Former pet sitter guilty of animal cruelty

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Judge finds Carlene Lovell failed to care for cats, caused their deaths

Carlene Tracey Lovell was found guilty of animal cruelty by failing to provide care for two cats which she was hired to look after. — File photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

First she denied neglecting two cats under her care.

Then she said they escaped.

Then she said she found them dead.

Months later, she went back to the version they escaped.

In the end, former pet sitter Carlene Tracey Lovell’s ever-changing story about what happened to Tabatha and Snuffy resulted in her legal downfall.

In provincial court in St. John’s Tuesday afternoon, the 29-year-old Paradise woman was found guilty of animal cruelty by failing to care for the cats.

‘Deliberately lied’

“It’s clear Miss Lovell is no stranger to telling a lie,” Judge Lynn Spracklin said in handing down the verdict. “It’s apparent she deliberately lied on several occasions.”

Lovell — who was a contract employee with the now-defunct Creature Care — was hired to care for the cats while their owner, Iain McGaw, was out of town from April 27 to July 4, 2010.

But the cats disappeared.

Police say Lovell didn’t care for the animals and they died as a result, although the bodies have never been found.

Throughout the investigation, Lovell gave three statements to police — each telling different versions of what happened.

She initially denied allegations of any wrongdoing.

Shortly afterwards, Lovell said the cats had escaped during one of her visits when she opened the front door.

A month later, when questioned again by police, she said the cats did die after she went almost two weeks without visiting. She said she disposed of the bodies in a remote area off Thorburn Road and even took officers to the site, but they found nothing.

But during the trial last month, Lovell testified she fabricated that story.

Judge went beyond Crown submission: defence

She said she lied because police told her she would be charged with theft of the animals unless she confessed they had died under her care.

While on the stand, Lovell said she took good care of the cats, visiting every second or third day while McGaw was away. She said she always made sure the cats had food and water and that their litter was changed and that, at one point, she made sure there was extra food and water for them.

But the judge didn’t buy it.

“Her testimony was not compelling,” said Spracklin.

The judge found it “hard to believe” two domestic cats would escape or that a trained animal professional would admit disposing of the cats’ bodies “just to improve her legal position.”

The judge did accept Lovell’s story she found the cats dead after failing to visit the house for close to two weeks.

“This statement is the only one with a ring of truth to it,” Spracklin said.

“In my view, this lady planned not to attend the house, since she put out extra food and water. She certainly knew what she was doing. A trained professional must have realized (what would happen by) failing to attend to them for that length of time.”

The judge added that while the cats’ bodies were not found, she believes the cats did die as a result of a lack of care by Lovell.

“I can’t find any other explanation,” the judge said.

Spracklin said that conclusion would be consistent with the testimony of a neighbour, who said Lovell went well over a week without visiting and that flyers had been building up on the front door of the house. The neighbour also testified she saw Lovell carrying a laundry basket, covered with papers, out to her car.

Neither Lovell nor McGaw were in court to hear the verdict.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 5. Lovell is expected to be in court at that time.

The Crown has proceeded by way of summary conviction, meaning the most Lovell could get is a six-month jail term.

Crown prosecutor Glynne Faulkner indicated she would seek a conditional sentence.

Lovell’s lawyer, Bob Buckingham, requested a pre-sentence report, with emphasis on Lovell’s social history, education history and risk assessment.

“We want the court to have an understanding of my client’s upbringing and the impact this will have on her future,” Buckingham told The Telegram outside court.

He said he will review the judge’s decision with Lovell in the coming weeks.

He noted his biggest concern was the fact that the judge not only found Lovell failed to provide proper care for the animals by not visiting enough, but that she “caused the cats’ demise.”

“The judge has gone further than what the Crown was submitting,” Buckingham said.

“That’s significant.”

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Geographic location: Thorburn Road

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Recent comments

  • Joella
    February 18, 2012 - 00:31

    I can't believe she could be so cruel. She makes me sick! I agree with a lot of the other comments. She should be treated just like she treated those poor defenseless kitties!

    • amy arndt
      February 18, 2012 - 20:29

      sometime's i just don't understand how people can be so cruel and heartless!

