R v Cousine, 2016 BCPC

A complaint was investigated by the SPCA on June 1st, 2016 about an injured dog that had not received veterinary treatment. The dog belonged to Mr. Cousine. Mr. Cousine had taken his dog Tony, to the veterinarian clinic after claiming the dog had been hit by a car. The vet confirmed that the right front leg was broken and advised that the dog needed surgery within a few days. Mr. Cousine did not bring the dog back for further care or surgery.

Mr. Cousine alleged that he could not afford the surgery and that is why he did not bring the dog back. The dog was seized after a search warrant was executed by the RCMP and the SPCA. The dog had to have his leg amputated.

Mr. Cousine entered a plea of guilty to Count 1 and Crown entered a stay of proceedings on Counts 2 and 3 (*counts not specified in transcript).

R v Chalmers, 2013 ABPC 110779394P1

The accused pleaded guilty at the beginning of trial to one count of wounding or maiming an animal contrary to the Criminal Code. The accused’s partner came home to find the drywall (in the home that she shared with the accused and their pets) dented in three places in the shape of a cat. The accused had thrown Khonsu (their cat) against the wall three times leaving blood on the drywall around the second two dents. Khonsu was lying nearby, with blood covering his head and ears. The cat was lifeless and not moving. The accused was passed out in a chair nearby. The partner took the cat to the veterinarian who found multiple injuries including a fractured tooth, skull and leg. Surgery was required.

The accused went to trial on a number of domestic violence counts and a second wounding or maiming an animal, involving a second cat, Aradia. The following facts were testified to by the complainant but may or may not be the findings of fact of the judge as the transcript of that day is missing. With respect to the count involving Aradia, she jumped on the counter and knocked things off during the night. The accused found the cat and punished her by grabbing her by the scruff of her neck and holding her under the running water from the sink faucet for 30 seconds. She could not breathe and her eyes were bugging out of her head. The accused then pushed the cat on to the cement counter and threw her 20 feet to the couch. She was unconscious at this point but came to and ran behind the couch. The female owner went to see if Aradia was okay and found she couldn’t move her right front leg. They took her to the vet but made up a story as to how she received her injuries. She had surgery on the leg to repair the break and it took three to four months to heal.

The accused was convicted on one count of wounding or maiming an animal contrary to the Criminal Code. He was acquitted of all of the domestic violence related counts. It appears that the count involving Khonsu was amended to include Aradia midway through trial and the accused pleaded guilty to those facts as well.

The transcript of the second day of trial is missing so there is no information on what the issues were at trial and what findings of facts were made by the Judge.


R v Cardinal, 2012 ABPC 111412094P1

Mr. Cardinal pleaded guilty to a domestic assault and one count of wounding or maiming an animal (two dogs) contrary to the Criminal Code. The accused and his girlfriend got into an argument. The girlfriend attempted to leave the house and the accused physically prevented her from leaving by pushing, shoving and grabbing her. He threatened her and hit her several times in the head. He then picked up a small dog carrier containing two Chihuahuas, who were about two pounds each, and threw it against the wall. The dogs yelped and cried in pain as this occurred. She managed to escape from the apartment and some people intervened to stop the assault. The dogs had no lasting injuries. The girlfriend had bruising and swelling to her face.

Cardinal was sentenced to a long incarceration, due in part to the co-occurring domestic assault. No prohibition order was discussed or sought from either side. A mitigating factor in sentencing was Cardinal’s previous criminal record.

R v Burgio, 2014 OCJ 

On January 24, 2014, Lincoln County Humane Society officers responded to a complaint of two rabbits in a hutch without proper shelter. An Ontario SPCA inspector attended and determined that the rabbits were in distress. The rabbits were then examined by a Registered Vet Technician who found both rabbits to be in poor overall health, and one of the rabbits to additionally have teeth in poor condition. In the pen next to the rabbits, there were three chickens whose health was determined to be acceptable.

On January 27, 2014, Burgio surrendered the animals. On February 7, Burgio was charged with four counts under the Ontario SPCA Act. Burgio pleaded guilty to all counts and was given a fine and prohibition order.

R v Barwell, 2013 ABPC 121268882P1

The accused pleaded guilty to willfully maiming, wounding and injuring a dog (4 months old) between July 24 and August 11. There was discussion of admitting victim impact statements of neighbours who tried to stop the abuse, the dog’s foster owner and the volunteer at the Edmonton Humane Society who took in the dog initially. The court did not allow these to be admitted based on the wording of the s.722(4) and the meaning of “victim” as a “person”, not a dog. There was no case law presented by counsel on whether this had been accepted in the past.
The Crown argued for a sentence of 20-24 months based on the length of the cruelty, the severity of the injuries, the severity and length of the suffering, the position of trust held over a puppy and the fact that neighbours and members of his family attempted to stop the abuse but he persisted.
The defence argued for a conditional sentence of 2 years less a day based on mitigating factors such as a good work record, youth (19 years old at time of offence), mental health concerns, that he was on medication due to injuries sustained in a car accident and substance abuse issues.
The court decided that 14 months would be sufficient to meet the goals of denunciation and deterrence, considering the “sickening” abuse. The court considered the mental health issues suffered by the accused as a mitigating factor. Initially the court considered 17 months as an appropriate sentence but the defence’s submissions on the mitigating factors persuaded the court to lower it to 14 months. The court stated that given the circumstances of the abuse and the accused’s propensity for violence, a conditional sentence was not appropriate.

