Warning: Graphic content in this story may disturb some readers.
The note was brief, written on a pamphlet for the Humane Services Division of the Town of C.B.S. and stuck to the door window with three pieces of duct tape.
"Kevin, we have seized Bear, his collar is in his neck and it needs attention," it read.
The message was left at the home of Kevin Greeley, 60, by officers with the division. Bear was Greeley's dog, a shepherd mix.
Bear's collar was indeed in his neck — it had been fastened so tightly, the dog had lacerations deep enough to reach muscle in some spots. The wounds were infected to the point where the dog had an odour that could be detected more than 10 feet away.
"When we were driving in the van, (Bear) was in the back and even though that part of the van was sealed off, we had to drive with the windows down all the way to the vet clinic," C.B.S. Humane Services officer Terri-Lynn Cooper testified in provincial court Friday.
After a day-long trial, in which Greeley was self-represented, he was convicted of a criminal charge of wilfully causing unnecessary pain to his dog, as well as a similar charge under the province's Animal Health and Protection Act.
Humane Services officers received a phone call about Bear on July 23, 2018, and two of them - Cooper and Kayla Hiscock - visited Greeley's home, but got no answer at the door. They were familiar with Bear from previous matters, they testified.
The officers located Bear in a doghouse, wearing a nylon collar and tethered with a thick rusty chain. An RNC investigator who brought the chain into the courtroom estimated its weight to be about 30 pounds. The collar, he said, had been photographed and disposed of as a bio-hazard, since it was covered in blood and matted dog hair and had a putrid odour.
The Humane Services officers told the court Bear had no accessible food or water, despite the 24-C temperature. After getting the dog to come out of his house, they put him in the van and brought him to Dr. Ashley Harvey at the C.B.S. Animal Hospital.
Harvey told the court Bear was in too much pain to allow her to examine him, so she sedated him in order to remove his collar, shave the fur on his neck and examine his injuries. The collar was too tight to allow her to get her fingers underneath it, she said.
"The lacerations were in the area where the collar was, and when I peeled the collar away, dead skin peeled away, too," Harvey testified.
She said the blood and infection from the wounds had caused Bear's collar to stick to them, and her examination of the lacerations, which ranged in length from four to seven centimetres, led her to believe they had been present for at least five days.
"Would these have healed on their own?" prosecutor Robin Singleton asked the vet.
"No, not with the infection the way it was," Harvey replied, indicating the wounds would have either healed around the collar or led to sepsis, killing Bear. The dog was a healthy weight and had no other injuries, she noted.
"If you own a dog, what would you have to do to prevent this?" Singleton asked.
"Not having the collar too tight, but also touching or petting the dog every day. If you pay attention to the dog, you'll know. Even if you didn't smell it or see it, if you petted him, he'd cry out in pain.
"In my opinion, even the average person could see that collar was too tight."
Harvey prescribed Bear antibiotic ointment and anti-inflammatory medication, as well as medication for infections in his ears, and he was taken into the care of Humane Services officers.
When Harvey saw Bear again about a week later, his wounds were healing well and he had changed from a shy dog to a bubblier one, wagging his tail and nudging the hands of people in the clinic for a pet down.
Greeley agreed to surrender the dog to Humane Services. Bear was eventually adopted into a new home.
Greeley didn't call any evidence at his trial, but told the court he had been out of town for work when Bear was seized. The chain that had been attached to the dog's collar was heavy, Greeley said, because he had tried lighter chains and it was the only way he could keep him tethered.
"I love my dog. I had him since he was a pup," Greeley told the court. "It's only me and him."
"It's clear to me that the dog's injuries were apparent," Judge David Orr told Greeley. "I'm satisfied that you permitted the animal to suffer unnecessary pain."
Orr asked Greeley if he wanted time to get a lawyer before his sentencing hearing. Greeley said he did.
The matter will be back in court April 9.