R v McKay, 2012 BCPC 4076-1

The accused and his wife separated, leaving him with the care of their dog. The court found he was guilty of starving the dog to death over four to eight weeks: it was found frozen one week after its death in the doghouse outside and weighed one half its normal weight. The accused claims someone stole the dog for three weeks, starved it and then returned it. The court did not believe his evidence. Expert evidence showed there was no body fat anywhere on the dog when it died.

The Crown argued for 90 days in jail and a 10 year prohibition on possessing or owning animals.  The accused was self-represented and argued for a fine and community service. He agreed to the 10 year prohibition.

The court considered the following mitigating circumstances: the accused was young (32); he was employed with good prospects for the future; minimal and dated criminal record; currently in a family dispute in family court. The guilty plea was not a mitigating factor because it was made the day of trial.

The court considered the following aggravating circumstances: callous disregard for the dog; and length of suffering (“day after day for weeks on end show a level of callousness not often seen”).

The court refused to consider a conditional sentence given the circumstances and ordered a 90 sentence as the Crown requested to be served intermittently. This was to recognize that he was well employed during the week with a spouse and child to support.