R v Clarke & Clarke, 2001 CanLII 12453 NLPC

A volunteer of the SPCA found several dogs in pens or chained on the property of the accused (Mr. and Mrs. Clarke) without food or water. The circumstances were allegedly unchanged on a third visit to the site, so the volunteer had all dogs seized and placed in new homes, including the healthy dogs. No explanation had ever been given to the Clarkes as to why the dogs were seized. According to the judge, the volunteer was in no position to conduct a proper investigation under the criminal code and should not have been given this authority by the SPCA.

A veterinarian’s examination of the dogs showed that one was too thin but not necessarily underfed, and the others were generally in good condition with no evidence of dehydration. Mr. and Mrs. Clarke were charged with cruelty to animals with little to no supportive evidence. Both were then acquitted as the evidence was insufficient in proving beyond a reasonable doubt that either Mr. or Mrs. Clarke willfully allowed or caused their animals to suffer. The mere fact that the dogs were thin was not proof of cruelty in and of itself.

Accused acquitted.

Good analysis of mens rea requirements for neglect and unnecessary – however, that analysis should now be done with reference to BCCA in Gerling.