R v Edwards, [2022] AJ No 1289

The accused was taking care of his girlfriend’s 10-week-old kitten while she was away when he became frustrated because the kitten urinated on him. He proceeds to throw the kitten against the wall and subject him to a hot water “bath”, causing the kitten injuries consistent with either very hot water or bleach. When his girlfriend returned, the accused had attempted to cover up what he had done and manipulated his girlfriend into saying that she had left the kitten with her cousin when she took him for veterinary care.

The kitten’s other injuries resulted in the amputation of the tips of both ears, amputation of the tip of the tail, amputation of all the toes on its hind feet, and amputation mid paw. According to a veterinary expert’s report, the cat will endure chronic pain due to nerve damage, and eventually get arthritis which will shorten his life..

The judge recognized this as a serious criminal code offence, stating “I do not need to own a pet to know that this is a horrible, horrible offence. And these animals cannot fight back, they cannot take care of themselves. They are totally at the mercy of the people who are caring for them at the time” (para. 434), and also acknowledged the breach of trust not only to the kitten but also his girlfriend.

The accused’s mitigating factors included a guilty plea, having been in custody for 338 days, and his psychiatric reports indicating that he suffered from mental health issues with a cannabis use disorder that caused occasional substance-induced psychosis and antisocial, narcissistic and borderline personality disorders. Aggravating factors were the gravity of the offence, the attempt to cover up the crime, and that the accused has a high risk for future violent behaviour and a moderate elevated risk for intimate partner violence (para. 346).

After balancing the aggravating and mitigating factors, the judge ordered a sentence of 18 months of imprisonment, 12 months of probation, and a lifetime ban on the ownership, care, control or residing with animals.