Yukon kennel owner ignores court order to surrender dogs

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The dogs will go, says Yukon kennel owner as court battle escalates

Shelley Cuthbert, whose dog kennel in Tagish, Yukon, has been at the centre of a long legal battle, admits that she's defying a court order to shut down her facility.

Cuthbert was ordered last year to forfeit all but two of her dogs to territorial authorities, after her neighbours sued. They argued the facility, which had more than 50 dogs, was a major disturbance.

Cuthbert was later granted more time to surrender the dogs to territorial authorities. She was told to turn over 10 dogs on the 15th of each month, until she was left with two.

But almost a week after the last deadline — April 15 — Cuthbert said she's ignoring the order.

"I did not hand over dogs," she wrote in a Facebook message to a CBC reporter. "Sorry but I cannot do that to dogs that are healthy, happy and have been assessed by trainers, vets, and myself."

Cuthbert did not turn over any animals on March 15, either. In February, she told CBC she had euthanized 10 animals to comply with the court order, but an affidavit she filed later told otherwise. The affidavit said Cuthbert has instead given six of those dogs back to their previous owners.

'I will not euthanize healthy dogs'

Cuthbert maintains that many of her dogs have behavioural problems and could not be successfully adopted out.

"They are healthy and I will not euthanize healthy dogs that do not meet the criteria to be safely adopted to the general public. I will continue to work on adoptions for people that have the expertise to continue to manage the specific dogs and meet their needs," she told CBC.

Graham Lang, the lawyer who represents Cuthbert's neighbours, could not say whether he'll try to enforce the court order. He said he would speak to his clients first.

Meanwhile, Cuthbert is appealing the original court decision against her. The appeal is set to be heard next month.

"I continue to wait for the ground to thaw to hopefully temporarily relocate until the final decision is made by the appeal court," she told CBC.