  • Valentina
    January 18, 2012 - 16:10

    She deserves hell! What a terrible thing. We NEVER go a full day without visiting the pets. Our contracts and agreements state so and follow with the reasons of why. This incident clearly explains WHY we do what we do. It's a shame that two lives were lost when they were supposed to be in caring and trusted hands. I will be using this story as an example of what bad sitters are made of to ensure people take care in hiring professional pet sitters with background checks and thorough training.

  • Hex
    January 14, 2012 - 23:17

    I Hope the Judge & God give her the maximum penalty

  • Ann Dombroskie
    January 05, 2012 - 08:39

    All the comments so far -I TOTALLY AGREE WITH-CAN'T SAY ENOUGHT ABOUT WHAT A SICK PERSON SHE IS I HOPE TO HECK SHE GETS HER JUST REWARDS IN H#LL

  • Becky Jackson
    January 05, 2012 - 03:03

    NEGLETFUL AND NEED MORE THAN JUST 6 MONTHS JAIL TIME.HOW DARE SHE?

  • mary l wallace
    January 04, 2012 - 23:20

    I LOVE CATS AND DOGS, I DON;T UNDERSTAND HOW ANY ONE COULD OR WOULD DO ANYTHING TO THEM ,,SHE IS SICK,I PRAY FOR PEACE TO THE OWNERS,,, GOD BE WITH U IN YOUR TIME OF PAIN SO SORRY AND SAD........ GBU MARY LOU

  • tcook
    January 04, 2012 - 22:19

    I think they should starve her as long as she did the cats. How dare anyone treat a living creature of Gods in that manor. Her day will come.

  • Denise Gray
    January 04, 2012 - 21:45

    This bitch is pathological!! She needs to see a shrink and then be slapped with a sentence that goes to the fullest extent of the law (which is probably not even close to what it should be for punishment). Any business license she has should be taken away or permanently suspended and she should be forbidden from ever being able to have a business involving animals again ... ANYWHERE.

  • fran
    January 04, 2012 - 21:32

    Just so people know most of us "Pet sitters" do one hell of a job taking care of animals! She is the exception, and she is SICK! I hope she gets the MAX sentence!!

  • Jamie Stone
    January 04, 2012 - 20:19

    Social history and education should not play a part here. She was smart enough to try to cover her tracks. I don’t think this woman is evil per se just indifferent and used to lying which may actually be worse. As for her losing her job-will I assume since the cats are dead that is a given. Anyway, such a person has no place looking after animals. I wonder if the owners checked out this woman’s references prior to hiring her. Are there any negative yelp listings for this woman for instance. I wouldn’t trust just anyone with my dog.

  • Faith
    January 04, 2012 - 20:19

    ppl like this make me wanna punch em in the face! and don't get me started on the penalty being 6-months, that is just not even close to justice....when i read something like this i hug my kitties tighter and am blessed to have them b/c they are a gift and just so loving that they make me smile on days that stress me out...i would do anything for them like they were my children cuz that's what they are....

  • Holly Shores
    January 04, 2012 - 19:52

    Umm, why worry about her future? What about the cats future or the owners? I really hope the judge DOES NOT go easy on her. She should be charged for manslaughter!!!

  • Dianne Hamel
    January 04, 2012 - 19:52

    I hope she gets what she deserves. Im sure the cats owner thought he was doing the right thing by hiring a pet sitter which makes me scared for anyone who needs a pet sitter. Why didnt the neighbor call animal control if he knew there were cats in the house not being cared for ? I would have.

  • Barbara
    January 04, 2012 - 19:22

    NO pet sitter I know or work with, as a member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) would EVER consent to visiting a cat or dog every other day or every third day. We insist on daily visits to ensure the safety of the animals in our care. This woman just did not care enough to visit and care for these two cats. I hope she is appropriately punished. I am not sure, but have heard of a new law that allows owners to sue for the sentimental value of the pets.

  • Sabrina
    January 04, 2012 - 17:17

    I hope she never has kids bc I'd hate to parental skills.

  • Animal Lover
    January 04, 2012 - 16:48

    I have followed this story from the start and am thrilled that the courts are finally coming through to see justice done for abuse of this nature, Ms.Carlene Tracey Lovell was an educated animal care technician....she should never work again in that field, As for a social history...GIVE ME A BREAK....no amount of social history justifies animal cruelty. I can only imagine the suffering these two dear cats experienced as one watched miserably as the other died and then died alone in misery itself. My heart goes out to the pet owner who lost his beloved pets. A big Thank You to Judge Spracklin on the decision rendered!!!

