10/16/2015 03:21 EDT | Updated 10/16/2015 03:59 EDT

Andrew Thomas, Esquimalt First Nations Chief, Charged With Animal Cruelty

The couple's dog, Chewy, had a ruptured eyeball due to lack of proper vet care.

Royal Roads University

A B.C. First Nations Chief is facing animal cruelty charges after his dog's eyeball ruptured due to lack of proper veterinary care.

Andrew Thomas and his wife, Mary Anne, were charged after the BC SPCA were called about a sick dog seen tied up outside a home in Esquimalt in July.

“Chewy was badly matted, filthy and was suffering from a severe infection in his eye that had been left untreated. The infected eyeball had ruptured, causing an open weeping down his face,” said SPCA animal protection officer Erika Paul in a media release Thursday.

“The vet suspected that, given the severity of the infection, the injury had gone untreated for a number of weeks,” Paul added.

The SPCA said Andrew and Mary Anne chose to have the Shih Tzu euthanized, although his injuries were treatable. The pair was later released from custody.

They both face charges of neglecting or failing to provide necessities and causing unnecessary pain, suffering, and injury to an animal.

If convicted, they face a fine of up to $10,000, a maximum jail sentence of five years, and a lifetime ban on owning pets.

Andrew has been leader of the Esquimalt First Nation for more than 35 years.

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