Mirror, AB dogs are again being poisoned

Mirror, AB dogs are again being poisoned

DOG PULLING ON STICK © Gjs | Dreamstime.com


It’s been a year since the poisoning of dogs last was news in Mirror. At that time, approximately 20 dogs were poisoned with a chemical typically used to kill gophers.

Over night last night, 14 dogs died from poisoning.

Calls starting coming in to the RCMP in Bashaw about 9:30 this morning and continued throughout the day. As of early Saturday evening, 13 deaths have been confirmed and a 14th is believed also to have been poisoned. All of the dead dogs were found in fenced-in yards or on their owner’s property.

It is thought that something the dogs ate contained an unknown substance. Toxicology reports from veterinarians to verify the substance are pending.

Please keep an eye on your dog(s) and do not leave them unattended in your yard.

Anyone with information or anyone who believes their dog has been poisoned is urged to call Constable Duek with the RCMP in Bashaw at (780) 372-3793.

Mirror is about 215 kilometres northeast of Calgary and about 66 kilometres East of Red Deer.

Symptoms of dog poisoning

The following are a few of the symptoms of dog poisoning that you can look out for. A lot of these symptoms are quite similar to those in human poisoning, and some of them can be indicative of other conditions and ailments.

  • Irritation or swelling of the mouth and throat
  • Drinking excessive amounts of water
  • Drooling or discharge from the nose
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Change of color in urine
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors, Convulsions or Seizures
  • Respiratory problems
  • Paralysis
  • Erratic heart rate

Some symptoms are extremely specific. For example, rat poison can prevent blood clotting which can mean that small injuries become quite serious, and if ingested it can cause internal bleeding which if not treated quickly enough can lead to death. Sometimes internal bleeding can be diagnosed by blood in the dog’s urine.

What to do if you Suspect Poisoning

If your dog displays any of the symptoms of dog poisoning, you need to seek proper veterinarian treatment as soon as possible. The very first thing to do is call your vet and ask for advice. If your dog has been poisoned, there are things you can do to help, but it depends on exactly what he has eaten. For example, inducing vomiting can help the dog to clear out whatever is causing the problem and a mixture often used for this is made up of a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon of milk.

You should never try to induce vomiting in cases of chemical poisoning such as cleaning products or gasoline or if the dog is in a stupor. In these cases trying to make the dog throw up can actually make it worse. Always at least ask your vet before trying something like this. It will be much easier if you know the exact cause, but even if you don’t, the vet will be able to tell you what to do.


Read other articles about the Mirror dog poisonings


How false accusations by drug addict, RCMP in Sundre wild horse case destroyed lives

How false accusations by drug addict, RCMP in Sundre wild horse case destroyed lives

Jason Nixon with his daughter Chyanne, 4 outside of Calgary Courts Centre in Calgary, Alberta on April 27, 2011was exonerated after the crown withdrew charges that Nixon shot a horse near Sundre, Alberta. Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald


Three men charged with the slaying of a wild, pregnant horse near Sundre were completely exonerated in provincial court Wednesday morning.

Crown prosecutor Gord Haight told court that new information disclosed by the defence has led him to “withdraw all charges” against Jason Nixon, the general manager at Mountain Aire Lodge, as well as against Earl Anderson and Gary Cape. Charges against Nixon’s 14-year-old son, Markus, are expected to be withdrawn shortly.

“I feel like an 800-pound weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but I don’t think I will ever fully recover from this travesty of justice that has been perpetrated against me and my family,” said Nixon, 30, who was running the Mustard Seed Street Ministry’s program at the lodge near Sundre, where people battling addictions and homelessness can reform their lives and learn new skills by helping to run the lodge, restaurant, campgrounds and other businesses.

The new evidence revealed recently not only proves Nixon and the three co-accused are innocent of the heinous charges they were accused of, but has exposed the misconduct of the RCMP and its eagerness to believe an outrageous story dreamed up by David Goertz, a longtime crack and crystal meth addict seeking a $25,000 reward over the reputation of a law-abiding family man running a Christian ministry.

“This entire episode has been a complete nightmare for me and my family,” added Nixon, who was surrounded by his extended family, including his wife Tiffany, several of his five brothers and his father, Pat Nixon, an Order of Canada recipient and the founder and former longtime president of the Mustard Seed Street Ministry, until he was recently let go from his life’s work.

