The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Bodies of six B.C. dogs initially reported stolen dumped in ditch: SPCA

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VANCOUVER - The bodies of six dogs initially reported stolen from the back of a dog walker's truck were found dumped in a ditch in Abbotsford, B.C., says an SPCA spokeswoman.

Lorie Chortyk said the agency retrieved the bodies of the young- to middle-aged dogs and transferred them Tuesday to a lab where necropsies will be done.

The results are expected within a week and will determine how long the dogs were left in a vehicle in Langley, where they are believed to have died in hot weather.

The necropsy results, along with interviews with the dog walker and any witnesses, will be part of the SPCA's report to Crown counsel, which will decide if animal cruelty charges will be laid.

The SPCA took over the investigation on Monday after the dog walker admitted the animals were not stolen.

The woman initially told police and the dogs' owners that she left her vehicle to use the washroom in a dog park and when she returned the dogs were gone.

The temperature was as high as 25 degrees last Tuesday, when the dog walker left the dogs, including one of her own, in her truck.

Chortyk said the SPCA and police deal with hundreds of calls every year involving dogs left in vehicles.

"If you either wilfully, or through your actions allow an animal to suffer, that can be a criminal act."

Animals don't have sweat glands and can be overcome with heat exhaustion, brain damage or even death in as little as 10 minutes because the temperature in a car can rise so quickly, even on an overcast day, she said.

"We really do want to warn people that leaving windows open, leaving water, that is not going to help the situation. If an animal's in a hot car you've put them in danger."

Animal cruelty charges could be laid under provincial or federal laws, Chortyk said.

Under B.C. legislation, the maximum fine for animal cruelty is $75,000 or two years in jail. Under the Criminal Code, the maximum fine is $5,000 and 18 months behind bars.

RCMP have said the dogs apparently died in the back of the dog walker's vehicle and that they are looking into possible public mischief charges.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly reported the name as Chortnyk instead of Chortyk

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