Nicholas Bailey had trouble finding the right words.
The 25-year-old Sarnia resident was given a chance to speak to a judge from the Sarnia Jail on Monday after pleading guilty to animal cruelty, but the inmate struggled.
“I loved that dog as if it was a daughter of mine,” Bailey said before becoming emotional. “It sucks that she’s gone, but, yeah, just kind of speechless, sorry.”
The court heard police and Children’s Aid Society officials were inspecting Bailey’s Sarnia home on Jan. 7, 2021, amid concerns over its condition.
“There were feces and urine throughout the residence,” Nila Mulpuru, Lambton’s acting Crown attorney, said while reading an agreed statement of facts.
During the inspection, a Sarnia police officer found three newborn puppies on a blanket while their mother lay motionless in the kitchen, the court heard.
“(The mother dog) appeared to be pregnant and very ill,” Mulpuru said.
Bailey told the officer the dog failed to give birth to some of her puppies and was too sick to nurse the ones that were born.
“The failed birth and lack of care had caused the female dog to begin suffering,” Mulpuru said.
Defense lawyer Sarah Donohue said her client and his partner were unable to afford veterinary care for the dog at the time.
“They were aware that the dog was in distress, but being persons of limited means and the issues in and around getting that emergency care in Sarnia, they were unable to do so,” she said. “Mr. Bailey was the subject of an arrest that had happened prior in which his money was taken and seized by police at that time.”
Bailey, after a failed attempt at fleeing, had earlier been caught with about 30 grams of cocaine and 15 grams of meth — both intended for sale — and was sentenced in February of this year to six months in jail.
The officer rushed the dog to the Sarnia and District Humane Society, which immediately sent it to the Bright’s Grove Animal Hospital for emergency surgery.
“Three dead puppies were removed from the mother,” Mulpuru said.
Even after surgery, the dog couldn’t be saved and had to be euthanized. The court did not hear the fate of the puppies that were born.
Bailey and his partner, Kerri Fink, were both arrested and charged with willfully causing unnecessary suffering to a canine by neglecting to provide necessary critical care. After Bailey pleaded guilty Monday, the charge against Fink was withdrawn.
“The circumstances of the offense of which you have been found guilty are extremely concerning and very tragic,” Justice Anne McFadyen said to Bailey.
She imposed the sentence both lawyers suggested: a discharge conditional on one year of probation and a ban on Bailey owning or living with pets. Despite the drug convictions, his criminal record did not factor into the animal cruelty sentence as it took place beforehand.
Donohue said her client has been a lifelong dog owner with an affinity for large breeds and pointed to numerous photos on social media of him with his various dogs. He wants to own animals again after the year-long ban expires and now knows he has to get the care they require, she said.
Despite the discharge, Bailey was not released Monday as he’s still facing multiple charges. He was arrested six months ago following what city police said was a record drug raid in the Sarnia area and again a few weeks ago, just one month after he was granted bail.
Those charges haven’t been tested in court.