Nixon, Anderson and Cape, along with Nixon’s then 12-year-old son were charged in January 2010 with wilfully killing cattle and careless use of a firearm in connection with the death of a pregnant horse in April of 2009.

The story made the front pages of newspapers across Canada and even CNN. It led to Nixon and his co-accused receiving hate messages from across North America — including death threats against Nixon’s four-year-old twins — losing his job, his home and costing him $100,000 in legal bills that every member of his family and some friends have pitched in to help pay.

“And that’s just the superficial stuff,” explains Nixon.

New evidence brought forward by four hunters has exonerated Nixon, his son, Markus, Anderson and Cape — two former homeless men who had sobered up and worked at the lodge for some time.

One of those hunters is Justin Goodrich, 21, who along with his friends Peter, Adam and Noel came upon a dead horse lying in the middle of the road about one kilometre outside of Mountain Aire Lodge.

“It was the opening weekend of bear hunting season, almost two years ago exactly,” recalls Goodrich, an industrial firefighter who was reached at his work site north of Little Smoky, 330 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

“We were driving down the hill and we saw the horse was at the bottom of the cliff. It was really fresh. It was still warm and no rigor mortis had set in,” recalls Goodrich.

The avid outdoorsmen checked to make sure there were no bullet wounds in the horse, since there have been numerous shootings of wild horses in the area for 15 years, something The Wild Horses of Alberta Society (WHOAS) put out a $25,000 reward for, seeking information leading to a conviction in the case.

“The horse was pregnant,” said Goodrich who took a photo of the dead mare. “We think that maybe she tried to give birth, lost her footing and once you go down that cliff, there’s no going back, it’s a sheer fall.

“My buddy Adam is training to be a wildlife biologist and he decided to cut it open to try to save the baby, but it was too late or the fall killed the baby,” explains Goodrich.

The men then tried to move the horse off the road, but she was too heavy, so they inched her as close to the cliff wall as they could and drove off.

Goodrich isn’t sure of the time, but he thinks it was about 7:30 or 8 p.m. and that it would be getting dark soon.

Maybe half an hour to an hour later, Nixon, his then 12-year-old son, Markus, Anderson, Cape and David Goertz, a longtime drug addict and resident of the rehab program, were driving down the road. When they came around the corner they had to stop rather suddenly to avoid hitting the horse.

Goertz, who had relapsed back into drug use and was no longer living at the Lodge, later went to the RCMP saying that he witnessed Nixon shooting the horse, a story that is now viewed clearly as a fabrication, motivated by the $25,000 reward money.

“It was a really gruesome scene,” recalls Nixon, a gentle giant of a man who stands 6’8” with size 18 feet. “The insides of the horse were outside of its belly as well as a baby foal. It looked like the horse had blown up.

“We couldn’t understand what happened. We thought maybe because she was pregnant that she had burst when she fell off the cliff.”

Everyone in the vehicle recognized it would be too dangerous to leave the horse there, since there are no lights on the road and a driver might swerve to avoid the horse at the last second and drop off the far side of the narrow gravel road, which is a sheer vertical drop of about 30 metres.

“I sent two guys further up the hill to warn drivers to be careful.”

Nixon, Anderson and Markus, who was crying at the sight of the bloody scene, went back to the lodge to drop off the upset boy and get a Bobcat to push the horse down the cliff.

“Even knowing what I know now, how devastating this has been to my life and family, I would still have moved that horse,” explains Nixon, “because I never would have been able to live with myself if a truck full of kids died that night.”

Standing on the road Tuesday it’s clear that Nixon made the right choice. The road is narrow, unlit and the fall off the side is almost a completely vertical plunge.

About nine months after he moved the horse, Nixon was at his home on Mountain Aire property when he got a call from Anderson telling him he had just been arrested for “killing a cow.”

Nixon opened his front door and his home was surrounded by 10 RCMP officers from three different detachments, some with their guns drawn and some of whom he once considered close friends.

“One woman officer was swearing at me, telling me to ‘get down you big F-ing retard.’

“I was born with arrhythmia and I was very afraid they would Taser me, so I laid down on the ground.”

Nixon was handcuffed in front of his frightened children, then just two-years-old, driven the 40 minutes to the Sundre RCMP station and charged with unlawfully killing cattle.

