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'I just hope he didn't suffer'
Devastated pet owner speaks about the night her dog was brutally killed

Andrew Livingstone
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - When Vanessa Baron saw the look on the police officer's face she knew her pet was gone.

Baron parked her car outside Twist Resto-Lounge last Thursday night, stopping at the popular Yellowknife eatery to congratulate a friend on her engagement.

She leaned over to the passenger seat to unbuckle Garlic. She patted the year-and-a-half old Chinese pug on the head, smiled, and said "good boy." She ran inside the restaurant unaware it would be the last time she would see her furry friend alive.

For Baron the events that transpired after she left Garlic on that frigid night in her Prius, engine running, indicating a brief visit, are surreal. It wouldn't be more than an hour later that the dog's brutally beaten and lifeless body would be pulled from a downtown dumpster.

Lindsay Ransom, a close friend of Baron's, said a necropsy, an autopsy performed on an animal, by Great Slave Medical Hospital, revealed Garlic likely died from his lungs collapsing due to a blow to his chest. Multiple stab wounds to the chest and rectum area of the dog - which may have preceded or followed the blow to the chest - weren't enough to have killed him, she said.

"The only thing that's giving me any sort of relief, from the vet's assessment, is that blow killed him and he didn't have to suffer through repeat stabbings," Baron said, "I don't care about anything else, I just hope he didn't suffer that last hour of his life."

A half hour after visiting with her friend at Twist, Baron came out of the restaurant at approximately 11:30 p.m. to find the console area between the driver and passenger seat open.

Realizing someone had broken into her car, she frantically searched her car for Garlic but he wasn't there; she immediately called the police. At first she thought the dog had fled the car when the person broke in. Baron and some close friends drove around the downtown area searching for the dog.

"I (was) worried that he was outside and was going to freeze," she said. "I'm picturing he doesn't know his way around and he wouldn't know to go into Twist, so I pictured him curled up in a snowbank freezing."

Just after midnight a friend of Baron's contacted her to come to the police station. When she pulled into the station parking lot, Ransom and a police officer were waiting outside.

"I asked if they found him and they said yes and I was like 'oh my God! That's so great'," Baron said, speaking from her sister's home in Fort Smith. "Then I saw the look on the officer's face and he was just horrified, and he told me to come inside and talk to him. I hit the ground and I started crying."

Lloyd Thrasher, 23, is charged with killing or injuring an animal, theft under $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime. If found guilty for killing Garlic, Thrasher could face up to 18 months in jail, a $10,000 fine, or a combination of both. Baron, who used to manage Twist, knew Trasher through his music at the restaurant during weekly jam sessions.

It has been six days since Baron found out the horrible news of her dog's brutal death. When she closes her eyes she sees Garlic, scared and alone.

"I have this horrible nightmarish flash of him being stabbed and kicked and crying," I have this tremendous amount of guilt because I left him vulnerable and when he died, as he was being murdered, I wasn't there for him. Garlic was like a baby to me."

Since the death of Garlic, an outpouring of support from friends, family and community members has helped give Baron some strength through her loss.

Despite the tragedy, she hopes people will think twice about leaving their pets in the car while making a quick stop at the store or the bank.

"It's mind blowing that someone could do this to something so cute, so vulnerable and so innocent," she said.

"It's really surprising to me that such a hurting and disturbed person could go almost undetected.

"I don't want anyone to leave their car unlocked with their pet inside. If I had heard this kind of story I would have never done it."

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