A high-profile animal cruelty trial resumed in Duncan Friday only for the accused's lawyer to walk away from the trial.

Attorney Scott Sheets quit as defense lawyer for Anderson Joe, the man accused in the death of Teddy the dog.

Scott told court it was due to personal circumstances. The judge in the case has no plans to declare a mistrial, but wants time to decide what to do regarding defense counsel.

The three-day trial which began in late February is now put on hold until March 29.

Anderson Joe’s co-accused Melissa Tooshley is still scheduled to testify against Joe. She previously pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to provide necessities for an animal.

Teddy was found in the backyard of a Duncan home by the SPCA in February 2018. He was starving and his head was swollen to nearly twice its size. He died a short time later.

Joe has pleaded not guilty to charges of failing to provide necessities for an animal and causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal.

Graphic details about the extent of the alleged dog abuse have arisen from the trial, causing emotions to flare inside and outside of the courtroom.

Protesters have been calling for the maximum punishment for animal cruelty under the criminal code: up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine and a lifetime ban on owning animals.

According to politicians and First Nation leaders in the Cowichan Valley, some of that anger has taken the form of racist insults and death threats against the accused.

They held a rally Wednesday to condemn "recent acts of racism" surrounding the Teddy trial, with Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour calling on the community to let the court do its job.