R v Slowinski, 2021 ABPC 160

Facts: Accused and Complainant shared a fence in their backyards. On two occasions, while both the Accused and Complainant were in their back yards, one dog, Moose, jumped over the short fence and bit the Complainant for approximately 30 seconds.

Charges: Two charges under the City of Edmonton Animal Licensing and Control Bylaw.

Held: Accused found guilty of (1) failure to leash a dog off property, and (2) allowing a dog to attack causing injury. The bylaw is regulatory in nature and does not require mens rea.

R v Huston, 2021 ABPC 108

Facts: 65-year-old accused pled guilty to beating a cat until death, allegedly believing that the cat had eaten something poisonous and the cat would die anyway. The cat had other unexplained injuries.

Crown: Sought 12-months imprisonment.

Defence: Sought suspended sentence.

Sentence: 12-month conditional sentence, followed by 18-months probation, and a 3-year animal prohibition. Judge found that a 6-9 month jail sentence would have been appropriate (does not mention, but pandemic influence may be present here).

R v Aleck, 2021 BCPC 75;170

Facts: Accused charged with domestic assault and animal cruelty for two separate events. The first event involved the Complainant blocking the Accused from leaving their shared apartment. He pushed her away so he could leave (Charge: assault). Separately, the Accused had gifted a kitten to the Complainant. One day while the kitten was sleeping, the Accused picked up a selfie stick and struck the sleeping kitten on the head three times. The kitten immediately died (Charge: willfully causing unnecessary pain).

Analysis: Judge discusses mens rea, concluding that the accused knew or ought to have known that his actions would cause unnecessary pain.

Held: Accused  acquitted of assault (self-defence), but convicted of animal cruelty.

Sentence: Suspended sentence, 16-months probation, 1-year animal prohibition.

R v C.H., 2021 ABPC 119

Facts:  CH grew up in foster care, and both his parents had new relationships and new children. When CH was 13, he entered a sexually assaultive relationship with a 49-year-old man. CH admitted to regularly viewing bestiality pornography, child pornography, and numerous occasions of sexual encounters with dogs. Accused was diagnosed with a pedophilic disorder and zoophelia and began attending Sexual Addicts Anonymous.

Charges: 28-year-old accused pled guilty to 6 charges, including bestiality, possessing child pornography, distributing child pornography, sexually assaulting a minor (his half-brother), and making child pornography.

Crown: Sought a 11.5-year global sentence (1-year concurrent for bestiality).

Defence: Sought a 6.5-year global sentence (6-months for bestiality).

Sentence: 8 years imprisonment (minus 6 months PTC)(6 months concurrent for bestiality, 5-year animal prohibition). The Judge discussed globality in sentencing.

R v Laplante, 2011 SKCA 43

Laplante operated a ‘cat rescue program.’ The residence was searched by animal protection officers, RCMP officers and a veterinarian pursuant to a search warrant. The animals were found to be living in distress due to the unsanitary conditions and without adequate water. The SPCA seized a forty-four cats, seven turtles, one iguana, and one dog. The also seized the corpse of a dead cat.

Laplante brought an application to return the seized animals and claimed that the search warrant was obtained in breach of the Charter. The Chambers judge dismissed the application.

On this appeal, Cameron, Richards, and Smith JJ.A. allowed the appeal in part. The granted the return of the iguana and dog, finding no reason to believe they would be at risk of harm if returned. However, the forty-four cats and seven turtles were rightfully seized and no ordered to be returned.

R v Miller, 2020 ABPC 92

This was a sentencing hearing following early guilty pleas to charges of animal cruelty and breach of recognizance, pursuant to ss. 445(1)(a) and 145(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

The Accused’s girlfriend could not keep her kitten (“Prince”) at her group home, therefore the accused became the primary caretaker of Prince. After a series of heated arguments, the accused hit Prince on the head multiple times and threw him to the floor. This was filmed by the Accused and sent to his girlfriend. Prince sustained extensive injuries and the accused’s girlfriend convinced him to bring Prince to a nearby 24-hour vet clinic. There the Accused lied and stated he found Prince in an alley, already badly injured. The Accused also lied to police that he had taken Prince to a veterinarian after hitting him off a side table.

For sentencing, the Court considered aggravating factors such as the grave nature of the offence, his motive, his premeditated and deliberate actions, Prince being particularly vulnerable, lying at the veterinarian clinic, having a moderate risk of future violent misconduct, and not being a first offender. The Court also considered the accused’s mental health, including his anger management problems, and it’s possible effect on sentencing in reference to R v Manyshots 2018 ABPC 17, at paras 57-61. However, the Court did not find any evidence to support reducing moral blameworthiness of the accused or the weight to be given to general deterrence as a sentencing principle because of the accused’s mental disorders. The Court held that the extensive news media coverage in this case mitigated the need for a specific deterrence. But for the accused’s early guilty pleas, his youth, unfortunate personal circumstances, lack or any related adult criminal record, his continued community support, and this being his first custodial sentence, the Court would have imposed 18 months imprisonment, as the Crown Counsel requested.

The Court ultimately held that the appropriate sentence would be a period of twelve months imprisonment followed by two years’ probation. Pursuant to section 447.1 of the Criminal Code, the accused was also given a lifetime animal prohibition order. For the breach of recognizance offence, the Court found that a fit sentence would be one-month imprisonment held concurrently.

