RCMP have begun an investigation after a dog was discovered dead in Fort Resolution. There is a disagreement over the level of care provided to 10 dogs on the lot.
A representative of Hay River’s animal shelter, who drove to Fort Resolution after the NWT SPCA received a call expressing concern for the dogs’ welfare, described the deceased dog as a “really upsetting sight.”
“It was totally emaciated, the ribs were sticking out,” shelter manager Kori Bourne said. (A photo of the dog was provided to Cabin Radio. The image can be viewed here. Readers should be aware the image may cause distress.)
While some dogs on the lot appeared to be healthy, others acted as though they had not eaten for days, Bourne told Cabin Radio.
“It smelled horrendous,” she said. “Some of them didn’t even have bowls. They didn’t have fresh water. Nothing.”
Cpl Dan Doucet, Fort Resolution’s RCMP detachment commander, confirmed one dog had been found dead.
“The Fort Resolution RCMP did receive a complaint relating to these dogs and an investigation is ongoing,” Doucet stated by email on Friday.
“We are working with NWT SPCA and the Hamlet of Fort Resolution to provide ongoing care to the animals and work towards a permanent solution for them.”
The NWT SPCA said food bags had been dispatched to help provide for the animals.
Speaking on Thursday, a resident of the same street – who asked not to be identified to discuss a sensitive subject – said the deceased dog had been “sitting there since I got home on Sunday.”
“These dogs have not been fed or watered,” they said.
“This is a really bad situation,” said Bourne. She told Cabin Radio RCMP had advised her the shelter was not in a legal position to remove the animals from the lot. Instead, food and water had been taken to the dogs.
Owner, carer dispute health concern
Liza Beaulieu, identified as the owner of the dogs, told Cabin Radio by phone she left the dogs in the care of an acquaintance while she spent time away from the community.
“They were all there when I left,” Beaulieu said of the 10 dogs who live on the lot. “Everything was good.”
Beaulieu said she had not been told a dog had died on the property. She said a neighbour had spent years “obsessed with those dogs” and had filed a number of complaints.
Beaulieu said the dogs had been in the care of a resident named Gary Lafferty.
Reached by phone on Friday, Lafferty initially said he was unaware a dog had died. He said he had not been contacted by RCMP.
“She only had 10 dogs there and there’s still 10 dogs,” Lafferty said. “They’re healthy. I didn’t see any dead dogs.”
Lafferty said he had been sure to visit the dogs daily, feeding them two to three fish each.
“There’s all kinds of food there,” he said.
However, having visited the lot after that initial phone call, Lafferty responded by text to confirm a dog had passed away.
“I just discovered the dog myself,” he wrote. “The dog was 10 years old. Idk how he would have died.”
Lafferty, who apologized for not noticing the deceased dog, sent photos of other dogs at the lot. He said those dogs were “all healthy looking.”
“Seems like the dog died of old age,” he wrote of the deceased dog.
Bourne said several dogs appeared to have detached themselves from leashes or chains and were running loose when she arrived at the lot.
“They still had a little bit of a chain or rope hanging off their collars. They didn’t look that bad, emaciated or anything,” she said of the loose dogs.
“The RCMP officer was saying they had broken off their chains and were running around. They were probably getting food, scrounging wherever they can.
“The other dogs, when I got to them? The first dog didn’t look too bad. In the backyard, that’s where I saw the other dogs. You can tell that they’re really hungry and obviously haven’t been fed in the last couple of days.”
Bourne and the NWT SPCA said they were awaiting information from RCMP regarding next steps.
The welfare of dogs has been raised previously in Fort Resolution.
In May 2018, NNSL reported the NWT SPCA’s concern for “close to 25 dogs living in poor conditions” in the community. At the time, the lot and owner were not specified.
The NWT Dog Act orders owners to ensure dogs have adequate food and water. No owner in the NWT is allowed to cause or permit a dog to be in distress.
Under the law, an officer is entitled to “take any action he or she considers necessary to locate the dog and relieve its distress, including taking custody of the dog in accordance with the regulations and taking reasonable measures to arrange for necessary transportation, food, water, shelter and veterinary care.”