Police in Owen Sound, Ont. are continuing to investigate after a home break-in led to the death of a beloved family pet Wednesday evening.
Candace Dean and her husband, Martin, arrived home shortly after 7 p.m. to what they described as a scene from a “horror movie.”
“There’s a long hallway and then a kitchen. There was just blood everywhere. It looked like a horror movie or a slasher movie,” said Dean, on the phone from a hotel where the couple is now staying.
“There was an axe in the middle of the kitchen with pools and pools of blood.”
Dean recognized the axe as their own, removed from its perch in the yard.
Her thoughts immediately turned to the welfare of their five cats and two dogs. There was no sign of either dog. The cats were in hiding. The couple started scouring the neighbourhood and their own property. Two hours later, they found 13 year old Gus, their black lab, in the far corner of the yard.
“Gus had multiple axe wounds to the face and head,” said Dean.
Owen Sound Police arranged for Gus to be rushed to an emergency veterinarian clinic. It’s only an eight minute drive from their home, but for Dean, she said it felt like a million years.
“Gus was a friendly dog.– Candice Dean
“He was barely responsive,” she said. “He was barely holding his head up and trying to lick my hand.”
But Gus’ wounds were too severe and he could not be saved.
As the couple tries to process what has happened, many questions remain. Dean says they found about 15 cigarette butts in the house.
“What was he doing all that time in the house,” she asked. “At what point did Gus get hurt and then drag himself away? What if I had been in the house when this happened?”
And now, the Deans don’t feel safe in a house they have called home for 20 years. They have barely slept and aren’t sure how they’ll react when they move back home on Saturday, after the damage has been repaired.
Support from all over
Dean said she finds solace in her community, that the outpouring of support from friends, neighbours and strangers has been incredible.
Inspector Jeff Fluney with the Owen Sound Police says even people from hundreds of kilometres away are stepping up to help.
“I was contacted by a gentleman in Toronto and it’s an act of kindness that comes out in this tragic circumstance. He wanted to pay for the veterinarian costs involved in dealing with this family’s pet,” he said.
The family is slowly being reunited. Their other dog, Juliette, a sheltie-dachshund cross is with them in the hotel. One cat is with a neighbour. The other four cats remain huddled under the bed at home.
A 23-year-old man from Owen Sound has been arrested in connection with the break-in and attack on Gus.
He is expected to appear in court on Monday, facing charges of break and enter, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and cruelty to an animal.
Candace and Martin Dean say they will be there, pushing for stiff penalties.
“Gus was a friendly dog. If anybody came to the house, if he met anybody on the street, he wanted to jump, which was an issue, but he was happy,” said Dean.
“Not a mean spirit at all. We expected to be able to let him go in a nice happy old age, not ripped away violently like this.”