Top News

Dog at heart of C.B.S. animal cruelty case settles into new, loving home


ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

You might know him as Bear, a seven-year-old German shepherd-mastiff mix whose suffering was the subject of a recent animal cruelty case in provincial court.

His big, brown eyes may have looked back at you from the pages of The Telegram, in a photo taken by humane services officers with the town of C.B.S. last summer at the moment he was seized and taken for veterinary treatment.

You, like many others, may have cringed upon reading about the infected lacerations on Bear's neck — some that went into his muscle — caused by a collar that was fastened much too tightly and was weighed down by a 30-pound chain.

You may have grimaced as you read about how a vet had to sedate Bear in order to remove his collar due to his pain, or that RNC officers were forced to dispose of the putrid collar because it was a biohazard.

You might be happy to know that the dog now spends his days getting belly rubs, going for jogs and snuggling — lots and lots of snuggling — with his new owner.

"He's really a big lap dog," the 21-year-old man says, grinning and leaning to see around the back of the nearly 100-pound dog that has just plopped itself down on his legs for a cuddle.

The man, who prefers not to be named, adopted the canine formerly known as Bear from the SPCA last fall. The dog is Moses now, and he's quick to prick up his ears and come running when he's called.

The man had always wanted a dog, but it wasn't practical living in rented accommodations. When he bought a home in St. John's and found himself off work for a brief period, he felt the time was right to adopt a pet.

He had two criteria, he told The Telegram: it had to be a big dog, and it had to be a rescued animal. His roommate was the first to see Moses' adoption ad posted by the SPCA, and the pair went to meet him.

"We fell in love with him," the man says. "I read somewhere that dogs show their true personality after a month, but I knew Moses within the hour. He was excited because I was someone new, and then once he kind of chilled out, he's been the same ever since.

The man says he was vaguely aware of Moses' background. He knew the dog had been seized by authorities from a home in C.B.S., and he was told it had been a case of neglect.

"I did know that someone was in trouble for not treating him well," the man explains. "I kind of assumed the case was over at this point and that it had just ended quietly, but then someone messaged me and said my dog was in the news."

Moses' previous owner, 60-year-old Kevin Greeley of C.B.S, was convicted a week ago of animal cruelty after pleading not guilty to causing the dog unnecessary pain and suffering. He represented himself at trial, but did not call any evidence.

Two humane services officers told the court they had received a phone call about the dog on July 23 and visited Greeley's home, receiving no answer when they knocked on the door, but finding the dog in a doghouse on the property. He was wearing a nylon collar and was tethered with a thick, rusty chain, and had no food or water, despite the 24-C temperature. They put the dog in their van, left a note for Greeley with their contact information, and brought him to Dr. Ashley Harvey at the C.B.S. Animal Hospital.

Harvey told the court she sedated the dog 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, and the blood and infection from the wounds had caused the dog's collar to stick to them. Had they not been treated, the wounds would have either healed around the collar or led to sepsis, killing the animal, Harvey testified.

Judge David Orr convicted Greeley of two animal cruelty charges, one under the Criminal Code, the other under the province's Animal Health and Protection Act. Greeley is scheduled to be back in court Tuesday for a sentencing hearing.

The dog was put up for adoption through the St. John's SPCA, which is how he found his new owner.

As his owner chats with The Telegram, Moses wanders around the living room with his tail wagging, heading to the kitchen for loud slurps of supper before returning and playing with a toy on the floor.

Moses is quiet and never barks, the man says. He has no lasting physical injuries and is OK with wearing a collar, though his owner prefers to use a body harness on him for walks.

"He has shown a bit of aggression with strangers, especially when he's on leash, because he had never been for a walk until he came to the SPCA," the man says. "I had to teach him how to stay on the sidewalk and how to not get excited about other dogs. Well, we're still working on that."

Outside in the backyard, Moses plays fetch and runs with his new master, then lies down for a tummy rub. Back in the house, he holds his paws up one by one so his owner can wipe the mud from them with a towel.

Moses is clearly now a happy dog, with his suffering behind him.

His owner feels a shift is needed in society's general attitude when it comes to owning dogs.

"I think it's a little more pervasive than just the occasional animal abuse case," he says. "I think there's a general attitude of people thinking dogs are easy to take care of or a feeling like you need to have a reason to have a dog. If his last owner had the resources and the education, I feel like he would have done a better job."

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


Related story:
C.B.S. man guilty of animal cruelty

Recent Stories