The owner of a dog that was put down after it was found sexually abused near a school in Windsor, Ont., has been charged, in a case so shocking that it has the community in an uproar.
Anjalo Abeywickrema, 51, has been charged with one count of permitting unnecessary pain, injury or suffering to an animal.
City workers on Monday found the black Lab mix with severe genital injuries, lying in the grass on Louis Avenue near the back of Immaculate Conception Catholic Elementary School in downtown Windsor. The school is not far from Abeywickrema's house on Cataraqui Street.
The dog, named Tyson, was unable to move and in a lot of pain.
'It's OK to be angry, OK to be emotional. We're all upset. But let's take the positive and really make a movement with this.'—Tammy Deslauriers
Humane society veterinarians had to sedate the dog to treat it and later euthanized the otherwise-healthy animal.
Part of the police investigation included fingerprinting a condom and a bicycle inner tube used in the assault.
Police arrested Abeywickrema on Thursday. They said he had been given the dog by a friend a few months ago.
Accused convicted in 2005 death
Abeywickrema was on parole when he was arrested Thursday, but that parole has now been revoked, said Windsor police Sgt. Brett Corey.
Abeywickrema was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2007 and sentenced to seven years in prison in the 2005 stabbing death of Tomislav Cepo. He had been initially charged with murder.
Abeywickrema had lived with Cepo at a rooming house after Abeywickrema fled war-torn Sri Lanka and arrived in Canada 21 years ago.
During his trial, court heard that Tamil Tigers raided the village where Abeywickrema's wife and children lived and that he believes they were murdered.
Abeywickrema had been left permanently disabled after being attacked by muggers.
He is in police custody at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital with an undisclosed illness. His bail hearing has been set for Wednesday.
He faces what is known as a dual procedure offence, meaning that the maximum possible sentence for a conviction would depend on whether the Crown views the charge as a summary or an indictable offence.
If convicted, Abeywickrema could receive up to five years in a penitentiary or 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Community calls for punishment
Tips about the case began pouring in to police and Crime Stoppers almost immediately after the case became public on Tuesday.
Community reaction online quickly swelled a Facebook group dedicated to finding the abuser to more than 4,500 members in less than two days.
Walk for Animal Abuse Awareness
Saturday, May 15 at 12:00
Dieppe Gardens on Windsor Riverfront
Tammy Deslauriers started the group to get people talking about stiffer penalties for animal abusers.
"My dog was with me, and I just peered over at her — I was in a state of devastation," Deslauriers told CBC News.
"These poor, defenceless animals. How does this happen?"
While many of those chatting online expressed anger and hinted at vigilantism, Deslauriers has removed posts from people promoting vengeance.
"It's OK to be angry, OK to be emotional. We're all upset," she said. "But let's take the positive and really make a movement with this."
Deslauriers's group, which she named Windsor Dog Abuser Sought, has organized a march for animal rights for Saturday at noon at Dieppe Gardens on Windsor's riverfront.
Deslauriers is asking people to wear red and bring their pets along.