One officer he knew quite well, whispered in his ear nodding toward RCMP officers from Didsbury and Edmonton and said, “‘if I were you I’d get a lawyer and not say a thing to these assholes.” Nixon heeded his advice.

Ironically, just weeks prior to his arrest, Nixon received a letter of commendation from the RCMP for the countless times Nixon and Mountain Aire Lodge (MAL) staff helped the RCMP and the community with search and rescue, first aid and dead animal removal.

“Since taking over MAL, The Mustard Seed has worked to revitalize the business, clean the property up, add services and ultimately bring tourists and further stability into the area,” wrote Sgt. Percy Leipnitz with the Sundre RCMP.

“MAL staff and clients have assisted in many important operations in our region over the past few years, and have contributed to making this district a better, safer one for those who live, work and visit the Forestry Reserve …” states the letter.

Nixon says not only did he lose his job running the program, but so did Anderson and Cape, new Christians who had remained sober for a long while and were doing so well.

Willie deWit, Nixon’s lawyer said wrongful conviction inquiries have repeatedly shown how police get tunnel vision when they want to get a conviction at all cost.

“They start eliminating anything that goes against guilt and just take into consideration things that go toward guilt. We see that all the time and they don’t seem to be learning that lesson,” said deWit.

“You’d think, especially if you’ve got a person like Jason Nixon — a top-notch citizen — and then the guy against him is a crackhead that’s come forward to collect a reward, I mean, geez, right then you’d think the police would say, ‘hey, wait a minute,’” said deWit.

RCMP spokesperson, Sgt. Patrick Webb said Wednesday that the RCMP is investigating Goertz to “determine whether there was a deliberate attempt to accuse someone of something that never happened.”

Going into debt, having his reputation destroyed, having the ministry he built shut down, shattering Markus’ trust of police, losing his home and his job are not all the Nixon’s have lost.

“It’s deeper,” says Nixon. “Emotionally, I was a very trusting person prior to this, now I have troubles trusting outside of my family group. I used to view police very favourably, now I fear them.

“I feel humiliated. There were months where I didn’t feel I could walk around in town. Markus was teased in school.

“No matter what I do for the rest of my life, when people Google my name, its going to follow me the rest of my life. Once you’ve rung that bell you can’t unring it.”

But through it all, Nixon forgives Goertz and the others who have treated him so badly. On Good Friday he reflected on how his Lord, Jesus Christ was betrayed, wrongly accused, and crucified for the sins of others.

“I feel very betrayed and hurt by David (Goertz),” says Nixon. “I really showed him a lot of love, but that’s what addiction does. It’s so destructive,” he adds as he rubs the nose of his horse, Tank, on his rented acreage near Sundre.

“Through this all, I’ve really learned who my real friends are and just what a total, total blessing my family is and how important my faith is. Jesus never left my side. I know He has a plan for my life I just hope it doesn’t include this much pain. But we did the right thing that night. We may have saved some lives. That’s a comfort.”

Licia Corbella is a columnist and editorial page editor.

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reprinted from Calgary Herald | Global News story


Charges dropped against three men in Alberta wild horse case

Charges dropped against three men in Alberta wild horse case

TWO HORSES © Iperl | Dreamstime.com


CALGARY — Three men accused of wrongfully shooting a pregnant wild horse near Sundre, Alta., two years ago felt vindicated Wednesday when the Crown dropped the charges in Calgary provincial court.

New evidence showed the mare never was shot, but likely died giving birth or in an accident, and was found dead on the side of the road — about 130 kilometres north of Calgary — by the three men: Jason Nixon, Gary Cape and Earl Anderson.

“I’m glad it’s over for me and my family. It’s all bittersweet, though. It’s not like it’s a great victory,” Nixon said outside court following the decision before Judge Harry Van Harten. “It’s the end of an extremely trying time.”

Nixon said the evidence the defence provided recently to the Crown prompted the RCMP to reinvestigate.

As a result of that, he said, they didn’t think charges were warranted anymore.

“What the evidence said was we never shot a horse, ever,” emphasized Nixon. “What happens was there was a horse . . . that had died on the road. It was a very dangerous spot. I was concerned it was shot and I had some of my staff move it into the ditch.”

Nixon said that nine months later, police surrounded his home and put him in jail. A youth also faces a similar charge, but it is expected the same thing will happen there.

Crown prosecutor Gord Haight would not elaborate on any of the evidence that prompted him to stay the charges.

