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Animal rights advocates hoped to make a statement

Deb Simpson, left, stands with two fellow animal rights advocates who declined to give their names outside the Western Communities courthouse Thursday. Joseph White and Elizabeth Johnston of Colwood have been criminally charged in the abuse and neglect of their pit bull mix, Bryn, and were scheduled to appear at a court hearing that day. - Angela Cowan/News Staff
Deb Simpson, left, stands with two fellow animal rights advocates who declined to give their names outside the Western Communities courthouse Thursday. Joseph White and Elizabeth Johnston of Colwood have been criminally charged in the abuse and neglect of their pit bull mix, Bryn, and were scheduled to appear at a court hearing that day.
— image credit: Angela Cowan/News Staff

Animal lovers waving signs declaring “Justice 4 Bryn!” and “Speak up for those that cannot!” stood on the sidewalk outside the Western Communities courthouse Thursday.

More inside waited for Joseph Jansen White and Elizabeth Sandee Johnston of Colwood to appear for an arraignment hearing on criminal animal abuse charges. The pair have been criminally charged with abandonment or wilful neglect of an animal and failing to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care for it. White is additionally charged with wilfully causing unnecessary pain or suffering or injury to an animal.

Bryn, a pit bull mix aged approximately seven, was brought in to the Victoria SPCA on April 2 with severe injuries including a broken front leg, broken teeth, significant bruising on her abdomen and severe lacerations on her head that required suturing.

The dog was also experiencing neurological deficits impacting the use of her back legs, leaving the animal unable to stand or walk on her own.

Annie Prittie Bell, branch manager of the Victoria SPCA, said the dog needed substantial care, including two dental surgeries.

White failed to appear for the Aug. 7 hearing and it was rescheduled to Aug. 14. If he fails to appear at that hearing, an application for a warrant will be processed.

Johnston had an agent representing her in court and her hearing was put over to Aug. 21.

A woman involved in the protest, who chose not to give her name over personal safety concerns, has been following the case from the beginning, and started a movement on Facebook to show the courts there are people willing to stand up against animal abuse, she said.

“I felt compelled to do something. There’s a lot of people against this.”

Despite the injuries and neglect, the dog seems to have experienced a happy ending, said Prittie Bell. “She is doing amazing. She’s walking really well and most things are healing well,” she said. “And she actually just got adopted into her forever home.”

acowan@goldstreamgazette.com

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