By Jackie Morrison
On July 18, 2012, a couple in Vancouver found a badly beaten German Shepherd in a dumpster. The two-year-old dog was wrapped in a blanket and had suffered cuts and bruises on his body. He had also sustained spinal and brain injuries. A microchip later identified the dog’s name as Captain.
Captain was rescued from the dumpster, but died the next day from a heart attack. Vets had tried to save him for 30 minutes, but his severely damaged body gave out. There were indications that Captain would have been a quadriplegic had he survived. It was later discovered that he had been a K-9 pup who was disqualified for being too gentle in nature. The BC SPCA released footage of Captain’s final moments and the story sparked outrage and outpourings of donations to raise money to investigate the details of his murder and prosecute his killer. The BC SPCA does not receive government funding and relies completely on fundraising efforts. On average it costs $10,000 per case for the BC SPCA to investigate and help prosecute an animal abuser through the legal system.
Vancouver radio personalities Nat & Drew, hosts of Virgin Radio’s Breakfast with Nat & Drew immediately launched an online fundraising campaign on indiegogo that has raised over $75,000 as of August 13. Another Vancouver resident, seven-year-old Stella McWilliam, also responded with a fundraising effort to bring justice for Captain. McWilliam set up a Pet-A-Thon where she raised $1,401 towards the BC SPCA.
The visceral reactions to Captain’s tragic death did not stop with the fundraising drives. Dog lovers held a vigil to urge city officials to rename a local Vancouver dog park in Captain’s memory. Pet parents and their beloved canines gathered on July 25 near Kitsilano Beach and marched down Hadden Park, demanding criminal charges against Captain’s killer. At the same time The Province published more details about Captain’s short life.
Captain had been a K-9 puppy with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Alberta, but was sold to a man in Langley for $800 when he was washed out of the program for his gentle nature. The man discovered that Captain was deaf and sold him to Brian Whitlock of Vancouver via Craigslist for $250. Whitlock only had Captain for two months before the dog was found beaten and in a dumpster. The Vancouver police were able to locate Whitlock and executed a search warrant on his apartment on July 20, 2012. Whitlock was not present at the time but was later arrested on a separate charge unrelated to Captain’s death.
As of August 13, 2012 Whitlock has not been criminally charged with Captain’s murder. The BC SPCA has recommended that he be charged with causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal. Since this case is in Canada, the Crown Counsel (equivalent to a U.S. District Attorney) will be the one who decides whether to press charges. B.C. has one of the toughest animal cruelty laws and the maximum sentence in Canada for a conviction on such charge is five years in jail and a lifetime ban on having an animal.