A Hamilton man is facing three provincial charges after videos appeared to show him whipping his dog, Merlin, and dragging it down a sidewalk in late June.
Hamilton Police Service spokesperson Jackie Penman told CBC Hamilton Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) recently served the 45-year-old man with three summons under the provincial animal welfare services act.
A summons is an order for someone to appear in provincial offences court.
Police say the summons are for causing distress, permitting distress and failure to provide medical attention.
The province’s website states some of the penalties for violating these laws include fines of up to $130,000 against an individual on a first offence, a lifetime ban on animal ownership or up to two years of jail time.
Individuals can also be charged with animal cruelty under the Criminal Code, but the man hasn’t been charged with that in this case.
CBC Hamilton contacted PAWS for comment and hasn’t immediately heard back, but provincial offences manager Francesca Angheloni confirmed the man will be making a first appearance at Hamilton’s provincial offences court in October.
Viral video prompted community concern
Videos recorded on June 30 showed a man walking Merlin along Dundas Street before yelling at him, whipping Merlin with his leash and dragging him roughly 100 metres down the sidewalk.
The videos were seen well over 50,000 times on social media.
Police previously said PAWS took Merlin away from the man on July 8.
The police and the province faced criticism for taking roughly a week to intervene.
WARNING: Some viewers may find this video disturbing.
Sandy Shaw, Hamilton West — Ancaster — Dundas member of provincial parliament, wrote a letter in July scolding Ontario’s solicitor general about the response.
Shaw said residents in the area were “in a frenzy” while worrying for Merlin.
“Threats to the owner circulated online and added to the fear, as people were also concerned for the safety of other household members and neighbours,” read the letter.
“I reported these circumstances to your office numerous times.”
Shaw told CBC Hamilton she has been in touch with the solicitor general and Merlin is safe and doing well.
Criminal charges should be laid, advocate says
Ashley DaSilva, founder of Fur Warriors, a volunteer-based animal rescue group in Hamilton, was one of the people criticizing the response from police and the province.
“I’m disappointed it has taken this long,” she said.
DaSilva said the summons don’t impress her since they aren’t criminal.
She also worries the man will get Merlin back.
Penman, with Hamilton police, said PAWS is leading the investigation.