R v Florence, [2018] OJ No 5591, 2018 ONCJ 872, [2018] O.J. No. 6736 (QL)

The accused was living with his partner and the events occured when her two daughters had come to visit. The accused had been acting strangely: during one incident he was waving a knife and he had made numerous threats to seriously injure the partner and her children.  On the particular day in question, following further threats, the partner and children left the accused alone in the apartment with the dog.

The accused reported to having heard voices telling him to cleanse the dog from evil. He stabbed the dog at least three times in the throat area. The accused left the injured dog and went to have breakfast. On return he told neighbours what he had done and the police were alerted. The dog survived.

The accused pled guilty to maiming, wounding, or injuring an animal, contrary to Section 445(2) of the Criminal Code.

He was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the attack. He had a history of alcohol and drug abuse and had been sexually abused as a child. He had made several attempts at reform and had established a number of community programs aimed at rehabilitation. Letters of support were provided (including from the partner) attesting  to the accused’s character and the good work he had done for the community.

This decision includes a useful summary of previous decisions on sentencing for animal abuse cases. The Court considered sentencing decisions in:  R v Heifer; R v Connors; R v Alcorn; R v Wright; R v Munroe; R v Hill; and R v Tremblay). The Court held  that in the circumstances the drug-induced psychosis was a mitigating (rather than aggravating) factor. Crown sought a two year jail term less pre-sentence custody, a weapons prohibition, DNA for the DNA databank and a lifetime animal ownership ban. The accused was given six months imprisonment for the animal cruelty charge (in addition to sentences for the other offences), a probationary period of two years, a 20 year animal prohibition order, a weapons prohibition and blood taken to the DNA databank.