R v Vandewater, 2017 BCPC 169032-2-C

Mr. Vandewater was transporting a friend’s dog which was attached to his bicycle. While he was riding he did not notice that the dog was being dragged. The dog suffered abrasions to his paws which left bloody paw prints down the street.

Originally this offence was proceeding under the Criminal Code, however, it was determined that the offence was not willful and therefore was pursued under the BC Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Mr. Vandewater was fined $250 payable within 6 months, and was given a 2 year prohibition from owning animals. This was a joint submission from Crown and defence.

R v Nikkels, 2018 BCPC 40401-1

On April 12, 2016 BC SPCA received a complaint that a seven-year-old female Teacup Chihuahua named ‘Bianca’ had been brought to a veterinary clinic suffering from a crushed skull and chest. The dog was found to be in critical distress and humanely euthanized. Kylie Nikkels had been left alone in her estranged grandmother’s house with the grandmother’s dog ‘Bianca’ the day of the incident and claimed she found the dog in that condition. A necropsy report showed the dog ‘Bianca’ had suffered blunt-force trauma to the skull.

After a lengthy SPCA investigation, Nikkels was arrested by RCMP and a trial commenced. Nikkels was found not guilty by the judge due to having reasonable doubt on whether she caused the injuries to Bianca. The judge believed that the injuries could have been caused by a number of different reasons, including the other dog in the residence.

R v Wabasca, 2014 ABPC 131341208P1

The accused entered a home uninvited with his friends. He assaulted the home owner, so her pet pit bull tries to defend her. The accused’s friends then attack the pit bull with a knife. The accused tells his friend to kill the pit bull, but the dog survives the attack. The accused does not touch the dog himself. These facts are admitted by the accused.

The accused has a prior criminal record for manslaughter.

Wabasca pleaded guilty on s.445.1 by aiding & abetting another to wound/injure/hurt an animal, as well as to unlawful entry and assault

There was a joint submission on sentence – three weeks’ incarceration for aiding and abetting to wound an animal (21 days) and 12 months’ probation following all three charges.

R v Haughton, 2011 BCPC

This voir dire is pursuant to applications made by Ms. Haughton under s. 8 of the Charter, which challenged the issuance and execution of the search warrant obtained by the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Ms. Haughton alleged three breaches: (1) an SPCA employee unlawfully trespassed on her property in order to gather information for a search warrant; (2) the information used by Special Police Constable (SPC) Wiltse to obtain the search warrant was not based on reasonable and probable grounds because only one complainant was relied on, and; (3) the scope of the warrant was exceeded when SPC Wiltse and others took photographs and video of the property and animals and looked through her record books and refrigerator. The Court dismissed the s. 8 application.

R v Young, 2016 MBPC

Mr. Young was found guilty of three separate crimes: Hitting another individual with a cat, causing the animal’s death; throwing a German Shepard onto the pavement; and, punching a nurse who was attending to him at a psychiatric facility.

Mr. Young pleaded guilty to all charges. The defence sought a two year probation with a focus on rehabilitation instead of incarceration. Whereas, the Crown argued for six months in jail.

The defence argued that Mr. Young’s cognitive deficits (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, possible schizophrenia) were mitigating factors. The defence also noted that Mr. Young lives in a society where it is unacceptable to kill domestic animals, even though it is acceptable to kill animals for meat. Moreover, the heroes in Indigenous culture often kill animals. Defence argues that these moral discrepancies are complicated for someone with Mr. Young’s deficiencies.

In sentencing, the Court accepted that Mr. Young suffered from cognitive difficulties and an impoverished upbringing. However, he did not accept that society’s discrepancy between companion animals and animals as food as a mitigating factor in this case, stating that this “usually does not spill over into criminal behaviour”.

The judge noted that a propensity to hurt animals is “too often… the tip of a psychotic iceberg,” and “there was reason to believe in this case that Mr. Young was a danger to people as well as animals.” Custody was deemed necessary to stabilize the accused.

R v Villebrun, 2013 ABPC 130451032P1

Ms. Villebrun was on a recognizance order to keep the peace and be of good behaviour when she randomly attacked a dog who was sitting with his owner.  Accused was under the influence of drugs/alcohol and said “It was an alien”.  The owner tried to defend the dog and was assaulted.  Villebrun has a criminal record with assault and many breaches.  Pre-sentence report (PSR) completed, shows “traumatic circumstances” in Ms. Villebrun’s past, including FASD and foster care.

Villebrun pleaded guilty to assault, causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, and trespassing.

Crown’s position: four months on Count 2 for animal cruelty. The early guilty plea, past criminal record and the totality principle should be taken into consideration. Incarceration is appropriate, plus 20-25 years of animal ownership prohibition.