He would only say: “There was not a reasonable likelihood of conviction.”

The three men had been scheduled for trial earlier this month, but it was adjourned when the defence revealed the new evidence.

“What happened was they came across a horse that either died in childbirth or had fallen off a hill there,” said Willie deWit, Nixon’s lawyer.

“When they came upon it, they looked to see if there was any evidence it had been shot. There was none, no bullet holes. So they ended up pushing it off the road, as it was a hazard. One of the people with them went to the police and said it had been shot. When in reality, it was never shot at all.”

He added it was several months before the horse was found and it was hard to make any determination what happened.

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originally published by The Calgary Herald | reprinted from Global News


Ben – needlessly killed in an illegal snare trap

Ben – needlessly killed in an illegal snare trap

TRIAL: May 6, 2010 | Alberta Provincial Court in Cochrane | $300 fine for killing Ben

“My husband and I were the proud caretakers of Ben. I won’t say “dog,” because he was much more to us than that. This is my husband’s favourite picture of Ben, as it shows him in the snow that he loved.”

That’s how one of the letters we received started.


“Let’s take the dogs up to Powderface before the season closes.”

A simple gesture that occurred many times over the years because the dogs loved it… a change of scenery, new sights, new smells. Just something Ed and Lorna did for their four-legged “kids.”

But their last trip in late November, 2010 was painfully different.

They loaded Ben and Sarah into the truck and drove out to Powerface. Even though Ed, for health reasons, could not make the walk, he still went with them and waited in the truck. Once there, Lorna headed off with the two dogs.

Ben, killed in an illegal snare trap November, 2011


Shortly into their walk Ben scampered off while Lorna broke the snowballs from between the pads on Sarah’s feet. Lorna called him, but he did not come. Much unlike the big guy. So she whistled and called some more. Nothing. She walked further down the valley. There was no sign of him, no barking, no movement… nothing. Without a sound, he had just vanished.

Darkness was starting to fall, so Lorna and Ed decided they would have to come back the next day for Ben.

Returning the next day after hanging signs and talking to people about Ben, Lorna followed Ben’s tracks into the woods. She did not get very far before she found him. Dead.

Strangled in a snare trap.

 

“Ben was only about 30 feet from me in the bush, and I never heard a thing. The conservation officer said [the snare] would have instantly closed off his breathing, so he never had the opportunity to call out.”

Accidents happen and a dog is surely no match for a snare… but this wasn’t an accident. Ben’s death was the result of a decision trapper John McWilliams made to set his snare traps before the legal date to do so in an area where snare traps are not permitted. In other words, that trap should never have even been there. And Ben should not have died. Period.

Ben’s death was a result of a reckless decision. Not an accident.

At the first trial in February, McWilliams asked that the trial be remanded. In March, neither McWilliams nor his attorney appeared. The next trial is scheduled for May 6 in Cochrane.

The charge as I understand it is hunting out-of-season which could cause McWilliams to lose his hunting license. But he was trapping, not hunting. Why would he not lose his trapping license for acting with such negligence? He set a snare trap in a recreational area that was still open to the public; an area where snare traps are not even permitted.

Ed and Lorna will be back in court in Cochrane on May 6 as this case again comes to trial. Members of the DAISY Foundation will be there in support because Ben’s death should not just quietly go away. McWilliams needs to be held responsible for his alleged actions to the fullest extent possible. By his actions, he took Ben away from Lorna and Ed. By not following trapping regulations, he put other animals, pets and people at risk.

The maximum penalty is a fine of $100,000 and/or a 2 year jail sentence.

TRIAL: May 6, 2010 | Alberta Provincial Court in Cochrane | $300 fine for killing Ben


Read Lorna’s account | No justice for Ben | Calgary Sun story | Global Edmonton story


The Story of Ben

The Story of Ben

TRIAL: May 6, 2010 | 9:30 AM | Alberta Provincial Court in Cochrane | We’ll be there!

Here’s the email we received last week about Ben — Lorna and Ed’s Malamute tragically killed in an out-of-season snare.

We have been going up on the Powderface Trail to Canyon Creek for over four years to run our dogs. Until last year we had two big Alaskan Malamutes, Ben and Keesha and one SPCA special Sarah. Sarah is part cocker spaniel and part border collie, so she has long soft fur.

