WATCH: Applause in a Surrey courtroom today as a judge sentenced disgraced dog walker Emma Paulsen to six months in jail. Rumina Daya outlines the extent of her sentence – and how the owners of the dogs are reacting today.
A dog walker accused of leaving six dogs to die in a hot truck last year has been sentenced to six months in jail.
Emma Paulsen has also been handed a lifetime ban on looking after other people’s animals and a ten-year ban on owning animals.
She was led away in handcuffs as the courtroom erupted in applause. Several dog owners whose pets died in the back of Paulsen’s pickup were present at today’s hearing, many breaking down in tears as the names of their dogs were read out in court.
“We are very relieved,” says Jennifer Myers, whose dog Buddy was one of the six dogs that died. “We can’t take away what they went through, but at least this shows that it was serious and the judge really took it that way. We are all really surprised.”
The owners of dogs that died in Paulsen’s care: (from left to right) Jennifer Myers, Colleen King and Paul Grant. Rumina Daya, Global News
The owners of dogs that died in Paulsen’s care: (from left to right) Jennifer Myers, Colleen King and Paul Grant.
Rumina Daya, Global News
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It is alleged Paulsen had left the six animals under her care in the back of her truck in May when she went into a store to run an errand.
When she returned, they had all died of apparent heatstroke.
Paulsen then panicked and allegedly concocted a story about the dogs being stolen, which led to an almost week-long search for the animals.
She has been charged with six offences under the Criminal Code of Canada and the BC Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in August. The charges included killing or injuring an animal, causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal, failing to provide adequate care to the dogs and mischief.
WATCH: Dog owners react to Emma Paulsen’s jail sentence
In November, she pleaded guilty to one count of animal cruelty and one count of public mischief.
BC SPCA has previously told Global News a case of this scope – both in terms of the charges and the type tragedy – hasn’t been seen before in Canada.
Crown was originally asking for six to twelve months jail on both counts. Defence wanted a conditional sentence.
Today, the court heard the dogs in Paulsen’s care died of heat stroke and suffered significant emotional stress.
Emotional state 2014: Paulsen’s father-in-law had died. Panic attacks. Drinking too much to cope. @GlobalBC pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训/tiNJomnqxv
— Rumina Daya (@rdayaglobal) January 28, 2015
The judge also heard that because of her emotional state, Paulsen had to give up custody of her two children and that she is now embroiled in family court proceedings.
READ MORE: ‘In 45 minutes she lost her best friends, lost her livelihood, and her good reputation’: dog walker’s mother
Other mitigating factors in Paulsen’s favour include no intent to kill, first-time offence, public condemnation and a guilty plea.
“In my view, this was distracted, thoughtless negligence,” noted the judge. “She failed in her duty.”
Among the four aggravating factors mentioned are Paulsen’s prolonged deception and cover-up, as well as being in a position of trust after working as a dog walker for seven years.
Paulsen did not wish to make any statements before the verdict was announced, something the dog owners took offence to. “The fact that she has never apologized to any of the owners is disgusting,” says Colleen King, whose dog Teemo died in Paulsen’s care. “In fact, she had an opportunity to address that today and chose not to. It really speaks to her character.”
Crown had suggested Paulsen be fined for her conduct and made to pay restitution to the dog owners, but the judge ruled against that.
With files from Amy Judd, Marlisse Silver Sweeney and Rumina Daya