What started as a normal sunny day in Langley, British Columbia, Canada on May 13, quickly turned into a heartbreaking saga for the whole community. Emma Paulsen, a popular dog sitter in the area collected her own pooch, Salty, and five more dogs for their daily walk in the park. The group would usually play and romp at the local Brookswood Dog Park, have fun and get plenty of exercise. By the end of the day, the six dogs were reported missing. Details of the event have led Paulsen, the dog sitter, to face serious charges for a gruesome mistake.
By her own account of the day, Paulsen claimed she had stopped to use the restroom and kept the six dogs locked in her truck for a few minutes. When she returned, the canopy of the truck bed was open and the dogs were gone. Shocked and saddened, she contacted the dogs’ owners and also the authorities. All six dogs had simply disappeared within a matter of moments, which led Paulsen to state she thought they had been stolen.
The six dogs were in Paulsen’s care on a regular basis and it seemed likely that they were either roaming free as a group or had been taken together. The missing dogs included Mia, a 15 month old Pit Bull, Teemo, a Poodle mix, six year old Oscar, a Rottweiler-Husky, Buddy, a Boston Terrier, Molly, a five year old German Shepherd and Salty, Paulsen’s own beloved mixed breed pooch. The owners of the dogs, other dog lovers, friends and concerned citizens joined forces to look for the vanished dogs.
It was a heartbreaking ordeal as search parties were formed and even Petsearchers, a detective agency, was called in to help. The dog owners were distraught, as was Paulsen, and within two days a Facebook page had been set up with the dogs’ photos and $2,800 had been raised to help with the search.
On May 15, a rally was held at the Brookswood Dog Park and was attended by hundreds in the community. Paulsen helped pass out flyers and was staying brave with the hopes of finding the dogs. Her story, however, was starting to unravel, as she was questioned further by investigators.
By May 18, Paulsen’s charade was over, as she broke down and confessed the truth of what really had happened to the dogs. She stated that she had stopped by a business on the way to the dog park. She had left water available for the dogs as well as opening a vent for fresh air. She said she had done this many times before, but the day the dogs went missing was unusually hot. Temperatures rose into the 80’s and Paulsen reported being inside the business for at least 45 minutes.
When she returned to her truck, all six dogs had suffered heatstroke and were dead. She panicked at the sight and the reality of having to tell the owners that their pet had perished. Paulsen then made the decision to drive 15 miles to nearby Abbotsford and simply dumped the dogs in a ditch. She returned to the dog park to alert authorities to the alleged theft of the six dogs.
Since then, Paulsen has been recommended by the British Columbia SPCA (Society for the Prevention Cruelty to Animals) to be brought up on animal cruelty charges. She is facing a $75,000 fine and two years in jail. Her motives and intent did not start out to be malicious towards the animals, but her careless negligence resulted in a gruesome outcome, claiming the lives of six healthy and happy dogs. Leaving a pet in a hot car for even ten minutes can result in brain damage or death.
As summer begins, this sad story should serve as a reminder and a way to help prevent the untimely death of a pet or a child who may be left in a hot vehicle. Paulsen will be facing charges for her actions as others hopefully learn a lesson from this gruesome mistake.
By: Roanne FitzGibbon