R v Viitre, 2020 BCSC 1463

The Accused appeals a conviction from the Provincial Court. He was found guilty of throwing his German shepherd puppy across a room, causing it to be in distress. The Accused appealed on the grounds that the Judge could not conclude on a reasonable doubt standard that throwing the puppy across the room caused it to be in continued distress – there was no expert evidence to rely on. The Accused also argued that the Judge’s reasoning was internally inconsistent (the Accused was acquitted of the same offence against another dog) and that he erred with respect to intention.

The Court found that the trial judge was entitled to draw a common sense inference about the dog being in distress based on the evidence provided and accepted (para 27-28). The Court also found that the Trial Judge was consistent in his reasoning – the nature of the offences against the two dogs were different – the first was hit on the snout and the second was thrown (para 32). The Court also rejected the Accused’s argument that the Trial Judge should have taken greater consideration of the fact that the Accused did not intend the harm the dog / there was no malice. The Court held reiterated that where a strict liability offence is concerned, the state of mind of the Accused is only relevant for a due diligence defence, which the Court found was not made out on the facts (para 41).

The Court dismissed the appeal.