Cyrus the dog is staying home – and it’s not the one of the owner who left him in a boiling hot car in July 2007.
Paul Soderholm became embroiled in one of the most infamous and controversial cases of animal cruelty in recent GTA history when Toronto Humane Society investigator Tre Smith found his 6-year-old Rottweiler inside his SUV, with temperatures nearing 60C.
Soderholm was hanging out at a Parkdale crack house while his dog was dying. Cyrus was close to death when the THS agent broke the window and rescued the animal, handcuffing the owner to the vehicle while he took the canine for treatment with no time to spare.
Now, more than a year later, Soderholm has pleaded guilty to one count of cruelty to animals and not providing adequate care for his former pet.
The good news is that Cyrus won’t be going back to the man who left him in the car that day. The plea agreement forbids him from owning an animal for at least a year and he’s also agreed to give up ownership of Cyrus, who remains happy and well with a foster family.
Soderholm will also have to pay the Humane Society the $3,500 they rang up in medical bills saving the dog’s life. Although he now has a permanent criminal record, the 44-year-old gets a slap on the wrist, under current Ontario animal cruelty laws, by avoiding a possible six-month jail term and a $2,000 fine by agreeing to the plea.
The case became even more notorious because of Smith’s actions. While the owner was chained to his car, several angry animal lovers assaulted him as he stood unable to defend himself. Police found him beaten up and bleeding at the King and Jameson parking lot where the drama unfolded.
It resulted in Smith being suspended from his job for a time and questions about animal cruelty and what the law does, doesn’t – and should – allow.
Smith claims he wouldn’t change a thing that happened that day.
“Do you know what? I said it before. I’ll say it again: The events of that day happened, and at that point, I really saw no other way to protect myself from further harm. There’s two things I needed to do that day, and it was rescue a Rottweiler named Cyrus and save his life and to protect myself and the Good Samaritans who were helping me. They were being threatened, myself was being threatened. I wanted to go home at the end of the day.”