R v Paulsen, 2015 BCPC 204679-1

Emma Paulsen owned a dog walking business for 7 years. On May 13th, 2014 Paulsen reported to the RCMP that six dogs had been stolen out of the back of her pick up truck while she was in the washroom at a dog park in Langley. An intensive search and investigation was conducted and resources were used from the RCMP, Animal Control and Pet Searchers Canada, including members of the public. It was not until May 19th, 2014 that Paulsen confessed to Pet Searchers Canada that the dogs had perished in the back of her truck while she was shopping and she had transported the bodies to Chilliwack and left them in a ditch. With this new information, the BC SPCA began an investigation into Paulsen and found that all 6 dogs had perished as a result of heat stroke, one of which belonged to Paulsen.

Although this case was deemed accidental, Paulsen pleaded guilty.

This case is significant as it is one of the few cases in which the accused is convicted of, and receives a strong sentence for, leaving an animal in a hot vehicle. It was also the charge under the (relatively) new section 9.1(1) which creates a positive duty on the part of an owner to protect an animal from a situation that is likely to cause an animal to be in distress (eg. leaving a dog in a car on a hot day).

Mitigating factors included: Paulsen’s mental state at the time in question (having recently had her two sons sent to live with their fathers); Paulsen’s six days of deception toward law enforcement, the media, the BCSPCA, and the owners of the deceased dogs; Paulsen did not apologize or express remorse

R v Hague, 2015 BCPC 237363-1

BC SPCA received a video of an individual kicking a Doberman puppy multiple times in an elevator. There was no physical injury to the dog after the abuse took place, however, a behavioural test was conducted and was able to confirm the dog experienced emotional distress. This video, after being submitted to the BC SPCA, was uploaded to the internet and viewed on an international level. This incident led to Mr. Hague resigning from his CEO position at ‘Centreplate’, offering a public apology, and promising to donate $100,000 to an animal welfare group.

Mr. Hague pleaded guilty and received a $5000 fine, and a 3 year prohibition order.
Crown and prosecution were in agreement on this sentence.

This case is significant as it is one of the first cases where a person is convicted based on only “emotional distress” of an animal.

R v Elliott, 2016 BCPC 38493-1

BC SPCA received a cruelty complaint of a dog tied by a choke chain.
When officers arrived, they observed a metal chain embedded in the dogs neck with an oozing wound. There was a putrid smell emanating from the wound.
Elliott was instructed to take the dog to the vet immediately. Elliott signed custody of the dog over to the BC SPCA due to lack of funds.
Elliott was found guilty of Section 24(1) continuing to allow an animal to be in distress.

This case is significant as it is one of the first tethering cases that resulted in a conviction in British Columbia. Mitigating factors included that Mr. Elliott is First Nations. It was a joint sentencing submission and the judge noted that if it had been up to him, he would have imposed a different (higher) sentence.

R v Marchand, 2016 BCPC 49577-1

BC SPCA responded to a complaint of a rottweiler type dog tethered in a ‘junk pile’. Upon attendance a rottweiler was observed tethered by a choke chain collar to a thick, heavy chain. The dogs’ water bowl was frozen, and her shelter consisted of an old truck canopy with ripped up bedding and therefore she was laying on frozen ground. Between February to April 2014, SPCA Constables attempted to work with Jimmy Marchand in order to rectify the numerous welfare concerns noted. Nothing had changed from the first attendance, to the day of warrant. The SPCA brought a vet when executing the search warrant who determined that the dog was in distress due to inadequate living conditions. The dog was seized, and eventually re-homed.
Marchand entered a guilty plea on the day of his trial.

R v White, 2015 BCPC 79372-1

BC SPCA attended to a call where a dog (“Apollo”) was allegedly living in a cardboard box on the porch of a house. When Constables attended, the owner of Apollo immediately wanted to surrender him. Apollo was observed to be extremely matted and covered in his own feces and was taken to a veterinarian right away and. Due to being in severe pain and discomfort, the dog was aggressive and defensive. Apollo was anesthetized so the vet could shave him. Once Apollo was shaved, he was observed to have overgrown nails and severe infection in both ears with dermatitis covering his body.
Once Apollo was nursed back to health he was adopted out, but sadly was returned and euthanized as he had become extremely aggressive and was a danger to people. This was likely due to lack of socialization and living in pain and distress for many years.
Mitigating factors include: Mr. White pleaded guilty and was in his 70’s at the time of his trial. He is a First Nations man and suffers from numerous health issues.

