Former Humane Society volunteer pleads guilty to animal neglect

Nicholas, a Rottweiler-Lab mix, is making a full recovery. His owners, including a former Humane Society volunteer, were fined $1,000 each.

Dog found 'emaciated' and filthy in couple's Crapaud apartment

Christian Gauthier has been ordered to own no pets for the next 10 years. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Warning: This story contains details and images that some people may find disturbing.

Two Islanders — one of whom used to volunteer with the PEI Humane Society — were fined $1,000 each Friday in Charlottetown Provincial Court for neglecting their pet dog.

Nicholas, a Rottweiller-Lab mix, was seized by Humane Society officials from the couple's apartment in Crapaud, P.E.I., in April.

The dog was underweight and malnourished, with an infected, open wound on its shoulder, and with dried feces in its food dish and in its fur, according to investigators.

Christian Gauthier, 27, and her former live-in partner, Christopher Wayne Gallant, 37, both wept in court as they pleaded guilty to a charge under the Companion Animals Protection Act. Criminal charges of animal cruelty were stayed.

Christopher Gallant leaves Charlottetown Provincial Court on September 1, 2017. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

'She should have known better'

According to facts presented in court, Gauthier had formerly volunteered with the PEI Humane Society.

"She should have known better," said Crown prosecutor Jeffery MacDonald. "She has seen animals in distress."

MacDonald said Gauthier told police about her past involvement as a humane society volunteer when they interviewed her after seizing the dog.

Nicholas was injured, underweight and malnourished when found in this crate in by PEI Humane Society officials on April 11, 2017, in an apartment in Crapaud. (PEI Humane Society)

The Humane Society was called to the couple's apartment April 11, after a local real estate agent was in the building that day with a client and happened to see the dog.

Gauthier wasn't a volunteer with the Humane Society at the time of the seizure.

The animal was taken to the Atlantic Veterinary College for examination, and later to the Humane Society's animal shelter.

Couple couldn't afford vet: defence

According to facts presented in court, veterinarians described Nicholas as "very emaciated" with a very low body-condition score.

Defence lawyer Yolande Murphy told court the couple had little money and felt they could not afford the cost of veterinary care.

Nicholas receives food while in care of PEI Humane Society on April 11, 2017. (PEI Humane Society)

Gallant stood up and told court the dog belonged primarily to Gauthier, but that it was his fault they didn't take it to a vet, because he was working long hours and needed to earn more money.

The judge brushed that explanation aside.

"If you can't afford to keep a dog, you shouldn't have a dog. It's as simple as that," said judge Nancy Orr. "It defies comprehension that you couldn't see the dog needed care."

$1K fine, 10 year ban on owning pets

In addition to the $1,000 fines, Gauthier and Gallant are forbidden from owning pets for 10 years.

They also have to pay the Humane Society $2,678.55 for the care Nicholas received.

Court heard Gallant owes $72,000 in unpaid fines and restitution orders, stemming from criminal convictions over the past 15 years.

The dog is now recovering in foster care, under the supervision of the PEI Humane Society.