CALGARY SUN | OCTOBER 26, 2010
By Kevin Martin
Leaving her elderly cat’s broken leg untreated for months, until it became gangrenous and fell off, has landed a Calgary woman a $2,000 fine.
And provincial court Judge Bruce Millar on Thursday also slapped Marlene Payne with a lifetime ban on owning pets, despite a Crown request for only a five-year prohibition.
“It seems simple to me that if people can’t look after, or care for a pet, they shouldn’t be pet owners,” Millar said. “In my view you should never own a pet again so there will be a lifetime prohibition.”
Payne, 57, pleaded guilty to a charge under the Animal Protection Act of allowing an animal to suffer, in this case her cat, Simonne.
Crown prosecutor Gord Haight said Payne first brought the feline to a veterinary clinic on July 18, 2009, suffering a leg injury.
She was told by staff the animal likely had a broken leg, but there was no technician present to do an x-ray and she should make an appointment to have it checked later, said Haight.
But Payne never got the injury checked, misunderstanding the instructions and believing the cat’s diagnosis of untreatable diabetes was the greater concern, he said.
But by March 3, of this year the injury had become so badly infected Payne brought the pet in for further treatment and it had to be euthanized, said Haight.
“The cat was in poor body condition, but most significantly was missing its right hind leg,” Haight told Millar.
He said the untreated broken leg from eight months earlier had “become gangrenous and fallen off.”
Defence lawyer Danusia Bourdon, who agreed to speak for the unrepresented Payne, said the city woman believed the diabetes diagnosis on her earlier visit was the greatest concern.
“She understood that the vet’s main concern was not the leg injury, but the diabetes,” said Bourdon, adding the 18-year-old feline was considered a family member.
Payne was told that at that age it would be useless to treat the diabetes with insulin and believed the lost limb was as a result of the disease.
“Looking back now Ms. Payne recognizes that she could and should have gone to a vet sooner.”
Outside court, DAISY Foundation spokeswoman Heather Anderson applauded Millar’s decision to hand Payne a lifetime ban on owning pets. “A leg falling off, that’s not just an abscess that wasn’t taken care of,” Anderson said.
CALGARY HERALD — SEPTEMBER 29, 2010
A pet owner is going to jail for 30 days after flying into an uncontrollable rage when he returned home to find his seven-month-old German shepherd had damaged some furniture.
“What started out as disciplining the dog turned into physical abuse,” Crown prosecutor Gord Haight told court Tuesday after Thomas James Norman, 23, pleaded guilty to causing pain and suffering to the dog, Aurora.
“The dog was beaten to the point it ultimately fractured its femur — one of its legs — and suffered internal injuries, including a bleeding liver,” said Haight.
The prosecutor said once it was clear to Norman and his common-law wife that the dog had suffered significant injuries on July 15, 2008, they took it to the vet.
He said they couldn’t afford treatment, so they surrendered the dog to the Calgary Humane Society.
Norman has been prohibited from owning or possessing animals for two years.
NADIA MOHARIB | Calgary Sun
Delivering a deadly kick to a young cat earned a Calgary man a fine of $1,800 [plus $270 for the victim fine surcharge], community service and a two-year ban on owning animals.
But in a joint submission, Darren Ronald Lesy was given an exception to see the golden retriever, named Harley, allowed to live with him and his wife although the dog’s care and control will be the responsibility of his spouse.
Lesy, who was 23 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty at an earlier court appearance and was sentenced Wednesday.
In the April 27, 2007, attack, the cat named Sage died after being kicked in the head.
Court heard Lesy was angry at the cat’s inability to control her bowels – after bathing Sage, he discovered fecal matter on her fur prompting him to launch his violent attack.
He had bathed the cat after she urinated inside a Rosehill Dr. N.W. home.
He took Sage to the vet but it was too late for viable resuscitation efforts and the two-year-old cat died of trauma to the upper cervical spinal cord.
Lesy pleaded guilty to an animal cruelty charge.
Crown prosecutor Richelle Freiheit said such cases typically lead to jail terms but this case has several mitigating factors including Lesy having no prior criminal record, taking the cat to a vet, pleading guilty and taking it upon himself to get counselling.
While she said “he meant to kick the cat … he didn’t mean to kill her.” She said it was a “one-blow situation with a quick death.”
In addition to the hefty fine, he faces six months probation, must do 50 hours community service, and, other than the exception for Harley, is prohibited from owing an animal for two years.
Judge Gerry Meaher, who is bound to accept the joint submission by the Crown and Lesy’s lawyer David Mohr unless he felt it was unreasonable, said it was fitting.
“This was not intentional,” he told the court.
“It was very reckless with very unfortunate consequences.” Brad Nichol, an animal protection investigator at the Calgary Humane Society, said the sentence was acceptable.
