R v Paulsen, 2015 BCPC 204679-1

Emma Paulsen owned a dog walking business for 7 years. On May 13th, 2014 Paulsen reported to the RCMP that six dogs had been stolen out of the back of her pickup truck while she was in the washroom at a dog park in Langley. An intensive search and investigation was conducted and resources were used from the RCMP, Animal Control and Pet Searchers Canada, including members of the public. It was not until May 19th, 2014 that Paulsen confessed to Pet Searchers Canada that the dogs had perished in the back of her truck while she was shopping and she had transported the bodies to Chilliwack and left them in a ditch. With this new information, the BC SPCA began an investigation into Paulsen and found that all 6 dogs had perished as a result of heat stroke, one of which belonged to Paulsen.

Although this case was deemed accidental, Paulsen pleaded guilty.

This case is significant as it is one of the few cases in which the accused is convicted of, and receives a strong sentence for, leaving an animal in a hot vehicle. It was also the charge under the (relatively) new section 9.1(1) which creates a positive duty on the part of an owner to protect an animal from a situation that is likely to cause an animal to be in distress (eg. leaving a dog in a car on a hot day).

Mitigating factors include: Paulsen did not intend to harm the dog; Paulsen’s mental state at the time in question; Paulsen is a first-time offender.

Aggravating factors include: Paulsen’s behaviour was more than mere negligence; Paulsen’s six days of deception toward law enforcement, the media, the BCSPCA, and the owners of the deceased dogs; Paulsen did not apologize or express remorse and tried to cover up her wrongdoing.