Affidavit tells different story about Yukon kennel owner's euthanized dogs

Shelley Cuthbert's affidavit says she gave four dogs to Yukon's Animal Health Unit last month, to comply with a court order. Another six, it says were returned to their previous owners. Earlier, Cuthbert said all 10 dogs died 'in my arms.'

Shelley Cuthbert of Tagish gave up 4 dogs to authorities last month, not 10 as she earlier claimed

Shelley Cuthbert is under a court order to shut down her kennel in Tagish, Yukon, and forfeit dozens of dogs to authorities over the coming months. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

Yukon kennel owner Shelley Cuthbert — whose animal rescue facility has been at the centre of a dispute with her Tagish neighbours — has filed an affidavit in court saying she surrendered just four dogs to officials last month, and not 10 as she earlier claimed.

Cuthbert is under a court order to forfeit all but two of her more than 50 dogs to territorial authorities over the coming months. She is required to hand over 10 each month to the Animal Health Unit, until May. The first batch of animals was due on Feb. 15.

The latest affidavit, filed Feb. 27 in the Yukon Court of Appeal, says Cuthbert gave four dogs to the Animal Health Unit last month. Another six, it says, were returned to their previous owners. Cuthbert maintains the animals had behavioural issues and could never be adopted out.

The affidavit also says that all 10 of those dogs were ultimately destroyed — but not all of them "in my arms," as Cuthbert insisted to CBC last month.

"The previous owners of six dogs stepped up so I would not have to be the one to euthanize their dogs," the affidavit reads. 

"I apologize to the courts for not handing over 10 dogs to Animal Health Unit to be euthanized. I felt it was reasonable to allow the original owners that honour of holding their dogs while they took their last breath.

"I did not release this information to the media and [her neighbours' lawyer] for confidentiality and privacy reasons. I felt it was more important to release the information to the courts."

Dogs 'sacrificed their lives'

Cuthbert's appeal of the original court order is expected to be heard in May.

In the meantime, she's asking the court to lift the requirement that she forfeit more dogs to the Animal Health Unit. She says she has "secured a temporary location to place the dogs while waiting for the appeal," the affidavit says.

It says the 10 dogs killed last month "sacrificed their lives to save the healthy dogs in hopes I do not have to make the decision to euthanize any more innocent dogs due to the orders."

"I am requesting this variance so I can ensure no more dogs lose their lives."

As the court order stands, Cuthbert must forfeit another 10 animals to authorities next week. 

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