Woman pleads guilty in dog deaths

The woman who left six dogs to die in a hot truck and then claimed they had been stolen has been pleaded guilty to two charges.

Emma Paulsen, a former dog walker, appeared in Surrey Provincial Court Wednesday morning and pleaded guilty to one charge under the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and one charge of public mischief for falsely reporting a crime.

She will be sentenced on Jan. 21.

Aside from entering her guilty plea, Paulsen did not say anything during her brief appearance in a courtroom crowded with the owners of several of the dead dogs.

Paulsen, a dog walker from Delta, had been in charge of six dogs including one of her own on May 13 this year. 

She initially called the Langley RCMP to claim that she had walked the dogs at a park in Brookswood, then put them in the canopy-covered back of her pickup and gone to use the washroom.

When she returned, she claimed the dogs had vanished.

She later admitted that the dogs had died after being left in the back of the truck on a warm day in Richmond. Investigators found the dogs in a ditch in Abbotsford.

According to Crown counsel spokesperson Gordon Comer, the maximum sentence under a summary conviction for Paulsen’s Cruelty to Animals Act conviction is six months in jail. He would not say exactly what sentence the Crown is likely to seek.

It’s difficult to find a similar case to determine what an average sentence for such a crime would be, Comer said.

“This is truly a quite unique set of circumstances,” he said outside the courthouse.

Paul Grant, owner of Oscar, one of the dogs that died in Paulsen’s truck, watched the guilty plea.

“It’s just another step right now,” Grant said. “I’m looking forward to the final one in the hope that she sees a little bit of justice.”

Every time he attends one of the hearings, it takes a little bit of time to get over the feelings it brings up, Grant said.

Oscar was a rescue dog, and Grant initially came out to the searches around Brookswood and to a rally the week they went missing, in the hopes of getting the family companion back.

But by the second day, there were suspicions among the dog owners, he said.

“Once we’d had time to stop and think about the whole process, it didn’t seem right,” he said.

The family got Oscar from the Richmond Animal Shelter, and Grant said the family has decided to adopt a new dog, also a rescue, named Trevor.

“He’s helping heal us at the same time that he gets his forever home,” said Grant.

Before the January sentencing, there may be a chance for dog owners to give victim impact statements, according to Comer.

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