“It was a violent act and incarceration was certainly on the table,” he said outside court.
“I agree, there were mitigating factors. I don’t think he is the picture of the accused we usually see, it was a bad decision.” He said it is not unusual to see existing animals allowed by the courts to stay in a home where someone convicted of such a crime lives and “time will tell,” whether Harley-the-dog is at any risk of similar abuse.
“Past behaviour can be a predictor of future behaviour,” Nichols said.
“Time will tell.”
A group of animal rights activists, including some with young children, were in the court – a mainstay at most cases before the courts involving animal cruelty.
CALGARY SUN — JULY 27, 2010
By KEVIN MARTIN, CALGARY SUN
Dog owners can’t put personal expenses ahead of their pets, an animal rights group spokeswoman said Wednesday after a Calgary man was fined for neglecting his canine.
Heather Anderson of the DAISY Foundation said those who can’t afford pets should turn them over to the Humane Society instead of letting them suffer. Anderson’s comment came moments after provincial court Judge Allan Fradsham fined Eddie Kwok Yee Chan $1,000 for allowing his dog to suffer.
Crown prosecutor Gord Haight said Chan neglected to get medical attention for his cocker spaniel, Pooka, for months.
Haight said the veterinarian, who ultimately had to euthanize the animal last September, estimated it was in a period of distress for at least three months.
He said the dog suffered various skin ailments, including ear infections, hair loss and oil secretions which Chan failed to deal with.
A friend of Chan’s ex-wife, with whom he was staying with at the time, noticed the dog was in rough shape and needed to be taken to the vet, Haight said.
When the woman returned from vacation, the animal still hadn’t been treated and she took it in herself, the prosecutor said.
The veterinarian took one look at the dog and determined it had to be euthanized, he said.
According to the doctor, the animal “looked to be a picture of misery and neglect,” Haight told Fradsham.
Court was told Chan was unemployed and bankrupt and couldn’t afford to pay for medical treatment for the dog.
Along with the fine, Fradsham banned Chan, 65, from owning any animals for the next five years.
But Anderson said that wasn’t enough.
“People have to start realizing when you take an animal on, it’s not just a spur of the moment thing,” she said outside court.
“You should never have a chance of having that beauty in your life,” she said of those who abuse their pets.
By KEVIN MARTIN, CALGARY SUN — JUNE 16, 2010
Bashing his dog in the head with a flashlight, which led to the animal losing an eye, has landed a Calgary man nine months of house arrest.
Provincial court Judge Bruce Fraser on Tuesday said Donald James Ainsworth poses no danger to the public, so a conditional sentence was warranted.
Fraser said barring Ainsworth from being around pets for five years would alleviate any concern he poses a risk.
He said the term behind bars sought by Crown prosecutor Gord Haight wasn’t necessary, noting Ainsworth had no prior criminal history.
“The court … must be satisfied that he would not be a danger to the community,” the judge said in citing one of the pre-conditions for considering a conditional sentence order.
“The offender has no criminal record, is 46 years of age, and if prohibited from having the custody or control of an animal … he could not be said to be a risk to the community.”
Ainsworth earlier pleaded guilty to wilfully permitting his dog to be caused unnecessary pain or suffering in connection with a March 14, 2009, incident.
Ainsworth became angry at his miniature Doberman pinscher, Gucci, when she urinated in his truck.
He grabbed Gucci by the neck and shook her before striking her on the head with a flashlight.
The animal ran under some shelving and Ainsworth was unable to get the animal out.
He went to bed, awakening the next morning to find his injured pet beside him.
Ainsworth eventually had a friend take the dog to the humane society, where a vet determined its injured eye would have to be removed.
Fraser agreed with defence lawyer Andrea Serink a jail term in the three- to five-month range sought by Haight wasn’t needed.
Outside court, animal activist Heather Anderson said Ainsworth’s five-year ban from having pets was a positive step.
“I wish it was a lifetime ban, but five years is better than two years,” she said.
CALGARY SUN | MAY 21, 2010
By KEVIN MARTIN
Anger over his cat’s inability to control its bowels led a Calgary man to fatally kick the feline, a court heard Monday.
Crown prosecutor Richelle Freiheit said Darren Ronald Lesy kicked his and his girlfriend’s pet, Sage, two, after bathing the animal the morning of Aug. 27, 2007, and discovering fecal matter on her.
“I’m not sure whether the cat defecated at that point, or had feces on it,” Freiheit told provincial court Judge Gerry Meagher.
Freiheit said Lesy was bathing the cat after it had urinated inside their Rosehill Dr. N.W. residence.
“Mr. Lesy saw the fecal matter, became mad and kicked at the cat,” she said.
“The kick made contact with the cat’s head.”
Freiheit said although Lesy kicked at the animal, he didn’t intend to kill Sage.