R v Barrett, 2015 CarswellNfld 14

Mr. Barrett was found guilty under s. 445.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada and under two counts of s.18(2) of the Animal Health and Protection Act after an anonymous complaint led to the SPCA discovering an array of improperly cared for animals (dogs, cattle, goats, sheep, horses and a pony) on his property.

The dogs were found to be left tethered with no access to food, water or shelter, while the other animals were found to be either emaciated, in severe distress and living in manure and urine soaked conditions or deceased. Of the surviving animals, 11 sheep, 2 calves and a pony had to be euthanized due to their condition. The necropsy reports concluded that these animals had been starved to death for a lengthy period of time and that there were no intervening diseases that caused the animals’ conditions.

At trial Barrett argued that he had been properly caring for his animals and that the animals had simply stopped eating, and also that costs of the care recommended were “astronomical” for someone who was just a “hobby farmer”.

The Crown relied on the evidence of 3 veterinarians, a veterinary pathologist, photos of the scene, observations of police and conservation officers, and also the testimony of local farmers who gave evidence of local practices for care. An additional important component of the Crown’s case was the evidence led regarding prior instruction on care provided to Barrett by vets, which demonstrated that he was indeed aware of the proper standard of care.

R v Alcorn, 2015 ABCA 182

The accused hung a cat by its hind legs from the rafters in his garage and cut its throat so that it bled out on the accused’s girlfriend who was positioned below as part of a sexual ritual. The accused pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a total of 24 months imprisonment (20 months for animal cruelty, 3 months for sexual assault, 1 month for breach of recognizance), and a prohibition from owning an animal or bird. The accused appealed the three sentences on the basis that the sentencing judge erred in using a pre-trial fitness assessment report to determine the circumstances of the offences because it contained a “major amplification in character and in particulars”. The court found it was an error and newly considered a fit sentence for each of the charges.
The court considered the conclusions from two reports, finding that the accused suffered from various disorders that resulted in the offences, and that he was intelligent and in control of his actions.
On appeal of the animal cruelty sentence, the Crown argued that the provision of the pre-sentencing report was unopposed by defence and this amounted to an admission of the contents or waiver of objection to the contents. The court rejected this argument stating that this was a conditional consensual admission and was not a blanket waiver or admission. The court went on to discuss the proper use of reports in this context.
The court ultimately upheld the sentencing judge’s sentence on the basis of denunciation and deterrence, and considering the motive of self-gratification, sadism and premeditation of the offence. The sentence was on the higher end of the range of sentences for animal cruelty but the court stated that this was by no means a cap. The appeal was dismissed.

R v Camardi, 2015 ABPC 65

On January 9, 2014 the body of a Siberian Husky was found in a residential alley in Calgary and one week later the body of domestic short haired cat was found very close by. An extensive investigation by the Calgary Humane Society and the Calgary police Service led officials to Nicolino Camardi.
Camardi pleaded guilty to two counts of willfully causing pain, suffering or injury to animal or bird. Both the dog and the cat were subjected to gratuitous unprovoked violence; the dog was tethered so that his front feet were off the ground, the dog was struck by thrown food cans, kicked, and urinated upon. The dogs muzzle was taped closed with duct tape because he would cry from being restrained. The dog died of starvation and dehydration and was dumped in an alley near Camardi’s home.
The cat was placed in a plastic bag and thrown against the floor multiple times. The cat suffered from malnutrition, dehydration and sustained serious facial and cranial injuries. Camardi covered the cats face in duct tape and strangled it to death.

Camardi was already on probation from being convicted of other offences and suffered from Anti-Social personality disorder, he was 19 years old at the time of his trial.
The court suggests that the animals suffered ongoing, prolonged and extensive abuse which was not triggered by rage or provoked, but was deliberate.

R v Hirtreiter, 2016 BCPC 211916-1

While suffering a psychotic break due to mental health challenges and drug use, Hirtreiter seriously injured a black lab type dog named “Ryder”, forced him to swallow several harmful objects and bound his neck and back. These acts were done in-front of Hirtreiter’s 4 year old daughter, allegedly in an effort to protect her. After police intervention, Ryder underwent medical treatment and Hirtreiter was apprehended under the Mental Health Act. She underwent psychiatric assessment and was discharged after one month. Hirtreiter allegedly injured Ryder as a result of hallucinations which led her to believe her and her daughter were in danger.
Ryder did not belong to Hirtreiter and was in fact a stray at the time of the attack. The judge explains Hirtreiter’s actions to be “bizarre and inexplicable”. She pleaded guilty, and offered an apology in court to ‘Ryders’ family.

R v Keefer, Vandyk & Visser, 2017 BCPC 63894-2C

The BC SPCA was alerted to an undercover investigation performed by ‘Mercy for Animals’. One of their employees posed as a worker at Chilliwack Cattle Sales and filmed his experience there. The video depicted numerous acts of violence towards animals, including beating, kicking, stomping and hitting cows.
After a lengthy investigation the BC SPCA recommended 20 charges to crown for Chilliwack Cattle Sales and its employees. The company and all employees have pled guilty.
Keefer, Vandyk and Visser pleaded guilty to section 24(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and to section 34(a) of the Wildlife Act.

This case is precedent setting as all individuals charged received jail time for offences against farm animals.