A well-known Penticton pharmacist has been fined $1,000 and is prohibited from owning animals for a decade after pleading guilty to an animal cruelty charge.
The trial for 57-year-old Joelle Mbamy was to begin today in Penticton provincial court but she entered a guilty plea to causing an animal to continue to be in distress.
Three dogs were seized last January after they were discovered emaciated and huddled in a crate surrounded by their own feces in Mbamy’s Penticton backyard.
WATCH BELOW: Neighbours question why SPCA took so long to seize “neglected” dogs in Penticton
Photographs provided to Global News at the time showed two spaniels and one Rottweiler cross huddled together in a four-by-eight-foot wire cage.
Neighbours claimed the animals were left in the cold during winter conditions and were in poor condition.
On Thursday court heard a veterinarian determined the dogs were malnourished, suffered from neglect, and had inflammation in their foot pads.
One of the spaniels gained two kilograms in four days while in veterinary care after the seizure.
The dogs were rehabilitated and adopted out. Court heard Mbamy paid more than $5,000 in restitution to cover the costs of the animal’s rehabilitation.
Crown said the neglect of the animals was not intentional as Mbamy was busy running a pharmacy and raising her daughter as a single mother.
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However, Crown said the B.C. SPCA had received complaints about dogs in Mbamy’s care since 2011.
Defence argued for a five year ban on owning animals, noting Mbamy has no criminal record and is an exemplary citizen in the community with many accolades for volunteer work.
The judge said aggravating factors in the case included the state of the animals and seven years of interaction with the animal protection agency.
The judge said owning animals is a privilege, not a right, and how people care for their animals says alot about a person’s character.
Several neighbours who’ve filed multiple complaints with the B.C. SPCA and the RCMP were in the courtroom for the sentencing.
Tracy Lawlor said she’s disappointed by the result.
“I think it speaks to the fact that the Criminal Code in Canada needs to be strengthened around animal cruelty, I think the fine was low, I think it should’ve been higher on regards to the amount and the limits that are available under the act.”
The offences occurred on January 18, 2017, five days before the B.C. SPCA seized the dogs on April 23.