R v Foster, 2018 ONSC 4353

Trial decision. Foster (defendant) was accused of killing his dog by throwing the dog from the balcony of his 7th floor apartment. No witnesses saw Foster throwing the dog from the balcony. The issue was whether the death of the dog was an accident or if it was deliberate.

The case was decided on circumstantial evidence which included: testimony from the five Crown witnesses; Foster’s testimony; and photographic and video evidence of the apartment complex, Foster’s apartment and balcony, and the dog. Judge found it troubling that no evidence was submitted, or measurements taken, of the milk crates or stool on the balcony to rule out the possibility the dog might have used the object(s) to jump of the balcony. Even so, the judge found Foster’s testimony to be not believable and that there was no reasonable doubt that he threw the dog off the balcony for these reasons.

 

The judge acknowledged that Foster was clearly living with mental health issues. But he could not conclude that the statement about the “metaphysical body” was involuntary, nor that Foster had no appreciation of the general situation because no evidence was submitted about what Foster’s mental health issue was and how it affected him. Thus, although clearly Foster was not well, there was no evidence to find that Foster lacked intention to throw the dog off the balcony nor that he did not understand the consequences of his action.

Thus, as there were no other reasonable inferences to be made from the totality of the circumstantial evidence, Judge found Foster guilty on both accounts.

R v Tucker, 2019 BCSC 961

Trial and sentencing on charges of assaulting police dog, Uno, as well as drug offences.

Background: Tucker has a long issue of substance abuse issues, and a lengthy criminal past.

Facts: Constable deployed the police dog, Uno, to assist in the arrest of Tucker. Uno had bitten Tucker and held him down to the ground. Tucker began repeatedly striking Uno in the face. After Uno was repeatedly struck by Tucker, Uno was more sleepy and less energetic the following day. Uno was also not eating normally.

Analysis: Judge referred to R v Smith 2017 BCCA 112 at para 45 for sentencing. The difference between this present case and Smith, was that Smith has no prior criminal past. Judge made note that Tucker’s acts were related to making profit to fuel his drug habit. Judge stated that he agreed with the Crown, and that sentencing needed to send a strong message to Tucker and similar offenders.

Conviction & Sentencing: Jury convicted on eight counts. Five counts related to drug possession for the purpose to trafficking, one count for injuring a peace officer, one count reckless driving that was dangerous to the public, and one count related to abusing a police dog while on duty. Judge sentenced Tucker two years’ imprisonment; three years’ probation; DNA order; lifetime firearms prohibition; three-year driving prohibition. One month of the total sentence was for the animal charge.

R v Prystay, 2019 ABPC 8

Decision on sentencing for charge of assaulting police dog.

Background: At the time of the incident, Prystay was in his mid-thirties and had a lengthy criminal record. Most of the convictions involved drugs or property offences. However, there are a few convictions that relate to violence such as assault causing bodily harm. Prystay grew up in an abusive home and his stepfather was a heavy drug user. Prystay’s biological father had gang connections and was known to sell drugs. Prystay started using hard drugs at the age of thirteen and had his first youth conviction by the age of fifteen for shooting his friend in the stomach while high. Prystay started a new relationship with a woman while in remand and started seeing a doctor to help with his ADHD and his drug addiction.

Facts: Prystay did not stop his vehicle while the police were pursuing him, and he was followed by the Air 1 (Edmonton Police Service Helicopter). The pursuit went on for over an hour, and the police helicopter watched Prystay drive recklessly and dangerously through traffic. Police finally stopped the motor vehicle by using a “stop stick” that flattened the tires of the vehicle when Prystay drove over it. Prystay then fled on foot and a police dog was sent after him. Prystay continued to resist the arrest by fighting and wrestling with the police dog – this led to the police dog receiving multiple cuts to his snout. During the chase and before being arrested, Prystay dropped 79.5 grams of Methamphetamine and located inside his car was $800 in cash and a loaded .22 Calibre handgun. After Prystay was arrested, he needed to be hospitalized for injuries to him arm and hand and needed 27 stitches.

Analysis: The judge accepted the Crown and Defence Counsel’s joint submission for sentencing as they found it appropriate for the circumstances. Full analysis done on s 12 Charter breach for administrative segregation but that is not relevant to the animal abuse charges the police dog endured.

Sentencing: The judge found there was a s 12 Charter violation (while in remand for the current charges, Prystay was put into Administrative Segregation after injuring another inmate, and the segregation was found to be cruel and unusual treatment for the situation), and this altered sentencing. After considering a sentence reduction, the judge found that four years and ten months was appropriate and that a stay was not appropriate. Of the four years and ten months, only six months were related to the abuse against the police dog (s 445.01 of the Criminal Code).

R v Rodgers-Langille, 2019 NSPC

Rodgers-Langille plead guilty and waived his right to a trial. This was a sentencing matter.

