R v Dauvin, 2022 SKPC

In January 2o22, Travis Mark Dauvin was charged with two animal cruelty offences under the Criminal Code for injuring one then-girlfriend’s Rottweiler puppy and killing a different then-girlfriend’s Maltese named Jake in two separate events occurring months apart in the first half of 2020.

At the time of each incident, the dogs had belonged to the accused’s different girlfriends. In January 2020, Brita was beaten with a broken broom handle during a domestic argument. Jake was found to have had suffered multiple blunt force traumas, a punctured lung from one of four broken ribs and bruising around his neck in a necropsy examination. The incident that led to Jake’s death occurred in May 2020 after tension had been building between the dog and the accused, who claimed that Jake had bitten him earlier and that the dog had fallen down the stairs when his then-girlfriend questioned him about Jake’s injuries.

After several pretrial conferences, the initial single information was split into two separate informations: one for the abuse of Brita and the other for the abuse resulting in Jake’s death.

The accused was found guilty on the first information under section 445.1(1)(a) of the Criminal Code at trial, with a date for sentencing to be set on August 22nd. The sentencing hearing was delayed until October as he sought new defence counsel.

The trial was set for August 15th for the second information regarding Jake’s death, however the accused pleaded guilty to killing the dog wilfully and without lawful excuse. In an agreed statement of facts, it was revealed that Jake was thrown into a metal clothing rack after biting the accused when he attempted to pick the dog up.

Dauvin was sentenced for killing Jake on September 23rd with a six-month community sentence with conditions that include anger management and personal counselling as directed by his supervisor, 120 hours of community service, and a curfew of 10PM to 6AM, followed by one year of probation. The judge also instituted a prohibition order against the sole possession or control of any animal for three years, with such wording chosen to allow him to live with his current partner’s support dog but not be alone with the animal. He was also ordered to pay Jake’s guardian $2680 in restitution.

On October 14th, Dauvin was fined $2,000 for beating Brita. The Crown prosecutor stated that it would be redundant to seek additional probation conditions in Brita’s case because the judge in case had already imposed conditions to address Dauvin’s anger management issues.

Although there have been no written decisions in either of these cases, the linked articles from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix made record of some excellent language used by the judges in their sentencing decisions.

Judge Donna Scott called Dauvin’s response “an excessive overreaction” during sentencing and noted that Jake, the 11-pound Maltese, did not pose a threat and non-violent responses were available. Judge Scott also stated that “the protection of animals is viewed as a barometer of a person’s treatment of people”.

When Dauvin testified that he was upset that Brita had destroyed multiple items and left feces and urine in the garage, that he lied about hitting her with the broom handle because wanted to get his then-girlfriend’s attention, and that he wasn’t getting any help and was getting frustrated, Judge Doug Agnew declared in his decision that the accused’s explanation was “ridiculous” and questioned why the broom handle was in his hand if he wasn’t using it. Judge Agnew also found that while he was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the assault on Brita happened in the way it was described by Dauvin’s former girlfriend, the accused “convicts himself through his evidence”.

We are grateful for the additional information provided by Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan in these matters.