On November 29th, 2010 my husband and I decided to take Ben and Sarah up for the last run of the year as the Powderface Trail is closed on December 1st for the winter. We left home before noon, putting their coats on; as it is hunting season and we didn’t want Ben to be mistaken for a wolf. Ben has always been very obedient, and they come when called or to a small whistle that I have. He just loves to be able to run free, in and out of the trees. Ed has asthma and so waited in the truck while I walked with the dogs down the valley to the east of the trail.The snow was quite deep that day, and little Sarah was having problems in the snow. Ben had run about 15 yards ahead of me, but I wasn’t worried. I bent down to break the snowballs out of Sarah’s feet, and when I looked up Ben was gone. He just vanished without a sound. I called and called, and walked down the valley a bit more, but still no sign of him. As it was getting dark, we decided to go home and come back the next morning. Ben is an outside dog.

When we got home, I talked to my daughter, and she made up some “Lost” posters and I printed out a bunch to take back up to the area and post on any signboards we came to. We were up at 5:00 A.M. and started to put up our posters everywhere we could. We also talked to a lot of people including some hunters with the idea that the more people that were looking for Ben, the better it would be.

It was about noon by the time we got back to Canyon Creek, and I looked for Ben’s tracks to see which direction he had taken. It wasn’t far from where I last saw him that I found his lifeless body in the trees with a wire snare around his neck. I couldn’t get it off, so had to call Ed to help. Ed couldn’t get it off either, and ended up cutting the cable to get him free. In the same area was another trap, a big wooden box with a large Conabear trap in it and a huge chunk of raw meat. The trap was set about one foot off of the ground, and if a dog or a child had reached in, they would have been caught. The jaws of the Conabear are about 12 inches square, and have two strong springs. Trappers use a rope or clip to set them, as they can be caught in them themselves.

With great difficulty, Ed and I loaded Ben’s 120 pound body into the back of our truck. We headed back to the Ranger Station on the Elbow side and met up with a Conservation Officer, Bill O’Conner. He tried to get the snare wire off of Ben’s neck, but it took him ¾ of an hour trying various tools before he was able to free Ben.

Bill asked us to take him back to where Ben had been caught. He walked in and said it was 300 meters off of the trail. He also asked us if we had taken a quad in there, as there were fresh tracks in the area. We said no, and he left to go back to the Elbow side; and we went north towards the Transcanada Highway.

We continued about a mile or so, and came upon a truck with a quad in the back with fresh snow in the cleats. As we sat there, a man came out of the trees carrying some tools. We asked him if he had been the one who went down the Canyon Creek Valley. He was definitely on the defensive and said yes he was. So Ed told him that he had killed our dog. He went and looked in the back of the truck and said,”oh, sorry”, but I had the feeling he didn’t mean it. We asked his name and I took his license number. His name is John McWilliams. He was very arrogant to us, and so we just left.

When we got back to Calgary, we went over to our vets. and we left Ben’s body there to be cremated. The total bill was $275.00.

Bill O’Conner told us to call the R.C.M.P. in Cochrane, but to wait a few days as they were busy. Ed and I were absolutely devastated by this time. We felt that this was a wrong thing to be happening in a populated recreational area. I can’t remember why, but for some reason we were up on Barlow Trail N.E. and happened to see the Global signs. We went in and talked to a lady there, and she said she would talk to her boss.

They gave us a call, and we went out to the Elbow Falls area on Sunday December 5th and did an interview with the crew from Global news. We just wanted to get the word out, so that no one else would have to go through the heartache that we were experiencing.

Ben wasn’t just a dog. He was a member of our family. He slept outside most nights, but always came in to socialize and have his breakfast. He spent as long as he could stand in the house, as he had such a heavy coat. Ed kept looking out the kitchen window for Ben, as he was so cheeky, and would bark at us through the window.

The Calgary Sun phoned us, and wanted to do an article. A photographer came up to the house and took pictures. They were on the front page of the Sun on December 6th. Also a follow-up article on Dec. 7th.

Our son, Ted, picked up Ben from the City Pound. His boss’ daughter worked there, and Ben had been in the pound 3 weeks, and he hadn’t been adopted. Ted was so happy, and spent a lot of time with Ben, training him and taking him out in the mountains. We had another Malamute at the time, Keesha, and the three dogs ran alongside the truck or the quad. Ben gradually developed a special personality. He became very affectionate and was no trouble if you don’t count the holes in my front lawn!

