The neighbours of a man accused of animal cruelty in Pictou County say that they’re still trying to process what they’ve learned.
“How do you get over something like this? Anytime you drive by it’s just an eerie feeling, knowing what happened. It’s not something that you shake off.”
The neighbours say the accused contacted them after he was released and explained his version of what happened.
“He hit them in the head with the blunt part of an axe. He couldn’t afford to keep them, nobody would take them. He couldn’t afford to take them to the vet to get them put down.”
They say the accused had lived on Maple Street for three years and that their children would often play with the horses the accused used to own.
“Last summer he got rid of his horses because he couldn’t afford them,” said the neighbour. “It broke the kids’ hearts when he had to sell them because they were over there with the horses quite a bit.”
RCMP have not yet released the name of the man, but a Facebook post naming him has caused problems for another Pictou County man of the same name.
The Facebook post was put up on Feb. 15 by Brittany Panisiak, a student at NSCC who was renting a room at the residence where the incidents occurred.
The unhappy coincidence for the other Pictou County man has led them to change their answering machine message to this:
“To anyone that is looking for the David Oakley that was in the papers, did you know there are two David Oakleys living in Pictou County and this is not the number for the David Oakley you are looking for?”
“An innocent guy is being harassed,” said the neighbour of the accused. “When Dave goes to court I would not want to be him, cause they’re going to want him strung.”
A protest in relation to the incident called “Justice for Meeka” has been organized outside the Pictou Courthouse on April 15, the day that the accused is scheduled to appear on charges of causing damage or injury to animals or birds, and causing animals or birds unnecessary suffering.
In their press release on Feb. 17, RCMP reminded the public that “vigilante justice will not be tolerated,” because of the comments that were being viewed on social media.
“People are incredibly passionate about animals and we put the reminder out there to remind people that we are doing our job,” said Cpl. Jennifer Clarke, media spokesperson with the RCMP. “We don’t want people to take matters into their own hands.”
The dog, Meeka was found on the property belonging to the accused on Feb. 14 with severe injuries. Several other dogs were found dead on the premises, including an older dog and a litter of puppies.
Meeka has since recovered and is going home with a foster family.
“We’re very fortunate that the foster that’s taking Mica is one of the vets that has been caring for her,” said Jo-Anne Landsburg, chief provincial inspector for the Nova Scotia SPCA .
Meeka has suffered head trauma and all information on how the puppies and other dog died is being withheld until the results from the necropsies are released.
The accused was released on Feb. 15. He took to Facebook that evening admitting that he “put down” the dogs but denied any other allegations in Panisiak’s post.
“It’s just an unforgiveable act,” said the neighbor. “I believe he had other options.”
Anyone unsure of what to do with an unwanted litter of puppies are encouraged to surrender the dogs to their local SPCA. The puppies are then spayed or neutered, given up to date treatments and then fostered to individuals who pass background checks.
Another option is the SPCA P.U.P. Program which takes the puppies off the individual’s hands and returns the mother to its owner after being spayed at no cost.