September 13, 2018 10:57 pm
Updated: September 13, 2018 11:29 pm

Fort McMurray SPCA suspends employee accused of mistreating dog in organization’s care

A file photo of an RCMP cruiser.

THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lee Brown
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The Fort McMurray SPCA says one of its employees has been charged by the RCMP following an investigation prompted by a social media post alleging mistreatment of an animal in the organization’s care.

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“Pending the outcome of the charges that have now been filed, the employee identified in this investigation has been suspended from our employment,” the non-profit’s executive director, Arianna Johnson, wrote in a statement posted to the SPCA’s Facebook page Wednesday night.

“The Fort McMurray SPCA, our board of directors, my staff and I take our commitment to the excellent and professional care of the animals in our facility extremely seriously,” she wrote. “When these allegations surfaced on social media, we contacted the RCMP to request an independent investigation be conducted.”

Global News has reached out to the RCMP to find out the name of the accused and what they have been charged with.

According to the Fort McMurray SPCA, the social media post that brought on the investigation appeared online on Aug. 18.

Late Thursday night, the RCMP confirmed a 27-year-old woman is facing a criminal charge in connection with the case.

Lesleigh Louise Russell is charged with one count of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog.

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“The safety, well-being, health and happiness of every animal in our region, and particularly those in care in our facility, is our paramount concern,” Johnson wrote. “Out of respect for the judicial process, the Fort McMurray SPCA will not issue any further statements or comments on this matter.”

Russell has been released from police custody and is scheduled to appear in court in Fort McMurray on Dec. 5.

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