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.