Rodgers-Langille has a criminal record from when he was a youth (11 convictions total). Currently as an adult, he has 9 convictions prior to this matter. Some of these convictions involve violence and domestic abuse between him and his ex-girlfriend who brought forward this animal abuse claim under Criminal Code s 264.1(1)(c).

Rodgers-Langille threatened to kill his cat that he once shared with his ex-girlfriend. These threats were sent to Rodgers-Langille’s ex-girlfriends’ father, via Facebook. Rodgers-Langille sent three short videos (a total of 30 seconds) of him harming his cat to his ex-girlfriend. One video showed the cat being choked (breathlessness) by Rodgers-Langille while he dangled the cat off a seventh-floor balcony.

The Nova Scotia Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty seized the cat two days after the videos were made and a veterinarian exam was conducted. No obvious damage was found.

Dr. Rebecca Ledger, an animal behavior welfare scientist who interprets pain and suffering endured by animals during traumatic events wrote a report on Rodgers-Langille’s cat. Since there was no obvious physically injury from the choking, Rodgers-Langille’s ex-girlfriend wanted Dr. Rebecca Ledger’s report to be read in court as part of her victim impact statement expressing the pain and suffering endured by the cat from Rodgers-Langilles abuse / choking. Dr. Rebecca Ledger wrote that choking an animal causes severe unpleasant sensations and has the greatest potential to compromise animal welfare. She wrote that the cat suffered from fear, anxiety, breathlessness, panic and physical discomfort from what she could see in the videos.

Cat has been rehomed to Rodgers-Langille’s ex-girlfriend and seems to suffer no long-term effects from the incident.

While in custody Rodgers-Langille took some anger, management courses and substance abuse courses and did express some remorse for his actions.

Sentence: 150 days incarceration (75 days for uttering threats, 75 days for animal cruelty), 10-year animal prohibition.

R v Peters, 2020 MBCA 17

Accused appeals conviction for seven-years for breaking and entering of a dwelling (criminal code s 382(1)(b)) and a two-year concurrent sentence for wounding a dog (criminal code s 445(1)(a)).

The facts of the case are not discussed in this decision.

Accused claimed that (a) the trial judge erred in failing to find the police violated s 10(b) of the Charter and (b) that the trial judge erred in assessing credibility by failing to consider all evidence. The MBCA found that the trial judge did not make an error for either of these matters.

The MBCA did however find that the trial judge sentencing two concurrent years for the wounding of the dog was extreme as the crown was only seeking 90-days. They found that under the circumstances and due to level of animal abuse, 90-days was appropriate and set aside the two-year concurrent conviction and set in place 90-days.

Para 16: “To summarize, the conviction appeal is dismissed. Leave to appeal sentence is granted. The sentence appeal regarding the break and enter offence is dismissed, while the sentence imposed by the trial judge for the wounding offence is set aside and replaced with a 90-day concurrent sentence.”

R v McLean, 2014 MBPC

The accused has entered guilty pleas to 13 individual counts under s 2(1) of The Animal Care Act. The charges were related to the condition of the herd of cattle. Inspections by an animal protection officer revealed that the cows death was consistent with being starved to death. The starvation of the animals was coupled with other forms of neglect including animals that were improperly penned together, pens which were improperly maintained and filled.

The accused is an experienced cattle and grain farmer and worked on this farm his entire life. With the passing of his mother, a dispute arose over the estate. The entire estate dispute was the subject of a trial in the Court of Queen’s Bench; see McLean v McLean, 2012 MBQB, 206. In the holding, Judge Simonsen held that the cattle in question belonged to the accused, while others belonged to his mother’s estate.

Dealing with the facts in support of the current charges, the judge emphasized that each animal in the herd was succumbed to starvation and had suffered enormously. The degeneration of the herd was due centrally to the action and inaction of the accused and was not from the animals pre-existing ill health. This is because prior to the accused’s negligence, the animals were described as being in excellent condition. The court further notes that the accused’s inaction and actions represent a betrayal of a lifetime of farming experience. Also the accused was an experienced cattle farmer. As such, the accused knew he had other options when financial difficulties set in.

When deciding the accused’s sentencing, the court took into consideration that the accused will be working out of province. Also the accused was facing difficult circumstances with the estate and had personal problems. The accused was given a sentence to be served intermittently, followed by parole, and a lifetime animal prohibition.

R v JJBB, 2007 BCPC 426

This was a sentencing hearing for an accused who pleaded guilty to touching a person under the age of 14 for a sexual purpose, possession of child pornography, and inciting a person under the age of 14 to commit bestiality.

The accused was in possession of videos documenting about 30 incidents of sexual conduct by the accused of his niece at the ages of three to five, while entrusted to his care. The videos show the accused, inter alia, licking her genitals and luring dogs to lick her genitals. The girl is shown trying to stop the accused and running away. Furthermore, the accused was in possession of other pornographic imagery depicting children and bestiality.

