Brenda Tonasket was among a protesters who rallied in front of the Vernon Law Courts prior to an appearance by Carla Jean Christman and her daughter, Chelsea Beluse-Christman Wednesday afternoon. The mother and daughter face multiple charges of animal neglect, including the mistreatment of 42 horses. Photo: Brendan Shykora - Morning Star Staff

Alleged animal abusers now allowed four dogs

Carla Christman and Chelsea Beluse-Christman face multiple charges related to animal cruelty

A North Okanagan woman and her daughter facing multiple charges of animal neglect will now be able to care for four dogs, instead of just two.

Carla Christman and her daughter, Chelsea Beluse-Christman, face charges including unnecessary pain/suffering to an animal and failing to provide necessities for an animal – matters that have not yet been proven in court.

The charges are related to numerous animals seized from their farm on Irish Creek Road north of Vernon in March. The animals – 42 horses, four dogs and four hogs – were seized by the BC SPCA in March 2019 after two rotting horse carcasses were found on their property.

Read More: Vernon woman loses B.C. Farm appeal due to rotting carcasses

Judge Richard Hewson ordered a new list of variances at the Vernon law courts on Wednesday at the request of Provincial Crown lawyer Alexandra Janse and defence lawyer Joe Deuling. The new bail variances now allow the accused to care for two previously owned guard dogs (named Sammy and Noah) in addition to the two family dogs they were already permitted to care for (Junebug and Tobi). The dogs were taken away after the horse seizure because they were interfering with the investigation.

One condition is that the accused are not allowed to replace any of the four dogs with others – which is why the dogs’ names were given in court.

A second bail variance was granted: the accused will now be allowed to report to their bail supervisor by phone at the supervisor’s discretion (though they must appear in person one more time at 3 p.m. on Aug. 15), reason being that Carla deals with medical issues and Chelsea works varying hours as a flagger.

Previous conditions that carry over include the accused being barred from having care, custody or control over any animal, or residing in a home where there are any animals except for the four dogs. The Christmans’ application for bail variances on these conditions was adjourned, and they’re set to appear again in court on Aug. 22.

A small gathering of protesters rallied with signs in hand in front of the law courts before the proceedings, as they’ve committed to doing each time the Christmans appear in court.

“It’s really important our community not forget that animals died and animals suffered,” said Brenda Tonasket, who has led the protest group after helping notify the SPCA about the horses in a February Facebook post.

“These people still have four dogs. We don’t know how they’re going to be cared for,” said Kathy Murray, another protester at the scene.

Read More: Judge adjourns bail variance in North Okanagan animal cruelty case

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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