Delta woman accused in six dogs’ deaths makes first court appearance

Emma Paulsen doesn't enter plea after allegedly leaving dogs in hot car.

Emma Paulsen

Emma Paulsen

A Delta dog walker accused in the deaths of six dogs that allegedly died of heat exhaustion in the back of her truck before being dumped in Abbotsford in May had nothing to say to reporters following her first court date Tuesday afternoon.

While she was inside the Surrey Provincial Court building, Emma Paulsen actually didn’t enter the courtroom where Crown counsel and her lawyer convened briefly. Instead, she stood in another part of the building, away from where TV cameras could see her through the windows.

When she did bolt from the door to a waiting car, her cellphone to her ear, Paulsen did not respond to media questions.

In August, Paulsen was charged with six counts, including killing an animal; causing unnecessary suffering, pain or injury; neglecting to provide adequate food, water or shelter; failing to protect and animal from circumstances that are likely to cause distress; causing or permitting distress; and intent to mislead police in an investigation.

She has not yet entered pleas.

If found guilty, she faces a maximum fine of $75,000, up to five years in jail and a ban of owning or having custody of animals for a period of time determined by the judge.

Owners of the deceased dogs and their supporters attended the brief court appearance Tuesday.

Stephanie Marner didn’t blame Paulsen for rushing in and out of the courthouse.

“I would be hanging my head, too,” she said, noting one of the dead dogs, a bouvier/poodle, was owned by her sister, niece and nephew.

Marner suggested that if found guilty, Paulsen’s access to animals should be forever limited.

“She deserves a lifetime ban of ever owning an animal, she should never be able to be a dog walker, she should never be able to volunteer with animals,” said Marner, adding she intended to attend all of Paulsen’s court appearances.

Paulsen initially reported the dogs stolen from the Brookswood off-leash dog park in Langley on May 13, sparking a widespread community search for the missing animals. But nearly a week later she admitted that the dogs had died of heat exhaustion after she left them in her vehicle on a hot day.

She then led Langley RCMP to a ditch in Abbotsford where all six pooches were found dead. One of the dogs was a border collie owned by her ex-husband and children.

Necropsies done by the SPCA confirmed the canines all died of heat exhaustion.

Crown counsel spokesperson Gordon Comer said there are about 50 reports of animal cruelty to Crown every year.

He said the next step in Paulsen’s case will be up to her and her lawyer.

“The matter is before the courts. She’s presumed innocent at this stage,” Comer said.

Paulsen’s next court date is Oct. 17.

– with files from Monique Tamminga

Surrey North Delta Leader