Animal cruelty trial to last two days

Joelle Mbamy has been charged with three counts of animal cruelty

The trial for a local pharmacist accused of animal cruelty over dogs allegedly left out in the freezing cold in January is set to last two days, according to lawyers at a pretrial conference.

Joelle Mbamy, 53, was handed several animal cruelty charges in March after the South Okanagan SPCA seized three dogs from her house on Jan. 23. The dogs were reportedly left outside during the winter in freezing and unsanitary conditions without adequate food.

Related: Charges laid after dogs left out in the cold

The charges include causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, failing to provide the necessaries for an animal and causing an animal to be in continued distress.

Mbamy didn’t appear in court on Friday, where her lawyer Julian Vanderwall and Crown counsel agreed upon setting the trial for two days. No trial date has been set yet, as Vanderwall and the Crown lawyers had differing opinions on how long the trial would last.

Crown counsel had believed the trial would run for just half a day, while Vanderwall had believed it would run for a full three days. The two agreed during the conference in Penticton’s courthouse on Friday that the trial would last around two days.

Those two days would include hearing from three witnesses, including two vets and a police officer. Vanderwall told the court he was considering bringing in his own expert for the trial.

Vanderwall said he intended to pursue some issues he found to be handled improperly during a search of Mbamy’s property according to animal cruelty legislation.

Mbamy’s three dogs were seized after a months-long investigation by the SPCA. Neighbours say the dogs were frequently left in a tiny cage, audibly whining in discomfort through the night, including in freezing temperatures.

It was neighbours who first reported the issue to the SPCA and RCMP, according to the animal advocate group.

The case will be going to the courts again next Wednesday at 2 p.m. to determine a trial date.