R v J.S. 2004 NLPC

J.S. is accused of causing unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury to a bird in violation of section 446(1)(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada, R.S.C. 1985. He is considered a “young person” under the Young Offenders Act, R.S.C. 1985, and the Youth Criminal Justice Act, S.C. 2002. 

Ms. K. testified that on December 29th, 2002, she and her father were watching the water for seals. She was doing so with a pair of binoculars. Ms. K. testified that she saw J.S. and her cousin (J.B.) on the beach shooting a pellet gun at a crow. The crow collapsed to the ground. J.S. or J.B., she testified, tied a string to the crow and dragged it back to J.S.’s yard. Ms. K. testified that she saw J.S. and J.B. throw the crow into the air so that J.S.’s dog would jump toward it. According to Ms. K., the crow was caught by the dog, and the boys took it from the dog and threw it back into the air. Ms. K. testified that the crow was alive and that she could tell it was in pain by the sounds it made. She described the crow as “bawling” and said the sound it was making was different from what a crow normally makes. She described it as “horrible.”

The Crown only needs to prove the existence of pain, suffering, or injury for a conviction to be entered under subsection 446(1)(a) of the Code. As a result, the Court must exercise caution not to interpret these distinct words in a way that fails to distinguish them. To define injury as meaning to suffer, for example, would unnecessarily limit the scope of this provision. An animal can certainly experience pain without being injured.

The judge determined that the Crown failed to establish beyond a reasonable.