Montreal woman guilty of animal cruelty for leaving dog in hot car
In a precedent-setting case for animal rights, a Montreal woman has been found guilty of cruelty to an animal for leaving her dog in a hot car.
The dog Ares was left alone in a car on hot July day in 2011.
Marina Palakartcheva, 34, told the court during her trial that she had left some windows cracked open and was gone only half an hour.
Witnesses said it was longer.
A passerby walking his dog noticed the animal in the Toyota. The dog was lying on his side, breathing heavily with his tongue out. He called 911 and police immediately broke open the windows of the car. One officer who testified in court said the animal was so hot, he felt like a stove top.
The court heard how the dog was rushed to an emergency veterinary clinic where he received treatment but died anyhow.
Dr. Gisele Dery said the animal was essentially 'cooked to death.’
Judge Randall Richmond found Palakartcheva guilty of cruelty to an animal, a first for such a case in Quebec.
Richmond wrote in his decision, ‘In the heat of summer, you should never leave an animal alone in a vehicle. This should serve as an example of this.’
“I think it sends an important message, a deterrence to people leaving a dog in hot car that they actually should never be doing this,” said Alanna Devine, director of animal advocacy for the SPCA Montreal.
Devine said she knows of a similar guilty verdict in B.C. involving a dog walker who left six dogs to die in the heat, but never in Quebec.
She says it proves that intent doesn't have to be proven in order for there to be guilt.
“The Crown didn't need to demonstrate that she intended for the dog to suffer. What they need to show was recklessness and she was reckless in leaving dog in the car in that temperature and this is really, really important,” said Devine.
Palarkatcheva called CJAD News to defend herself on Wednesday, said the dog’s death was a devastating loss for her family, and that she would never abuse an animals. She said she left car windows open and parked in the shade.
She said she suspects Ares was sick at the time.
“It's impossible that it was the heat. I could not abandon an animal who was the brother of my son. It was my little son's dog," said Palarkatcheva, who is a mother of four.
Veterinarian Enid Styles disagrees.
“Negligence is obvious in this case. This person should have known and it's out there. We know that leaving dogs in cars for more than a couple of minutes, even, can be very dangerous in heat,” she said.
Palakartcheva now faces a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to 18 months in prison, though it is doubtful she'll receive either.