    • Minnen
      January 05, 2012 - 09:23

      I don't care at ALL what her upbringing was. She put herself out there as a pet sitter and represented she would care for animals in exchange for money. Being a pet sitter is a very trusted position as you are coming into someone's home and caring for their beloved animals. She deserves jail, and she puts a black mark on all good pet sitters who care deeply about animals and are certified. Check your pet sitter's references! Use nanny cam! Those poor animals did not deserve to be starved to death by the person caring for them.

    • Suzanne
      January 05, 2012 - 09:37

      For any living animal, becoming dehydrated and starving to death is a painful way to die. This person should receive no sympathy and should serve jail time. We must all take an united stand against animal cruelty to promote harsher sentences, especially in cases when a person obviously knows right from wrong. And this woman did or she would not have tried to cover up her negligence. I say put her in jail and not give her nourishment for 2 weeks.

  • tracy bee
    January 04, 2012 - 16:43

    “We want the court to have an understanding of my client’s upbringing and the impact this will have on her future,” Buckingham told The Telegram outside court. im not quite sure if im reading this wrong, but if im not, i could care less about what this will do to her future. shes didnt give 2 craps about the cats' futures. i hate it when theres a death involved and people, 'professionals' in this case, get a slap on the wrist and a 6 month jail sentence, which im suuuure with 'good behavior' or some bolagna, she will get out even sooner than that. damn shame. really is. in my opinion, i believe she should no longer have any right to work for/protect/care for/whatever else or own any animals of her own.

  • Michael
    January 04, 2012 - 16:42

    What a lying, vicious snake! She should get more than just six months in prison!

  • michele vernet
    January 04, 2012 - 16:19

    This bitch deserves to pay by having to work as a poop scooper at the nearest zoo's lion cage! Adios hija de puta!

  • lynn sarrag
    January 04, 2012 - 16:18

    I wouldnt like to write what i am thinking .I hope she rots in hell .

  • Jana dodge
    January 04, 2012 - 16:10

    Take her food away from her for a couple weeks, let's see how she likes that! She's a bitch!!!

  • Maddie
    January 04, 2012 - 16:04

    I hope she gets alot longer than just six months in jail.. Those cats didn't deserve to die! What did they do?

  • Terri Boldyga
    January 04, 2012 - 16:01

    I wish they would put her in a cell and then simply forget about her for a month. nuff said.

  • Sandy
    January 04, 2012 - 15:52

    I have been a pet sitter for many, many years and can not believe someone could do this. If i'm not at a house at an appropriate time I even feel guilty, much less for days. She has not conscience at all. She should suffer just like those little kitties.

  • Beth
    January 04, 2012 - 15:42

    She should be left unattended in a jail cell with no food or water for 2 weeks to see how she likes it!

  • jennifer taylor
    January 04, 2012 - 15:30

    I pray the judge in this case sees to it that this woman is sentenced appropriately since she is the voice for these kitties and the owner.

  • debbie
    January 04, 2012 - 15:02

    I think the judge should give her what for. Who cares about social history & education. She is a cruel idot in my opinion. And there is a place in >>>>> for animal abusers!!

  • Joanne Landry
    January 04, 2012 - 14:46

    I CAN'T BELIEVE IT !!!!!!!!!!! SUPPOSELY MISS LOVELL WAS TRAINED ..... I THINK NOT !!!!!!!!!! I HOPE SHE LOST HER JOB AND I HOPE SHE NEVER NEVER GETS IT BACK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOW CAN A HUMAN BEING DO SUCH A THING ????????????? THE JUDGE WILL DECIDE HER SENTENCE AND I PRAY TO GOD THAT MISS LOVEL GETS THE MAXIMUM PENALTY AND MORE !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Katerina Dado.
      January 04, 2012 - 15:49

      Yes she is an evil person,and I pray the God will give her the maximum penalty,and the judge also gives her the maximum penalty.

  • Lay
    January 04, 2012 - 14:38

    what an evil person.