R v Steiner, 2014 BCPC 23804-1

Mr. Steiner lived with 40 cats in his property. One of the cats ‘Hellboy’ urinated on the couch and Mr. Steiner threw the cat against a wall. Hellboy sustained a broken leg. Mr. Steiner surrendered the cat to the BC SPCA and the cat was treated and found a new home.
Honourable Judge Hewson found Steiner to be guilty and noted aggravating factors to be: the offence committed was a serious offence against a vulnerable animal, the animal suffered a serious injury, Mr. Steiner never accepted responsibility for his conduct and Mr. Steiner has a criminal record.
Mitigating factors in this case are: Conditions of release were complied with, criminal record is dated and unrelated, Mr. Steiner made some attempt to seek vet care for Hellboy, the offence committed was not premeditated.
Mr. Steiner continually interrupted the judge which caused a brief adjournment. The judge was very close to changing Mr. Steiner’s sentence due to his lack of respect for the court.

R v Orest Pohynayko, 2012 33140-1 BCPC

Mr. Pohynayko owned horses on his property. These horses were in varying stages of medical distress and neglect which was brought to the attention of Mr. Pohynayko by the BC SPCA. Mr. Pohynayko refused to provide vet care for his horses which were in distress. Two horses were seized and adopted to new homes.

In the court proceedings, although Honourable Judge Wood implements a small fine, he is quoted as saying, “…the fine that I am going to impose does not in any way represent what I consider to be a the real serious nature of the offence. There can be nothing worse than to disregard the well-being of an animal for which you have the responsibility as the owner.”

The reason for the minimal fine was due to the additional restitution order also imposed.

R v D.R., 2018 ONCJ RY1156

D.R., a young person 16 years of age, was residing at a group home in Navan, Ontario. The defendant left his room early in the morning. He got in an argument with a staff member, went outside and removed one rabbit from an enclosure in the yard. He ran toward the group home door, but the staff member would not let him back in. The defendant then strangled the rabbit to death.

The Crown’s theory was that he was hungry and the group home was not allowing him to have an early breakfast. The defense’s theory was that he killed the rabbit because he thought it was cold. Raised the defense of necessity.

The idea that he did it because the bunny was cold was rejected. It was found that he killed the rabbit because he was in a rage about not being fed and for not being allowed back in the house with the rabbit.

Found guilty of count 2, contrary to s.445(1)(a) of the criminal code.

Found guilty of count 3, contrary to s.445.1(1)(a) of the criminal code.

Found guilty of count 4, contrary to s.430(1)(a) of the criminal code.

Reasonable doubt on Count 5 (uttering threats).

D.R. is sent for a psych analysis before sentencing (last updated 20/12/18).

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.