Defense’s position: leniency for Gladue factors & PSR, which show a difficult and troubled past for the accused. No probation (Villebrun can’t comply). Treatment for addictions and mental health.  Wants accused to keep cat so no animal prohibition.  No suspended sentence but global gaol sentence.


R v Taker, 2016 NLPC 1315A00249

Ms. Taker was found to have had over one 140 cats, plus one parrot, living in her residence, which were all seized and removed by a local rescue due to her inability to care of this quantity of animals.

The vast majority of these cats resided in urine and feces soaked conditions, suffered from flea infestations, were emaciated, severely ill and unneutered. These animals came into Taker’s care when she found a number of cats and kittens in a shed and took them into her residence to care for them, however, their numbers quickly increased out of Taker’s control. Five of the animals (four cats and a parrot) were Taker’s own personal pets and were noted to be well cared for and healthy, and were therefore permitted to stay with her.

Taker pleaded guilty to one count under s. 18(2) of the Animal Health and Protection Act for causing these animals to be in distress. The Crown sought a fine in the range of $1000-1500, a lifetime prohibition on ownership of any more than five animals and declined to seek costs for the care of the animals that were seized.

R v Savova, 2012 ABPC 121

The accused went to the vet for special food for her cat, who she thought was pregnant. The vet suggested she bring the cat in, which she did. The vet said the cat was sick and either had to have surgery or be put down. The accused said she was going to another clinic to get a second opinion. She did not do this. The vet called the Humane Society who contacted the accused saying she had to act quickly. The vet performed surgery but the cat died on the operating table.

The accused was charged with causing distress and failing to provide adequate care. The Crown and Defence suggested a common law peace bond for one year requiring the accused to get psychiatric counseling and prohibiting her from owning a pet. She did not want to attend counseling. The court considered if they could and should make such an order.

The court found it did not have jurisdiction to impose the peace bond for a provincial regulatory matter. The court cited concerns that contravening the peace bond would open the accused to criminal sanctions when she had not been charged with a criminal offence in the first place. The court went on to state that even if it had jurisdiction, it would not impose a peace bond because it is clear that the accused does not want to attend counseling and it is not appropriate to order this in a probation order. In addition, the condition was not connected to the offence but to her “rude emotional outbursts”. It was also noted that if granted, it would be filed in the federal CPIC database and have serious implications on her freedom to travel and obtain employment.

R. v Sanaee, 2015, ABPC 140906538P1

Accused ran an organization called “BARK” which he held to be a last resort to reform dogs with problem behaviors before going to a shelter to be put down. The accused made use of cattle prods to discipline the dogs and he put the dogs in positions that encouraged aggression. After complaints were made, several dogs were seized. The accused had a license only for 3 dogs and no overnights, but he had somewhere between 10 and 13 and was keeping them overnight. In addition, there was an accumulation of urine and feces were the dogs were kept. It was the accused’s belief that it was reasonable to use a cattle prod for discipline purposes. The accused was found guilty.

The judge emphasized Parliament’s intentions and that the offence is considered to be a serious one. Denunciation and deterrence are important goals. Mitigating factors were his lack of a criminal record and that the case had received a lot of negative media attention. Aggravating circumstances were the position of trust, his unwillingness to accept that what he did was wrong, and that he was found to be untruthful when making statements during trial.

R v Robinson, 2014 BCSC 1463

The accused shot and killed her neighbour’s dog after it had chased her cattle. She made a statement to the police that included details of the events. She saw her neighbour’s dog run into her cattle pasture to chase the cattle and “was attacking by jumping and biting at them”. One of the accused’s dogs barked thereby distracting the dog, at which time it came towards the accused. Believing herself and dogs to be in danger, she got her gun. The dog was sniffing the ground in her yard when the accused shot it.

The arguments on trial were based on s.11.1(2) of the Livestock Act. The Crown argued that while there was no dispute the dog was “running at large”, it was not “attacking or viciously pursuing livestock”. The trial judge convicted her, finding that there was no reliable evidence the dog was barking when he was chasing the cattle and no evidence that he nipped, bit or injured the cattle.

The accused appealed on the basis that the trial judge erred in law by misapprehending the evidence by failing to consider Exhibit 2 that included more details of the incident than her viva voce evidence. She also appealed on the basis that the trial judge erred in failing to consider the defences of legal justification or colour of right.

The Crown argued that the trial judge was not required to refer to every piece of evidence in their reasons and it was open to the trial judge to make a finding based on the accused’s viva voce evidence. In rejecting this argument, the court found the trial judge failed to consider the evidence found in Exhibit 2 that could have supported the defence under s.11.1(2) of the Livestock Act. The court also found that even though the defences of legal justification and colour of right had not been argued at trial, the accused was entitled to have all possible defences and evidence considered. The court allowed the appeal and directed a new trial.