The court considered as aggravating factors the victim’s age and the accused’s position of trust. It also noted that the accused’s offences were progressing in severity and frequency, and that he even denied certain events despite there being footage of them.

In mitigation, the court accounted for the accused’s plea of guilty, sparing the young girl from testifying. It also considered the accused’s own history as a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of family members, as well as his aboriginal heritage.

The court accepted that denunciation, general deterrence, and separation from society should primarily inform sentencing. Given the accused’s risk of recidivism and the seriousness of the offences, the court found it appropriate to sentence him to 69 months, globally, including 15 months consecutive for the incitement of bestiality involving a young victim. It also issued two 20-year orders, one requiring the accused to comply with the Sex Offender Information Registration Act and another prohibiting him from being in the area of or working with persons under the age of 14.

Notably, the judge felt that the threshold for sentencing for offences involving the sexual touching of a young person and child pornography were too low. Still, she felt bound by precedent to impose the abovementioned sentence.

Sentence: 69 months incarceration (global sentence; 15 months consecutive for incitement of bestiality).

R v MacKenzie 2014 ONCJ; 2015 ONCJ

Sentence and appeal.

This was a sentencing hearing following on from a guilty finding under ss. 445 (a) and 445.1 (a) Criminal Code.

The accused caused the animal unnecessary pain and suffering by strangulation. The accused had been caring for a friend’s dog and applied tape to the dog’s muzzle while the dog had a choker on its neck (breathlessness). The dog was tethered to a tree with a leash and the accused alleges he then went inside and fell asleep for a couple of hours. Ultimately, the animal was killed by strangulation. The accused carried out his actions with indifference for the foreseeable consequences. These actions followed by inaction were somewhat aggravating factors.

In mitigation, the court considered that the accused was forthright and cooperative when the police and Humane Society arrived. Yet the accused’s acts were deliberate, reckless, and found to require denunciation and deterrence. The accused’s actions and inaction were found to have a degree of moral blameworthiness and had a duty to care for the dog.

The accused’s long record of offences which included violence was considered while determining the appropriate duration for the period of incarceration. The accused being on probation at the time of the occurrence was also considered.

The court ordered the accused to a period of four months in custody followed by two years’ probation. The accused was given a ten-year prohibition order pursuant to section 447.1 Criminal Code. A victim fine surcharge in the fixed sum of $100 was also ordered.

The accused appealed the sentence.

The court reviewed the transcript of evidence and the trial judge’s reasons. Concerning ground one, the court found that the trial judge did not err when finding the accused’s conduct to be wilful. Regarding ground two, the court held that there was no evidence to support the contrary of the appellant failing to exercise reasonable care and supervision of the dog. The court affirmed that these findings were deemed to have been wilful.

The court dismissed the appeal as against conviction on both counts. Further, the court noted that it is not this court’s duty to retry the case and substitute its own opinion for that of the trial judge.

R v Hill, 2013 ONCJ 159

Sentencing decision following guilty pleas.

After discharging from a health care facility, Offender broke into the home of a 86 years old victim. Offender charged for (1) break and enter for robbery, (2) unlawful confinement of the victim, and (3) resisting lawful arrest. (Court took note that while in the home, the Offender kicked the victim’s dog.)

In the assessment report, the Offender reported that he formerly abused animals, and watched his friends kill animals while intoxicated. The report concluded that the Offender was at a high risk of reoffending and acting out aggressively, which was an aggravating factor in the sentencing. Other aggravating factors: nature of the offence / victim’s trauma and condition / the offence taking place just 2 days after leaving the treatment centre.

Mitigating factors: Crown’s overwhelming strong case / the admission of guilt / lack of extensive criminal record / Offender is now stabilized and on medication.

For break and entering and robbery: 8 Years in the penitentiary, on top of the 9 months of pre-trial custody that’s been served.
For forcible confinement: 8 years concurrent.
For assault resisting arrest: 6 month concurrent.
(Animal cruelty was not a charge in this matter, just briefly mentioned as a part of the offender’s background.)

R v McPike, 2015 AJ No 1504 ABPC

Trial and sentencing of accused.

Accused and the Complainant had an argument. Accused kicked the Complaintant’s dog down the stairs. The dog yelped but there were no injuries. Accused proceeded to physically assault the Complainant. At trial, Accused was found guilty of assault and cruelty against animals, but acquitted on the possession of weapon charge.

Defence and Crown made joint submissions on sentencing, requesting for 12 months suspended sentence. Under s.447(1), Crown asked for a pet prohibition of 2 years with reporting requirements, on the grounds that the Accused harmed an animal that was defenseless and within his power and control. Defense argued against pet prohibition, arguing that the accused made a impulsive and remorseful decision after a night of drinking.

The Court granted 15 day sentencing on each count, to be served concurrently and intermittently, followed by a 12 month probation. Using discretion, the Court did not make a prohibition against animals.