A Taloyoak woman charged with animal cruelty following the death of a puppy says she's been falsely accused and her life has become increasingly difficult since the criminal allegation has been made public.
Karen Nanook, 41, says she has lost a job opportunity as a result of facing one count of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. "Social media is making me look like a monster," Nanook said.
"It's very hurtful... I'm really saddened and feeling helpless about the accusations about me on social media and in the news," she said.
She grew up around dogs and was taught to treat them well, she says.
"My parents always raised a team of husky dogs my whole life. My dad used to take me out all the time when I was little, out dog-teaming," she recalls. "We raised hunting dogs that we'd take out hunting to the cabin with us and they'd protect us if there was dangerous animals that might come around. They've always been so loyal to us... I always respected (the dogs). I treated them like they were my own babies."
In early May, a four-month-old husky pup named Spike was sent to Yellowknife from Taloyoak after the young dog sustained multiple pelvis fractures, head trauma and severe bruising to its body. On its Facebook page on May 9, the NWT SPCA described the abuse of the pup as a "brutal attack" that left the animal "traumatized both mentally and physically."
The pup later suffered seizures and succumbed to its injuries on May 28.
The police publicly announced the charge against Nanook on June 7.
Lena Totalik, Nanook's older sister, said she's certain Nanook is innocent.
"She wouldn't do that to a helpless animal. She loves dogs. We grew up around dogs. Our parents always had dogs around when we were growing up," Totalik said. "I know she wouldn't hurt or injure a dog or a puppy. I've always seen her taking care of dogs and puppies, even when we go out camping."
Totalik added that she's hopeful people will stop "picking on" her sister.
"She's a good, loving mother, also to pets. She takes care of them," she said.
Nanook says the fatally-injured puppy was not under her care in the household where she used to live, but has since left.
"I don't know what happened to the puppy," she says.
She'd like to teach her children how to raise huskies. That has become legally prohibited at this time as a court order prevents Nanook from being around animals. Since she recently moved into her parents' home, it has also caused them hardship because they've had to move their team of dogs a kilometre outside of the community to comply with the legal restrictions against Nanook.
She is due to appear in court in Taloyoak on July 16. She says she's looking forward to clearing her name.
"I'm confident it's going to be resolved," Nanook says.