R v McKinlay, 2020 BCSC 1381

Ms. McKinlay (“the Accused”) was convicted of wilfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to a large number of her farm animals and wilfully failing to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care for them contrary to ss. 445.1(1)(a) and 446(1)(b) of the Criminal Code. She was sentenced to 4 month’s imprisonment under a conditional sentence order and a prohibition order that prohibit her from owning, having custody or control of, or residing in the same premises as an animal or bird for ten years. The trial judge made an exception for her five cats and two dogs. The accused appealed.

The accused appealed on the basis of having “fresh evidence” and on the basis that her defence counsel was ineffective. The accused provided photographs of healthy animals (sheep and pigs) not owned by her, and pictures of her own animals for comparison. The accused submit that her property had been flooded and she was in the process of moving her animals and building new pens when the SPCA investigated. She claimed that aside from 2 underweight sows and one piglet with a broken leg, her animals were healthy. The BCSC did not accept this evidence as Crown and defence witnesses were extensively examined and cross-examined, and numerous photographs had been analyzed.

The BCSC concluded the trial judge had properly instructed the jury and sufficiently analyzed all evidence when sentencing the accused. The BCSC dismissed the appeal and upheld the trial judge’s sentence.

Note: Accused have been previously convicted of assault with a weapon (wooden spoon) against her special needs child.

R v Gouin, 2020 ONCJ 114

Mr. Gouin (“the Accused”) agreed to care for Ms. Johnson-Lumapas’ small dog after she learned she could not keep it in her new apartment. The dog had a history of being wary of men after being abused, and showed signs of stress acclimating to her new environment.

When Ms. Johnson-Lumapas returned to the accused’s apartment after going out, she saw her dog lying in the corner with blood coming out of its eyes. The dog was “barely breathing” and her tongue was hanging out of her mouth. The accused claimed his cats had scratched the dog’s eyes and attempted to dissuade Ms. Johnson-Lumapas from seeking medical attention for the dog.

Medical examination by veterinarians showed the dog’s injuries were consistent with multiple, repeated blunt force trauma that “would not have been possible from a cat”. Due to the extent of the dog’s injuries and suffering, the dog was euthanized. Ms. Johnson-Lumapas repeatedly asked the accused what happened to her dog, but the accused denied having anything to do with the dog’s injuries.

Based on a lengthy analysis of the evidence presented in the case concerning the accused’s growing frustration with the dog’s behaviour and his failure to seek medical attention for her, the Ontario Court of Justice found the accused guilty of injuring an animal contrary to s. 445 of the Criminal Code and wilfully causing, or permitted to be caused, unnecessary suffering to an animal, contrary to s. 445.1 of the Criminal Code. Awaiting Sentencing.

R v Reykdal, 2020 NBCA 13

The Appellant (Reykdal) killed his girlfriend’s cat after it bit him. Reykdal was charged under s. 445 of the Criminal Code (“Code”) with killing an animal without lawful excuse. He was convicted in Provincial Court and sentenced to four months incarceration. Reykdal appealed to the Summary Conviction Appeal Court, where the trial judge’s sentence was set aside, and the appellant received a conditional discharge and restitution order of a $500 donation to the SPCA. The issue in question at the New Brunswick Court of Appeal (“NBCA”) was whether the Summary Conviction Appeal Court erred in setting aside the trial judge’s sentence.

The permissible scope of appellate intervention on sentence appeals is narrow. A court cannot change a sentence unless the sentence was imposed by a mistake of law, an error in principle, or if the sentence is clearly unreasonable. The NBCA found the trial judge sufficiently invoked the principles of sentencing outlined in s. 718 of the Code, including that incarceration should be used as a last resort, and found the trial judge had sufficiently considered all factors of the case. The trial judge recognized that Reykdal suffered mental health problems and substance abuse, felt remorse for his actions, and had no prior criminal record. The trial judge also recognized the cat’s death was excruciatingly painful and cruel.

The trial judge was not required to review decisions of similar cases from other jurisdictions. In New Brunswick, there is virtually no appellate level jurisprudence regarding the appropriate period of incarceration in animal cruelty cases. The NBCA noted that patterns in Ontario jurisprudence showed those with prior criminal records, especially pertaining to animal abuse, will likely serve longer sentences. Based on stricter prior sentences in Ontario, some ranging from twelve months to two years, the NBCA decided that four months incarceration is neither unfit nor unreasonable in the circumstances of this case. The NBCA reinstated the trial judge’s sentence of four months incarceration and corrected the trial judge’s prohibition order to reflect the proper section number under the Code (s. 447.1(1)), which prohibits Reykdal from possessing any domestic animal for five years.

R v Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd., 2013 BCSC 1059

The defendants had contracted with Roberge Transport to transport culled dairy cows from BC to Alberta. The transport vehicle was stopped by the CFIA and three cows were euthanized due to their conditions.

The defendants were charged under s. 65(1)(b) Health of Animals Act for with unlawfully causing cows to be loaded and transported which could not be transported without undue suffering during their expected journey in violation of s. 138(2) of the Health of Animals Regulations (section now repealed). The Crown must establish a causal link between the transportation, the undue suffering and the animals’ infirmity.

The trial judge found that, before they were loaded, the cows had been inspected and no signs of any conditions that would have caused them to experience undue suffering during the expected journey of about 13 hours were observed. He also found that the cause of the cows’ deterioration between the loading and unloading was not known.

The defendants were found not guilty because the actus reus was not proven. Further, the defendants had exercised due diligence in their loading practices and in hiring Roberge to transport the cattle for the expected journey.

The judge noted that the Crown could have charged the driver for his role as transporter, based on the departures he knew would occur from the journey expected and undue suffering this could cause.