“It’s not the Crown’s position that Mr. Lesy intended to cause the death of the cat,” she said.
Freiheit said Lesy reported the animal at first seemed okay, but her condition began to deteriorate and he rushed the feline to a veterinary hospital.
“The cat at that point was already dead,” she said, adding a vet made an unsuccessful attempt to revive the pet.
“The cause of death was trauma to the upper cervical spinal cord,” Freiheit said.
Lesy, 25, pleaded guilty to an animal cruelty charge of causing damage or pain to an animal through willful neglect.
The offence at the time carried a maximum sentence of six months.
While more recent legislation has increased the maximum to two years, Lesy is entitled to be sentenced under the Criminal Code as it was in 2007.
At defence lawyer David Mohr’s request, Meagher ordered a presentence report be prepared by probation.
Lesy, who remains at liberty, returns to court on Aug. 4, when sentencing submissions will be made.
CALGARY HERALD | MAY 7, 2010
By Daryl Slade
CALGARY – A 21-year-old city man will not have a criminal record for beating a four-month-old husky puppy to death with a piece of wood, if he successfully completes a year of probation.
Provincial court Judge Terry Semenuk, in imposing the conditional discharge on Jacob Michael Rabeau on Friday, said although hitting the dog was unnecessary, “the offence was impulsive.”
Semenuk noted that Rabeau was in fear of the dog, Shea, when it came at him early on the morning of Aug. 2, 2007, as he stopped to urinate in an alley in the southeast community of Queensland. But he also admitted he overreacted.
“Even if he had a bona fide fear of the dog while urinating, he could have simply got into his vehicle and driven away,” Semenuk said in his decision.
Rabeau previously pleaded guilty to causing the dog’s death. He must pay $800 restitution to the owner, Justin Kotulak, and $250 to the Calgary Humane Society. He also must take counselling for anger management.
Willie deWit, Rabeau’s lawyer, said outside court his client was relieved. “This has been hanging over his head for a number of years. It certainly has been a drain on him,” deWit said.
“Of course, he feels badly. He still has to deal with probation and counselling, but he’s glad to get it behind him and move on.
“Certainly, this happened on the spur of the moment. As he said, he’d rather take a bite now than react like that.”
Court heard the dog, which weighed no more than 4.5 kilograms, had escaped from its yard after owner Justin Kotulak let it out into the yard late at night.
When the dog came towards Rabeau, he retreated to his car, grabbed a 2-by-4 or baseball bat and struck the dog on the head.
Heather Anderson, founder of animal rights group DAISY (Delegates Against Inhumane Suffering Y), said she was extremely disappointed with the sentence.
“It’s the worst slap on the wrist I’ve seen,” she said outside court. “He deliberately killed this dog . . . and robbed this family of a lot of years of love from this dog.
“What is $800 when you lose a family member. Kids have to suffer and they blame themselves for letting the dog loose in the first place.”
Crown prosecutor Richelle Freiheit, who had sought 21 to 30 days jail, said she was surprised by the sentence, but would have to review the judge’s written decision before deciding whether to appeal.
“It’s been very tricky, because there is this explanation that he acted out of fear. It’s hard for someone to prove what’s in someone’s mind,” Freiheit said.
“You normally have to look at their actions. In this case we’ve got a man who says, ‘I love dogs, I’ve had pets.’ I can’t dispute that he was afraid. To me, it’s a bit strange to be afraid of a four-month-old husky puppy, if you’ve had that experience with dogs. But we can only prove what people saw and the evidence that was there.”
Court heard Kotulak had let Shea out into the backyard shortly before the incident and he managed to escape. When Kotulak discovered his dog was missing and went to the alley to look, he approached a vehicle with several occupants and heard one voice say “we just killed it.”
The owner then discovered the puppy, which had severe head trauma, was bleeding from the ears and started convulsing. The car then drove away.
Kotulak then picked up Shea and carried him to the backyard, where the puppy died in his arms.
CALGARY HERALD | MAY 5, 2010
By Deborah Tetley
Charges have been laid against a woman six months after a Doberman puppy was found critically injured and abandoned in a blood-covered kennel outside a vet hospital.
The woman faces one Criminal Code charge of abandonment or wilful neglect of an animal in distress. She has also been charged under the Animal Protection Act of Alberta with causing or permitting an animal in her care to be in distress, Calgary Humane Society officials said Tuesday.
“Public support for this puppy was incredible,” said executive director Patricia Cameron. “Our animal protection investigators did a huge amount of work on this case and it truly demonstrated that Calgarians will not stand for animal abuse and cruelty or neglect.”
The dog, which is now eight months old, has been renamed Mike by the foster family who has been caring for him since he was found last November in the parking lot of Calgary North Veterinary Hospital.
He was underweight, dehydrated, had a broken leg, a head injury and required surgeries. At the time, officials said he’d been abused.