R v Bee & Wilson, 2014 BCPC 15968-2-C

Wilson and Bee co-owned ‘Molly’, a shepherd/husky mix dog. Bee left Wilson with Molly when she moved out. Wilson pleaded guilty to failing to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter, and care for Molly. The report came in to the RCMP from a local school bus driver who said the dog was always tied outside with no food or water. When RCMP investigated initially, Wilson stated that the dog was being moved and that the dog was okay. Another complaint came in several days later and a different RCMP member attended, this time insisting on viewing Molly. Wilson attempted to sway this Constable as well who persisted and eventually was able to view Molly. Wilson admitted Molly had a collar stuck around her neck that he couldn’t get off. When the Constable viewed Molly it was noted that she was covered in her own urine and feces, the surrounding areas she resided in were also covered. A choke collar was embedded in Molly’s neck, and she was, as the vet described, in the worst case of emaciation or body weight. The collar had to be removed without anesthetic as the vet believed Molly would not survive it.

A pre-sentence report shows: Mr. Wilson has a previous criminal record, including one sexual assault conviction, and two physical assault convictions against his spouse. Mr. Wilson has limited intellectual capacities to deal with problems. He is unemployed and currently receiving support from the band of $235/month. He has a longstanding problem with alcohol and drugs.

Mitigating factors include Mr. Wilson’s deceit toward the constables, and that Mr. Wilson tried to avoid the examination of the dog by the constables. Also, Mr. Wilson’s awareness of the problem with the collar and the conditions in which the dog was kept, and his subsequent failure to take action. Mr. Wilson showed remorse by pleading guilty early in the trial.

R v Barker, 2017 BCPC 166293-1

Ms. Barker was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. She allowed her 4 month old pit bull puppy, Barrett, to become so malnourished due to illness, that he passed away. Although Ms. Barker did take Barrett to the vet after SPCA intervention, it had become too late at that point. Necropsy results found Barrett to be severely emaciated, he tested positive for Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper Virus, and pneumonia.

Mitigating factors in this case are that Ms. Barker enrolled herself in counselling prior to trial, is First Nations and had the community support of the Ucluelet First Nation band. As such, Gladue factors were considered. Barker also showed remorse for her actions and insight into her offending behaviour.

R v Cunningham, 2014 BCSC 150

Cunningham and Whiffen appealed their conviction for causing unnecessary pain and suffering to a horse, under 445.1(1) and a judicial stay on 446(1)(b). The grounds of appeal were based on the evidence of Ms. Sabourin, who was present at the time the horse was purchased and later moved onto the farm for a brief period. Ms. Sabourin was a veterinary assistant and offered Whiffen and Cunningham advice for the horse’s special diet when she became concerned about his weight loss. She repeated this on multiple occasions during the few months she lived on the farm. The appellants contested that Ms. Sabourin taking over care of the horse broke the causative link necessary for any criminal liability on their part.

The judge dismissed the appeal of each appellant.

R v Cunningham and Whiffen, 2011 BCPC 0358

Whiffen bought a small horse for his children to ride. Cunningham lived on Whiffen’s farm and looked after the horses. The horse was in good condition when it was purchased by Whiffen, and the seller provided him with information on the horse’s special feeding requirements. After one year of living with Whiffen, the horse was emaciated and had lost 300 to 400 pounds.

After many consultations with an SPCA officer, Whiffen said he did not want to put any more money into the horse and that he was left with no choice but to put him down. Whiffen made an appointment with a vet to euthanize the horse. Cunningham removed the horse from the farm without Whiffen’s knowledge, and later euthanized him by tying three ropes around his neck, lifting him with an excavator, and subsequently snapping his neck.

Both accused were found guilty; Whiffen as the owner of the horse and Cunningham as the caretaker. Cunningham and Whiffen were both aware of the horse’s special dietary requirements and did nothing to help the animal, thus failing to provide suitable and adequate food which caused unnecessary suffering.  A witness was able to testify that the horse’s neck snapping caused him immediate death and he did not suffer in that instance.

Acquitted on count 1 – 445(1); guilty on count 2 – 445.1(1)(a); and, judicial stay on count 3 – 446(1)(b)

R v Ruvinsky, 1998 ONPC 3485

Ruvinsky, a manager of after hours clubs in Toronto, allegedly allowed his dogs to lick and sniff cocaine. A former sex worker, “Crazy Jennie” Rowden notified the police that Ruvinsky had sexual intercourse with his Doberman. The Toronto Humane Society, in conjunction with the police, seized the dogs without a warrant. “Crazie Jennie”‘s evidence did not hold up in court. The THS was determined to have acted in good faith, despite the lack of a warrant, and its actions were justified by the urgency and severity of the allegations.