The accused was charged with s.445.1 (1) (a), wilfully permitting her animals to be caused unnecessary pain and suffering, and s.446 (1) (b) by wilfully neglecting to provide animals with suitable and adequate care after RCMP and SPCA officers conducted a joint search of the residence, where they discovered and removed 17 animals from the home: seven dogs, some of whom were wearing prong collars and on a choke chain, at least eight cats, and two to three kittens. Upon arrival the officers noted an overwhelming stench of stale urine and feces upon entering the home that the neighbour could smell from his carport. Several of the animals were in cages and veterinarian examination revealed that they had several health issues including skin conditions and conjunctivitis, were underweight and poorly socialized.
The conditions in the home showed evidence of hoarding, with animal waste and debris that constituted a health hazard for the animals and the accused. The accused had complained of having chest pains; the RCMP constable contacted Emergency Health services and decided to apprehend the accused under the Mental Health Act.
The accused disputed the seizure of her animals and emailed the SPCA repeatedly to demand they be returned. At trial, she admitted to being forgetful, but asserted that she took good care of her animals. She denied writing the emails to the SPCA and did not believe that some of the photographic evidence were her animals or her home.
The Court determined that while it was clear that the accused loved her animals, she was an unreliable witness who gave scattered testimony and seemed to only remember a few of the animals’ names. In the decision, the judge stated that they took “little comfort in finding a well-meaning 73-year-old lady criminally responsible for the wilful neglect of her animals. But the reality is this woman was reckless as to the fact that 17 or 18 animals were housed in deplorable conditions, with many experiencing pain and suffering due to those conditions” (para. 199)
The accused was found guilty on both charges.