R v Elliott, 2009 NSPC 5

Elliott operated a farm with a herd of about 75 cattle in adequate conditions, but SPCA located about 23 dead cattle carcasses on his property. Elliott claimed he could not sell any cattle due to contamination by military aircraft that flew over his property. Elliott was hoping that the Department of National Defense would compensate him for the contaminated cattle. The SPCA provided hay for Elliot’s cattle and advised Elliot to reduce the size of his herd. It became clear that the accused was waiting for all but a select few of his cattle to die. Some months later the SPCA seized 138 cattle and euthanized those that were unable to survive.

It was found that the accused failed to provide adequate food, water, shelter, and care for his cattle. Elliott decided on a course of action that willfully caused unnecessary pain, suffering, and injury to his cattle. He was found to be the owner of the cattle, and was solely responsible for their well-being, which he conceded in many letters he wrote to the SPCA. Elliott failed to provide any evidence of testing to show contamination of his cattle, and the neighbouring farm had not suffered from the alleged contamination problems. Thus, Elliott was found guilty on both counts.

Accused found guilty.

R v Murphy, 2010 NSPC 4

Trial. Accused charged with animal abuse, uttering threat and careless firearm. Dispute over whether the dog was attacking the neighbour’s chickens. In front of children accused shot the dog in leg that had to be amputated. This was not the first time the dog had paid a visit. On other occasions the dog had come over and killed, at various times, 10 to 15 of his chickens.

The accused pleaded defence of property. The Crown argued that the children suffered or were likely to suffer psychological harm as a result of the shooting of the dog.

Held: Convicted of animal abuse, acquitted of other charges, issues with credibility. Defence of property did not apply because the dog was not in the midst of attacking the chickens.

R v Vaillancourt, 2003 CarswellNS 493

Charged with criminal neglect, 446 and distress under provincial legislation. Crown stayed the criminal charges. Accused argued the provincial legislation was ultra vires the province as being criminal in nature and that the search and seizure provisions of the Act infringed s.7 and 8 of the Charter.

Held: the Criminal Code was broader even though they dealt with the same subject matter. The Province had not usurped the role of the Feds. Given both legislation used same language there was harmony and no conflict. A person wouldn’t be in breach to follow the other. The search and search warrant powers were an overreach and a breach of section 8 not saved by section 1 of the Charter.

Charges stayed.

R v Wagner, 1986 CarswellNS 626 NSPC

The accused shot the a dog kept for a lawful purpose. The judge accepted the dog wasn’t a danger to anyone and if it was on the accused’s property it was only marginally so. The judge did accepted, however, that the accused was shooting at anything and didn’t know it was a dog. In other words the Crown needs to prove the accused knew he was shooting a kept animal. Because there was not sufficient evidence that Wagner knew he was shooting at a dog, his act was deemed not to be “wilfull”.

Accused found not guilty.

R v McLellan, 1989 Doc SCC 02127

The accused damaged the complainant’s property during a heavy drinking binge with friends. The complainant found a machete on the property and noticed a cut on a calf’s leg. There was evidence at trial that the cattle had been disturbed that night and that there were hairs on the machete consistent with bovine hair. The evidence, however, did not establish which of the men, if any, inflicted the damage to the calf. The circumstances, while highly suspicious, did not meet the test of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Accused acquitted.

R v Whelan, 2013 CanLII 38685 NLPC

Lady, the dog, was emaciated. Her ribs, spine and hip bones were easily visible from a distance. She had lost a whole layer of body fat and her muscle was wasting. Lady was infested by fleas. Two people independently of each other saw Lady chained to a wire behind her owner’s house. The veterinarian testified that the dog weighed 35 pounds. She determined that an appropriate weight for the dog would be somewhere between 50-55 pounds.

(information received verbally from St. John’s courthouse staff): Sentenced 19 June 2013. (1) suspended sentence with probation for 12 months (2) ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $748.40 to the SPCA (3) prohibition not to own, be in the custody of, or reside in the same premised as a dog for 3 years.

R v J.S., 2003 NJ No 225 NLPC

Trial of JS on a charge of causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to a bird. JS was a young person. A witness testified that she saw JS shoot a crow with a pellet gun and then tie a string around its neck. JS then would throw the crow up into the air so that his dog could catch it. The witness stated that the crow was alive at the time. JS testified that the dog had caught a crow and that two of his friends had tied the string to the crow.

Held: JS was acquitted. The Crown had not proved the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. There was some doubt that it was JS who had mistreated the crow.

Good wording about definitions of pain, suffering, injury and unnecessary. Judge also clearly highlights that the words pain, suffering or injury are SEPERATE from one another and the crown need not prove all three (must only prove one of them).

Accused acquitted.

R v Higgins, 1996 NJ No 237 NLPC

Crown appeal from acquittal on a charge of unnecessary pain, suffering or injury. The accused had discovered his cat had knocked over the garbage. He swung a broom at the cat and chased it. The cat broke its leg in the case. Accused conceded the broom may have hit the cat. Accused acquitted because the judge accepted he did not intent to hit the cat, simply wanted to scare the cat.

Held: Appeal dismissed. The trial judge had taken the accused’s recklessness into account in determining intent but the onus of intent fell on the Crown and there was sufficient evidence to sustain the trial judge’s finding that Higgins did not intend to injure the cat.

NL SPCA v Harding, 2002 NFCA 14

A dog struggled on the operating table, while being anaesthetized which led to his veterinarian being charged with causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, for allegedly stabbing Remington in the nose with a needle and punching him in the ribs.

Leave to appeal is granted. The appeal is dismissed with the result that the acquittals of Richard Harding will stand. The appeal is allowed, as outlined above, with respect to that part of the judgment of the summary conviction appeal court which deals with the computation of the six month limitation period for the filing of a summary conviction information.

Appeal from a conviction on 1 count and an acquittal on another count. The Court of Appeal found errors in the manner in which the trial judge had handled the W.D. analysis. The accused was acquitted of all counts.

Also see [2001] N.J. No. 362 (Nfld CA) application to extend notice of appeal – granted and first appeal decision at [2000] N.J. No. 309 (NfldSC)

Harding v NL SPCA, 2000 CanLII 20379 NLSC

A dog struggled on the operating table, while being anaesthetized which led to his veterinarian being charged with causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, for allegedly stabbing Remington in the nose with a needle and punching him in the ribs.

The cross appeal is dismissed. Harding’s appeal is allowed and the charges against him dismissed.