suffering from several other injuries that weren't as visible.
"I was in a state of shock. I just kept yelling to those guys to take the tape off right away," said Beardy.
One of the men told her to take photos first so she could show RCMP, which she did, before he removed the tape.
"I've never been tortured but I can just only imagine what she went through all night," said Beardy.
"Horrible night. It really affected me very bad."
Helen phoned Freddie, who came and phoned the RCMP, and the vet in Thompson, who told them to bring Shadie in right away. The puppy spent four nights in care and underwent surgery for the wound on her torso once stable.
She also had a puncture hole by the stomach, wounds near her eye, nose and neck and a cut near her eye. The vet told Sinclair it appeared her tail had been pulled so hard it was almost "pulled out."
"She means a lot to us and to our family. She makes life complete. When this happened, we were not like something was not there. We were so down, and now we're slowly recovering."
Second puppy found abused
That same night, another puppy was taken from just a few houses away.
Bailey, a four-month-old husky, was being cared for by a neighbour while her family was in Winnipeg for spring break.
She disappeared from the neighbour's fenced yard, so he went looking for her. He found her beside her owner's porch the morning of March 27.
"She looked a little groggy, and a little puffed face," said Ivan Monias, who owns Bailey. The neighbour told him she couldn't walk without falling over.
"So it was a very big concern for us right away. So we got her on a plane and they flew her out to us."
The vet in Winnipeg told them Bailey had suffered blunt force trauma to the head, as well as broken vertebrae.
"She tried to make it look like she was trying to play around somewhat, when we seen her, but it wasn't Bailey," said Monias.
"She was very traumatized. But she knew who we were."
Third injured dog
On March 28, while Shadie was still in veterinary care, Helen Beardy came across another injured dog.
"It was the same place where my puppy was found. The same house. Two wounds on his neck, one on its mouth," she said.
The dog is owned by someone else on their street, she said.
"It was all blood all over."
She was immediately fearful that the person responsible was still out there.
"If this person is capable of doing this to animals, he could be capable of doing something to a human being,' said Beardy.
A spokesperson for the RCMP in Cross Lake says there is an ongoing investigation into the abuse of the three animals.
An animal protection officer is working with the RCMP, the vet in Thompson and community members on the investigation.
While RCMP can lay animal abuse charges under the Criminal Code, the animal protection officer can also lay charges under the province's Animal Care Act. However that only applies if the person responsible is over 18.
"The members on the case have been working hard, using their own time to help the dogs and connect with community members to investigate, said Craig De Le Ronde, the animal protection officer on the case.
He said one of the Cross Lake officers met him halfway on the road to Thompson to pass the bigger husky off so that he could take it to the vet. That dog is now up for adoption at the Thompson Humane Society.
"I'd like to thank the RCMP for their due diligence on working with the community on this case," he added.
Road to recovery
The dogs' owners are glad RCMP are taking the cases seriously.
"It's good, knowing that something's being done about what these dogs are going through right now," said Monias.
Though Bailey is recovering, she's no longer lively, he said, and hesitates to come now when she's called.
"I feel sorry for my dog. And I feel sorry for the people that have done this. Because they obviously need some kind of counselling. There's something wrong with somebody out there that's doing this to these dogs," he said.
His vet bill was $600 plus $60 for Bailey's flight.
Helen Beardy and Freddie Sinclair paid $1,000 for Shadie's treatment.
Both families are more concerned with their own dogs' recovery, and the safety of other dogs, than the financial burden.
"I want justice to be done. I don't know what this person is thinking. He might be thinking it's funny what he's doing but ... This is animal cruelty. It's not even funny at all. He's aiming at these little puppies," said Beardy.
"I want the person to be caught. I want justice to be done. I want justice to be done right away before a human is hurt."
Time will tell whether the puppies will make a full recovery. In the meantime, Monias wants to warn other dog owners in Cross Lake.
"Keep an eye on them. And be mindful of what's going on out there."