Kelowna man finds box labeled 'free dog' outside his complex

'Free dog' mystery solved

UPDATE 9:40 a.m.

A person with knowledge of the empty box with the words "free dog" printed on the side has reached out to Castanet to let us know there was no intention to harm any animal.

Kiana Erisman tells Castanet, "I’m reaching out regarding your free dog post. I want to assure any citizens in Kelowna to our knowledge no dog was left out in the January cold."

Erisman says she and her partner received a large box and on a whim they decided to put their dog "Peanut" in the box, take a picture and share that with friends and family.

"For no reason other than my dog having these notorious sad eyes she can do, we wrote 'free dog' on the box to send a quick picture to the family group chat. We then put the box in a bin outside not thinking it would ever been seen again," Erisman says.

The couple live in the downtown area and have no idea how the box might have ended up on Jason Pharis's doorstep.

"We aren’t sure how the box was found and taken to another residence downtown. But I want to make sure those residents (don't) have too much stress/worry about an animal that's been left to suffer," says Erisman.

Erisman indicates she and her partner are huge animal lovers and, "would never treat an animal poorly. Please no one worry about that box as it was a lighthearted picture meant for the family group chat. I’ve attached a picture of peanut in the box."

ORIGINAL 4:00 a.m.

Shocked and appalled. The emotions a Kelowna resident felt after finding a box at his front door with the words "free dog," left on a cold January day.

Jason Pharis tells Castanet he was getting ready to leave for work Thursday morning when he noticed an empty box with a damp medium-sized paw print and a small, empty food container.

“I was rather shocked because to see somebody have the nerve to drop an animal off in the middle of January was crazy when they can just go to the SPCA and drop them off them there.”

Overnight temperatures reached a low of -6 C at Kelowna International Airport.

Eileen Drever, senior officer protection and stakeholder relations for the BCSPCA was also surprised, especially when there is a branch in Kelowna that accepts any pets that are no longer cared for.

“I’ve been with the branch for 40 years and 40 years ago this was not uncommon. I’m quite taken aback that this is happening today. There’s no excuse for it, absolutely none.”

Pharis says the dog was unfortunately not in the area, just south of downtown, and still hasn’t seen it as he returned home on Boyce Crescent for a lunch break.

Pharis said there wasn’t even a blanket left for the animal which clearly ran out of the open box as it looked too small for the dog.

He says the culprit must’ve left the defenceless animal there overnight as he and the other residents of the complex didn’t see the box Wednesday evening.

“I came into the house and it’s right there. I wouldn’t have missed it," he said.

Pharis says it appears the box was assembled hastily. “It looks like the box’s flaps were just folded in to hold it in there long enough so that the people could get away from it.”

As an owner of a couple of cats himself, he found it unfair that people would treat life like this — especially if it was a domesticated pet who may not necessarily know how to fend for itself outside.

“People need to smarten up and not do stupid things like that. Just take the animal to the SPCA if you don’t want it, it deserves better than that.”

The shelter investigates any calls of animal abuse, neglect and abandonment.

“If we find that animals are in distress we would possibly prosecute under the provincial cruelty to animals act or the criminal code of Canada. We would consider charging anybody that abandons an animal,” adds Drever.

The BCSPCA is appealing to the public to contact their call centre at 1-(855)-622-7722 if you have any information on this or any abandoned pet.

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