Emma Paulsen, the dog walker alleged to have dumped the bodies of six dogs in a ditch in Abbotsford, B.C., has been charged with six animal cruelty-related counts in connection with their deaths.
On Sunday, the B.C. SPCA said that Paulsen has been charged under the Criminal Code with killing or injuring an animal, causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, failing to provide the necessities of life to an animal and falsely reporting an offence.
Animal cruelty officer Marcie Moriarty said Paulsen is also facing two counts of causing an animal to continue to be under distress under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, a charge Moriarty said is precedent-setting because it has never been laid before in B.C.
"It's a preventative section — a duty of care that animal owners owe to pets and so we're quite excited about these charges and we'll wait to see what happens in court," she said.
When the dogs first went missing Paulsen initially reported they had been stolen from the back of her pickup truck.
She told police and the dogs' owners that she left her vehicle to use the washroom at a Langley dog park, and when she returned the dogs were gone.
That sparked a search by the dogs' owners and the Petsearchers.com agency, which was initially hired by the dog owners and Paulsen to find the missing pets.
Langley RCMP said in May that the animals apparently died while enclosed in Paulsen's vehicle, while it was parked in Richmond.
The B.C. SPCA took over the investigation shortly afterwards.