The accused’s neighbours, including an eight year old girl, visited the accused to show him their new kitten. The accused was intoxicated and became angry at his pet rabbit and the neighbours. He threatened to throw his pet rabbit, who the little girl often played with, off his 10th floor balcony. After holding the rabbit aloft over the side of his balcony for a few seconds, the accused let go. The rabbit died upon impact and the accused disposed of its body in his garbage chute.
The Ontario Court of Justice (“ONCJ”) convicted the accused under s. 445.1(1)(a) of the Criminal Code on one count of causing unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury to an animal. The ONCJ judge weighed all aggravating factors and recognized the accused suffered from alcohol and substance abuse, but despite being presented with options to help these issues, the accused minimized the impact of his addictions and did not make use of the resources available to him. The judge considered the accused’s long criminal record, including serious crimes of violence, and that the accused showed no remorse for his behaviour.
The accused was sentenced to nine months imprisonment followed by two years of probation. The sentencing judge issued a restitution order of $610.20 to be paid to the Humane Society. A weapons prohibition order for ten years was also issued, as well as a prohibition order preventing the accused from owning, having the custody of, or control of, or residing in the same premises as an animal or bird for life.
On appeal, the accused argued his sentence was “harsh, excessive, and unwarranted.” The appellate judge ruled that the sentencing judge adequately weighed aggravating and mitigation factors in sentencing the accused, especially considering the maximum sentence the accused could have received was eighteen months. The appellate judge dismissed the accused’s appeal and upheld the original sentence.