After the story appeared in the Calgary Sun and on Global T.V. we had lots of people come up to us expressing their sympathy. We were in contact with the Cochrane fish & Wildlife officer named Rob Dipalo. He told us that Mr. McWilliams was charged with hunting out of season. We do not approve of that, as if convicted he would lose his hunting license. We felt he should be charged with what he did wrong, trapping out of season, and he should lose his trapping license. According to Mr. Dipalo Mr. McWilliams has a trapping license, and was allowed to trap after October 1st, but he could not put out snares until after December 1st. If he had obeyed the rules, we would not have lost our pet. Also we do not think it is right that they are allowing trapping in an area where people take their children and pets.

John McWilliams goes on trial for the killing of Ben on May 6 in Cochrane.

TRIAL: May 6, 2010 | 9:30 AM | Alberta Provincial Court in Cochrane | We’ll be there!


Blog post | Calgary Sun story | Global Edmonton


Calgary vigil held for sled dogs slain in Whistler

Calgary vigil held for sled dogs slain in Whistler

View Calgary vigil photos

Calgary animal rights supporters petitioning for tougher cruelty laws

By Stephane Massinon, Calgary Herald

A hundred animal rights supporters held a vigil for the 100 sled dogs that were killed in Whistler one year ago.

Standing at Tompkin’s Place on 17 Avenue and 8 Street S.W. on Saturday night, they held signs and circulated petitions for tougher animal cruelty laws in Canada on the anniversary of a slaughter that garnered international attention.

The killings between April 21 and 23 were brought into the public’s attention when a sled dog company’s general manager applied for compensation for post-traumatic stress after the gruesome deaths of the dogs.

Holding a sign with a photograph of a husky that read “Why did we have to die?” Lauren Rigoni said she was moved to act.

“Animals can’t be treated like disposable objects; they have lives,” said the 12-year-old who painted whiskers on her face.

Event organizer Heather Anderson, founder of the DAISY Foundation, said the vigil was meant to help remember the animals that lost their lives.

“We’re out here just to stand up for these huskies that were murdered and to make sure that a mass murder like this will never happen in Canadian history again,” said Anderson.

She criticized the major political parties for largely ignoring the issue during the federal election. Anderson said she did, however, approve of the British Columbia task force into the sled dog deaths.

The BC provincial government has promised to adopt stricter animal cruelty laws by the fall and to adopt the ten recommendations of the Sled Dog Task Force.

Kevin Sparham, a Calgary resident and recreational sledder, brought two Siberian huskies to the vigil.

He said last year’s killing “brought a tear to the eye.”

He hopes the controversy around the killing brings attention to the issue.

“It needed to be brought up. Some kennels are good, some kennels aren’t,” said Sparham.

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reprinted from Calgary Herald | Other stories


Adjournment in Sundre horse killing case

Adjournment in Sundre horse killing case

DARYL SLADE | POSTMEDIA NEWS – APRIL 4, 2011

Man accused of shooting wild horse says he will be exonerated

Trial for three men should begin Tuesday in Calgary

Dead mare


CALGARY — One of three men accused of illegally shooting a feral horse near Sundre in 2009 said Monday he’s confident he will be exonerated.

“We’re happy to finally get our chance in court,” Jason Nixon said outside court after the opening of trial was delayed for a day. “I haven’t done anything wrong. We’ll have to wait for the process to play itself out. All I can say is I didn’t do this, what we’re accused of, and we’ll have to wait for the evidence to unfold.”

Nixon, 30, Gary Cape, 36, and Earl Anderson, 41, each face charges of wilfully killing a horse and careless use of a firearm.

The three men, along with a youth who cannot be named, were charged early last year after the feral horse was shot near Sundre. about 140 kilometres northwest of Calgary.

All three men previously entered not guilty pleas to the charges in Didsbury provincial court. The scheduled four-day trial for the three men was later moved to Calgary.

Provincial court Judge Cheryl Daniel agreed to adjourn the trial for the day after the three men’s lawyers and Crown prosecutor Gord Haight discussed new disclosure that was recently turned over from the RCMP.

The case will go more efficiently if there is a brief adjournment, Don MacLeod, lawyer for Anderson, said outside court.

“This results from late disclosure to the Crown, then in turn to all defence counsel,” said MacLeod. “That gave rise to some issues about further disclosure that we all wanted to have a look at before we cross-examine witnesses in the case.