Since then, he’s made a remarkable recovery, Cameron said.
“Despite what was clearly a horrible ordeal, Mike is still ready to trust, to love and to enjoy life,” she said.
A Criminal Code conviction could mean a maximum penalty of six months in jail, a $5,000 fine and a lifetime ban on owning animals, the humane society said.
Cynthia Guan, 22, of Calgary, is to appear in court May 27.
The founder of the DAISY Foundation, which received a donation to put up a $10,500 reward for information leading to an arrest, said she’s happy someone has been charged.
“This case was sad,” said Heather Anderson. “I am excited about the arrest and hopeful the evidence sticks.”
CALGARY SUN | APRIL 19, 2010
By KEVIN MARTIN
Beating his wife, trying to strangle her dog with a noose and then spitting in a cop’s face has landed a Calgary man a seven-month jail term. But animal rights activists are applauding a secondary part of Bradley Kim Bergman’s punishment — a 10-year order that he have no pets.
Provincial court Judge Sean Dunnigan agreed with Crown prosecutor Gord Haight that Bergman’s conduct warranted at least a seven-month jail term.
Calling Bergman’s conduct “despicable,” Dunnigan said the admitted abuser still doesn’t understand the gravity of his actions.
“It appears … he does not see what he did to be any big deal,” Dunnigan said.
“Mr. Bergman seems to minimize his actions and excuse his criminal behaviour.”
The judge said Bergman’s attack on his common-law wife Denise Head’s pet Corgi, Buddy, was calculated to harm her further after he had repeatedly punched her.
“He intended her to suffer greatly,” Dunnigan said.
Bergman, 56, was angry at Buddy on March 1, 2009, for vomiting in their house and when he said he was going to “skin and gut” the animal, Head attempted to intervene.
When she did that he threatened to do the same to her before taking the dog to the garage and tightly tying a noose around its neck.
He also forced his way into a bathroom where Head had retreated for safety and to call police, before repeatedly punching her in the back.
When police arrived Bergman said he hoped the dog was already dead and spit into Const. David Grouchey’s face.
Police were able to save the animal, which was having trouble breathing.
Outside court, Haight said the 10-year pet ownership prohibition, under relatively new legislation, is the longest he’s seen in Calgary.
The penalty was applauded by a small group of animal lovers who had attended the sentencing.
Heather Anderson, of the DAISY Foundation, said she was pleased Bergman will have no control over any pet for the next decade.
“We’re really happy with the 10-year ban,” Anderson said.
“A 10-year ban is about as good as we’re going to get.”
She was also relieved to see that Bergman is going to jail.
“I’m glad he got some time I’m really happy about that, but it would’ve been nice (if it was) more time,” she said.
Along with jail, Dunnigan handed Bergman two year’s probation.
CALGARY SUN | APRIL 19, 2010
By KEVIN MARTIN
Blinding his pet dog by whacking it with a flashlight should land a Calgary man up to five months in jail, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
But the lawyer for Donald James Ainsworth said her client should be spared any jail, or at worst given a term which can be served on weekends.
Defence counsel Andrea Serink said other animal abuse cases, even those involving deaths, have resulted in punishments less than the three- to five-month term the Crown wants for her client.
“Denunciation and deterrence can be achieved in this case by your honour imposing a community-based sentence, or a sentence which can be served on an intermittent basis,” Serink told provincial court Judge Bruce Fraser.
But Crown prosecutor Gord Haight said other cases where lighter sentences were handed out occurred before Parliament upped the maximum penalty for cruelty to animals.
“Anything less than an actual jail sentence would be inconsistent with the fundamental principals of justice,” Haight said.
“Parliament has now tripled the maximum sentence when the Crown proceeds summarily,” he said.
Before the changes animal cruelty was always a summary crime with a maximum of six months, Haight noted.
Now if the Crown proceeds by indictment the highest jail term available is five years.
Haight said there were aggravating factors in Ainsworth’s March 13, 2009, attack on his miniature Doberman pinscher, Gucci, which has since been seized by the Humane Society.
Haight said Ainsworth grabbed Gucci by the neck and shook her before striking her on the head with a flashlight after the dog urinated in his truck.
Ainsworth didn’t take the dog for medical treatment until he asked a friend to do so the next day.
The prosecutor said the dog’s injured eye had to be surgically removed, although a Humane Society vet said immediate treatment may have saved it, Haight said.
“The most obvious aggravating factor here is the severity of the actions of the accused with respect to this animal,” he said.
“The accused admitted to not only striking the blow, but grabbing her by the neck and shaking her.”
A contrite Ainsworth told Fraser: “I am very, very sorry for what I have done to my pet, I’m very, very ashamed.”
Fraser will hand down a sentence on June 15.
Ainsworth remains at liberty until then.