R v Zhou, 2018 BCPC – Judgment

The accused ran a dog day care and dog breeding facility and was responsible for cats, kittens, dogs and puppies. Between August 2012 and February 2017 the BC SPCA attended the accused’s property multiple times regarding animal cruelty complaints. The accused was issued with notices on a number of occasions and failed to comply, with the result that animals were seized on multiple occasions.

In February 2016, 69 cats and 16 dogs were seized: they were found with untreated respiratory infection, ringworm and/or giardia and were kept in inadequate living conditions (heat, light, ventilation, unsanitary) and confinement. Some of the animals were found in an attic which was hot, inadequately ventilated and had no light. Two cats had to be euthanised.

The accused was charged under section 9.1(2) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (the “Act”) for causing or permitting an animal to be, or continue to be, in distress.

The accused was found guilty. With regards the animals found in the attic, it was determined that the accused placed them there shortly after the SPCA arrived, so they had not been in the attic for more than 10 or 15 minutes. However the court held that the definition of animals in distress under the Act does not set out a minimum time that an animal must be kept in a condition for the animal to be found to be in distress. In the circumstances, the court found these animals to be in distress for these 10 or 15 minutes. The court accepted that the defence of due diligence does not require perfect standards, however it rejected this defence given the condition that the animals were found in.

For sentencing see here.