“(It involves) some emails between witnesses or potential witnesses and potentially further communication that may or may not have taken place between the police and another potential witness that we all — Crown and three defence counsel — want to take a look at.”

MacLeod said in dealing with other issues, it was also determined there was a gap in photographic evidence relating to the scene in general that all counsel felt would be of great assistance to the court in what happens in the case.

The lawyer, however, said as the case is before the courts he could not elaborate on any of the issues or evidence.

The case, he expects, should proceed on Tuesday.

Previously, Nixon’s lawyer, Willie deWit, said he believes his client has a viable defence to the charges, but declined to say what his strategy at trial would be.

“There’s a lot more to the story than has come out so far,” said deWit.

A 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named, is facing the same two Criminal Code charges as the adults. He also pleaded not guilty to the same charges.

Nixon and Anderson have ties to the Mustard Seed Street Ministry, which operates the Mountain Aire Lodge facility west of Sundre.

The lodge provides outreach to formerly homeless men and women.

RCMP have been investigating the deaths of at least 13 wild horses around Sundre since 2007.


reprinted from Calgary Herald


Introducing Canada’s toughest animal-protection laws

Introducing Canada’s toughest animal-protection laws

B.C. toughens animal cruelty laws after sled dog cull

GLOBAL NEWS  | APRIL 5, 2011

BC toughens animal cruelty legislation after sled dog massacre


VANCOUVER — British Columbia announced Tuesday that it is acting on all of the recommendations of its Sled Dog Task Force, including providing new funding for animal-cruelty investigations and introducing the toughest animal-protection laws anywhere in Canada.

The province will change its Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, including increasing penalties to as much as $75,000 and as long as 24 months imprisonment for the most serious offences, in the wake of a mass slaughter of sled dogs near Whistler last April, Premier Christy Clark said.

The task force was appointed in February after news broke that an employee of a sled dog company in Whistler, B.C., had killed as many as 100 dogs over a period of two days last year.

The dogs, owned by Outdoor Adventures Whistler, were killed by Robert Fawcett in April 2010.

The killings came to light after Fawcett filed a WorkSafeBC report claiming post-traumatic stress from the shootings.

The WorkSafeBC report, obtained by the media, details how Fawcett shot, stabbed and bludgeoned the animals to death after he was apparently told by his employer to cull some of the company’s 300 dogs.

The revelation led to an international condemnation of Fawcett’s actions as well as death threats against Fawcett and other Outdoor Adventures Whistler employees.

The province said Tuesday it will extend the current six-month limitation period for prosecuting offences and requiring mandatory reporting of animal abuse by veterinarians.

The BC SPCA has also received a $100,000 grant to enhance its their capacity for animal cruelty investigations, Clark said in a news release.

A joint RCMP and SPCA probe into the dogs’ deaths will resume once the winter snow melts.

Sled dog  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck



reprinted from Global News
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B.C. to toughen animal laws after sled dog slaughter from The Canadian Press


Alleged horse killers on trial in Calgary

Alleged horse killers on trial in Calgary

Tipster’s presence in court adds to intrigue

KEVIN LIBIN | NATIONAL POST · APRIL 5, 2011
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You could see a blood trail. [The horse] was upside down with his head wedged between two trees.

LEAH HENNEL / POSTMEDIA NEWS FILES


LEAH HENNEL / POSTMEDIA NEWS FILESChuck Kollin had come to courtroom 1405 in Calgary on Monday morning just looking, he says, to finish what he’d started. He had planted himself quietly, anonymously — he thought — among the spectators for a trial of three men accused of being heartless killers whose alleged crime had shocked the province. Mr. Kollin figured he’d just be a fly on the wall. Mr. Kollin was wrong.

He was spotted from the start. The RCMP officer investigating the case saw him. The defence lawyer wanted to talk to him. The trial was stopped before it began. This changed everything, the attorneys told Judge Cheryl Daniel.This was the man who had first tipped police to the information that had led to the arrest of these three men, along with a 13 year-old boy.

Mr. Kollin says he was told, through hearsay that hasn’t been proven in court, that the boy cried after the killings, and was told to shrug it off. This was, the boy was reportedly told, no different than killing gophers.

But this was different. These were Alberta’s iconic wild horses.

