Animal rights protesters confront accused dog dragger at Strathmore court
Melinda Harris sits outside a Provincial Courthouse prior to facing charges of Causing Unnecessary Suffering to an Animal, regarding a July 2nd incident of a leashed dog being dragged by a vehicle resulting in its death, in Strathmore, Alta. on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
STRATHMORE — A woman charged after a critically injured dog was found tied to a car was confronted by animal-rights protesters when she made her first court appearance Tuesday.
Melinda Harris, 40, is accused of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
On July 2, a police officer was stopped by a driver who had seen a dog on a leash being dragged behind a black car on a highway east of Calgary.
The car, with the injured dog tied to it, was found in a field later that day. Police said the dog was suffering from injuries consistent with having been dragged. RCMP took the dog, believed to be a border collie cross, to an emergency veterinary clinic but the animal had to be euthanized.
Heather Anderson from the Daisy Foundation, a group that fights for stiffer penalties for animal abusers, confronted a smiling Harris outside of the Strathmore courthouse, east of Calgary, during a break.
"How can you be joking? Your dog just died. I don't find anything funny about this," Anderson said. "I want to know why the dog didn't end up at a vet."
Harris replied that it wasn't her fault and said her boyfriend had tied the dog to the hitch of her car.
"I drove away to get gas," Harris said.
Her car ran out of gas and she left on foot to get help, she said.
"He was in pain and I knew he was dying and I ran for help," Harris said.
"Shut up. I didn't tie my dog up and I wouldn't never had done that to my dog. Am I laughing about my dog? No, I'm crying every day."
Harris waited most of the day for her name to be called in court. She was told that the Crown was amending the charge against her but it wasn't clear what the new charge will be.
Harris, who now lives in Mackenzie, B.C., has been ordered to return to court Sept. 5.
RCMP have issued an arrest warrant for True Underwood, 20, who is also charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Anderson founded the Daisy Foundation in 2006 after a 19-year-old man was charged with animal cruelty when a dog named Daisy Duke was dragged up and down the street in Didsbury.
"It really reminded me of Daisy Duke and when she got killed. Dragged behind the vehicle by someone who was supposed to love her. It was way too familiar for me," Anderson said outside of court.
"Obviously, the poor thing died and he suffered. It's pretty sad."