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Man who shot videos depicting alleged animal abuse in Sudbury wanted to 'raise awareness'

David Hache said he was stunned the first time he saw a couple he occasionally visited in Sudbury, Ont., hit their dog. He says that's why he made sure he turned on his phone's camera when he visited them earlier this week.

2 suspects have been charged with one count each of animal cruelty following release of Facebook tapes

David Hache recorded and uploaded two videos of an alleged animal abuse incident in Sudbury, Ont. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC )
David Hache said he was stunned the first time he saw a couple he occasionally visited in Sudbury, Ont., hit their dog. 

He said that is why he made sure he turned on his phone's camera when he visited them earlier this week.

"I was like next time I go in there, I'm going to get them," Hache said.

"I'm going to have my phone ready and I'm going to record them."

Hache captured two videos depicting alleged animal abuse and posted them to Facebook.

One appears to feature a woman singling out a white dog then beating it repeatedly in the snout. 

The other seems to show her smearing feces in the animal's face.
Greater Sudbury Police released this photo of Chico, the dog allegedly abused in circulating social media videos. (Supplied)

'Freaked right out when she was hitting the dog'

Hache told CBC the couple's cat food was missing, which prompted the woman in the videos to blame a dog named Chico. 

The dog can be heard whimpering on tape.

Hache said Chico tried to hide behind him, but the woman told the animal to move and she started to punch it. 

"I accidentally stopped the video with my shirt because I kind of freaked right out when she was hitting the dog," Hache said.

"I had to start a new video. That's when I got them shoving crap in the dog's mouth."

This is not the first time Hache said he's witnessed an alleged attack.

Hache estimates he saw the couple beat their dog twice before. 

Receiving threats, praise

He said he tried to confront the couple, but they kept trying to justify their actions, saying Chico would not listen to their orders. 

Previously, Hache said he also saw one of the couple's three kittens bleeding from the nose, and wondered what happened. 

Since the videos were uploaded to Facebook, Hache said he has received praise and some threats.

But he said his goal was to "raise awareness."

Greater Sudbury Police arrested two suspects, an 18-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man, on Wednesday after they turned themselves in following the publication of the videos.
Three kittens were taken from the home of two people who were charged with one count of causing unnecessary suffering each. (Greater Sudbury Police Service)

The suspects are confirmed to be the same people in the tapes, but their names have not been released publicly. 

Each of them has been charged with one count of animal cruelty. 

"I was disgusted," Steven Lashbrook said.

"I treat my dogs like they're my babies, and I just can't comprehend how someone can do that to a dog."

'You're not getting your dog back'

Lashbrook said he knows the two suspects and Chico from play dates they have had with his own pets.

He said one of the owners dropped off Chico at his house on Wednesday because "something was up."

Lashbrook said he realized what had happened when he came across the videos of alleged abuse on Facebook.

"I immediately told him I'm calling the police and you're not getting your dog back," Lashbrook said.

"No wonder you [he] didn't want to tell me why you [he] needed to come see me about the dog."
Steven Lashbrook used to take his dog on play dates with Chico — the dog who was allegedly abused in Facebook videos. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Lashbrook said he has not been able to watch the entire videos. 

"I just couldn't handle it," Lashbrook said.

"Knowing the dog, knowing the people, knowing the situation. It's just feeling responsible almost because you didn't know."

'How can you sit there with an animal crying?'

Another Sudbury resident, Miranda McColman, said she also reported the videos to police on Wednesday when they appeared on her Facebook feed. 

"I physically actually started shaking when I saw it," McColman said.

"There were so many things that went through my mind ... most of all, how can you sit there with an animal crying and continue to do that?"
Greater Sudbury Police posted this photo of the other dog, which was taken into professional care following the videos depicting alleged animal abuse. (Greater Sudbury Police Service)
McColman said she would like to see these videos result in more awareness for animal abuse and rights.

She said she is pleased, however, by the number of people who spoke out about the incident on social media. 

"I think our community acted pretty fast on it," McColman said.

"I'm really proud of Sudburians. I really think everybody came together for a dog that really needed it."

'Sweetest dog I've ever met'

The suspects are scheduled to make their first court appearance on July 19. 

They are not allowed to possess or be in control of any animals, and have alcohol or drugs, according to Greater Sudbury Police spokesperson Kaitlyn Dunn. 

Three kittens and two dogs, including Chico, were seized by police and are now in professional care. 

Dunn added the animals are healthy and will not be euthanized. 

Lashbrook hopes Chico will find a new home soon. 

"He's literally the sweetest dog I've ever met," Lashbrook said.

"Any one who adopts him is going to want to give him the best, I hope."

About the Author

Olivia Stefanovich

Reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a network reporter for CBC News based in Toronto. She previously worked in Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @CBCOlivia. Send story ideas to olivia.stefanovich@cbc.ca.