Mason c R, 2021 QCCS 1155

The accused appealed a judgment made on February 20, 2019 by the Municipal Court of Montreal where he was found guilty on two counts of willfully and without lawful excuse, killing, maiming, wounding, poisoning or injuring an animal and on one count of willfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal under the Criminal Code. The accused lived with his girlfriend who had already had one dog when they purchased another one, a Yorkshire terrier named Sombrero.

The relationship was characterized as rocky with several breakups and the accused would move out of the apartment. The first incident involved second degree burns over 75% of the dog’s body. The accused claimed he had boiled the kettle for hot chocolate and tipped over a glass of boiling water that fell on the dog. After the dog returned from the vet, the accused became jealous and was angry that his girlfriend was always with the two dogs. The second incident occurred while the accused’s girlfriend was out, and when she returned found Sombrero acting strangely and by the time they arrived at the vet was in a comatose state. The accused stated that Sombrero had had a seizure. The treating veterinarian diagnosed head trauma with the possibility of strangulation based on bruising around the neck, concluded that the dog was suffering. Sombrero was euthanized.

At trial, an expert in animal pathology testified that the repeated trauma found on Sombrero’s body were consistent with physical abuse, and could not have been self-inflicted or accidental. The trial judge concluded that based on the evidence that the accused was alone with the dog for both incidents and that no one else could have inflicted the trauma, therefore the accused was responsible.

The grounds for appeal were that the trial judge erred in law and in fact by failing to consider all the evidence or other reasonable inferences such as that Sombrero’s abuse was caused by a previous owner, and was not impartial during the trial. The Court found that the trial judge had not made any errors in law or fact, and that the judge’s disposition during the trial did not amount to bias but to impatience due to constant interruptions from defence counsel and had no contextual impact on the trial. The appeal was dismissed.