Brian Whitlock's lawyer says it's too early to say what plea his client will enter on a charge of beating a German shepherd and leaving it to die in a Kitsilano dumpster this year, but adds there are sides to the story that the public doesn't yet know.
Mr. Whitlock is facing a charge of causing unnecessary pain suffering and injury to a dog, contrary to the Criminal Code, between March 27 and July 18 of this year. The maximum penalty for the charge is up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $75,000 and a lifetime ban on owning animals.
In an interview Monday, his lawyer Tony Paisana suggested the public will come to a different understanding about the case once more information is revealed.
"I would certainly encourage everyone to reserve judgment until all the facts are known," Mr. Paisana said hours after the charge against Mr. Whitlock, 26, was disclosed.
"Of course, I am a bit limited on what I can disclose being this early in the process, but there's certainly more to the story than what's being reported. I think it would give a completely different complexion on the file."
Mr. Paisana declined to be more specific.
In July, the cries of a dog drew residents to a dumpster where a two-year-old dog was found wrapped in a bloody blanket. The dog, suffering massive bruising and serious cuts, died the next day. The case fuelled outrage across North America. In the Lower Mainland, donors raised more than $74,000 for the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Amid the ensuing outrage, Mr. Whitlock was named in the community as the owner of the German shepherd named Captain. In July, court documents revealed that Mr. Whitlock's mother "confirmed her son was having some mental-health issues."
When Mr. Whitlock made a court appearance this past summer on an unrelated case, protesters showed up to register their outrage over the fate of Captain.
Lorie Chortyk, a community relations manager with the B.C. SPCA, which investigated the case and made a recommendation to Crown on the matter, said Monday that the organization was pleased to see the charge in the matter.
"It's a very disturbing case," she said.
Ms. Chortyk declined further comment.
Mr. Paisana would not comment on any challenges his client is facing due to his notoriety, but said Mr. Whitlock respects the right of the public to protest against him as long as the activism is not violent.
"He doesn't take any issue with people making their views known, which is their right. He simply wants to have his day in court like anyone and he hopes others respect that right equally."
The Vancouver lawyer said he is awaiting full disclosure from the Crown in the matter before he can make some decisions on how to proceed.
He said he could not say whether Mr. Paisana has any pets now or whether he fears for his safety.