The accused was living with his partner and the events occured when her two daughters had come to visit. The accused had been acting strangely: during one incident he was waving a knife and he had made numerous threats to seriously injure the partner and her children. On the particular day in question, following further threats, the partner and children left the accused alone in the apartment with the dog.
The accused reported to having heard voices telling him to cleanse the dog from evil. He stabbed the dog at least three times in the throat area. The accused left the injured dog and went to have breakfast. On return he told neighbours what he had done and the police were alerted. The dog survived.
The accused pled guilty to maiming, wounding, or injuring an animal, contrary to Section 445(2) of the Criminal Code.
He was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the attack. He had a history of alcohol and drug abuse and had been sexually abused as a child. He had made several attempts at reform and had established a number of community programs aimed at rehabilitation. Letters of support were provided (including from the partner) attesting to the accused’s character and the good work he had done for the community.
This decision includes a useful summary of previous decisions on sentencing for animal abuse cases. The Court considered sentencing decisions in: R v Heifer; R v Connors; R v Alcorn; R v Wright; R v Munroe; R v Hill; and R v Tremblay). The Court held that in the circumstances the drug-induced psychosis was a mitigating (rather than aggravating) factor. Crown sought a two year jail term less pre-sentence custody, a weapons prohibition, DNA for the DNA databank and a lifetime animal ownership ban. The accused was given six months imprisonment for the animal cruelty charge (in addition to sentences for the other offences), a probationary period of two years, a 20 year animal prohibition order, a weapons prohibition and blood taken to the DNA databank.
Connors was a 24 year old male who was the subject of recognizance, the terms of which included prohibition of controlled substances. In this time, Connors agreed to care for a friend’s dog. The dog reportedly had behavioural issues, and would often defecate in the apartment since the accused could not take the dog out after curfew. After one month, Connors became violent towards the dog while under the influence of alcohol and steroids. The police were called by a neighbour, but the dog died on arrival at the veterinary clinic. The dog incurred 10 broken ribs, a broken jaw, missing teeth, and a lacerated liver. Connors pled guilty to charges under s. 445.1(1) as well as a breach of recognizance. He was sentenced to five months imprisonment, including 30 days concurrent for breach of recognizance, and factoring in one month of pre-trial custody. Two years of probation and a prohibition order from owning animals for 10 years.
The aggravating circumstances in sentencing included: extreme brutality, the protracted nature of the violence, and the fact that the accused did not stop after a neighbour made an inquiry. The only mitigating circumstance was that the accused made an early guilty plea. The gravity of the offence and the accused’s level of moral blameworthiness required a custodial sentence, as well as probation- a conditional sentence would not have achieved the objectives of denunciation and deterrence.
Defendant hit the dog, “King”, with his open hand and with a dish as well as striking the dog , including blows with the hammer to its head and body. Mr. Tremblay sprayed a substance into the dog’s face and appeared to rub the substance into the dog’s eyes. The judgment seems to suggest if Crown had proceeded by way of indictment, might have imposed a longer jail term although not criticizing Crown’s decision to proceed by summary conviction. Might have been longer than 6 months except 1) Crown asked for 6 months; 2) Comparison to similar cases (Connors and Munroe)
Connors was convicted of uttering threats to kill an animal contrary to s. 264.1(1))(c), of the Criminal Code. He appealed this conviction but failed to raise questions of law. His leave to appeal was denied.