A lot of Albertans are proud of their wild horse herds; romantic about them, even if no one’s certain where they came from. The Wild Horses of Alberta Society (WHOAS) suspects they’re the descendants of mustangs sailed to the new world by Spanish conquistadors and brought north by Blackfoot Indians. The government’s position is that they likely just escaped from ranches and farms over generations. Either way, when they started turning up shot, left to die brutal, agonizing deaths near the side of the highway, a lot of Albertans were as outraged as they were heartbroken.

It didn’t matter that, legally, the province considers wild horses no more valuable than cattle. They can be captured, legally, with permission, and sold to slaughter. Alberta grants about 20 such permits a year, one reason why WHOAS estimates that the number of feral horses has fallen from 1,000 in the mid1980s to an estimated 200 or 300 today.

The other is that someone has been shooting them, illegally. About 30 were picked off between 2001 and 2009. They likely weren’t all connected, says Bob Henderson, president of WHOAS.

The horses aren’t universally popular: The odd shooting may be some farmer or rancher cranky over them eating up grazing land meant for cattle.

“I still get emails from individuals saying the horses should be shot like Norway rats,” Mr. Henderson says. “We still run into that attitude.”

But as a retired police officer, he thinks the 13 killed near Sundre, Alta., between 2007 and 2009 are linked.

In 2009, Crime Stoppers reenacted the shootings hoping to generate leads. The wild horses society also put out a reward, which, with the help of private donors, grew to nearly $29,000.

Last January, RCMP announced a break in the case, charging three men, along with the boy. One of the accused was Jason Nixon.

This ramped up the story’s local shock value. Jason is the son of Pat Nixon, the founder of Calgary’s Mustard Seed ministry, one of the city’s most celebrated homeless outreach programs.

The Mustard Seed runs the Mountain-Aire lodge near Sundre, a retreat for people battling addictions, where recovery involves pitching in at the local businesses run by the lodge, including a restaurant and campground, and providing security and firewood to some of the other neighbouring resorts and ranches, set in the picturesque shadow of the Rockies.

Jason Nixon was the lodge’s general manager. He’s also been charged with assault, uttering threats and obstruction of a peace officer. One of the other men accused is his employee.

His father, Pat Nixon, meanwhile, is a member of the Order of Canada who, when he announced his retirement in January, earned an editorial in the Calgary Herald calling him “a living saint.”

And yet the horse deaths, including the one his son is charged with, along with Earl Anderson, Gary Cape and the boy, were gruesome.

Some of the mares were pregnant. One mustang, paralyzed by a bullet through the neck, took so long to die it left a silhouette of its body heat melted in the snow.

Horse Carcass - Alberta (sm)Another had been “gut shot,” reported the local outfitter who found a trio of carcasses in April 2009. “You could see a blood trail and he had flopped around,” he said. “He was upside down with his head wedged between two trees.”

One shooter dragged the body of a foal and laid it next to the body of its mother.

A group of ladies sporting shirts demanding better laws protecting Alberta’s wild horses showed up at court Monday to watch these men tried for killing a single pregnant mare in 2009 — a crime carrying a maximum sentence of five years.

Mr. Henderson was there too, as were a few dapper rancher types, in blue jeans, bolo ties and blazers, doffing cowboy hats as they entered the courtroom.

None of them would be here, Chuck Kollin believes, if not for him.

He’d worked at the Mountain-Aire Lodge in 2008, from the B.C. coast, hired to do some construction and maintenance work.

He left after less than two weeks, disappointed that the place wasn’t the spiritual haven he’d expected. His first day, he alleges, one of the residents offered to sell him crack. “I didn’t want any part of it.”

But the following year, visiting Calgary, using the casual labour office at a local dropin shelter, he ran into Dave Goertz, whom he recognized from the Mountain-Aire.

Mr. Goertz told him he’d been there one day in 2009 when some guys had gone out shooting horses. He had seen them do it, he told Mr. Kollin. He told him about the crying boy. Mr. Kollin checked the Internet.

He read, for the first time, about the shooting investigation. He learned of the reward. He urged Mr. Goertz to go to the police. Then he called them up himself.

Mr. Kollin says part of his motivation was money: He planned, he says, to use the reward for a mission to Albania, to help deliver clothes and crop seeds there. But he also wanted justice done.

He spent “weeks,” he says, helping RCMP track down Mr. Goertz, who had no fixed address. He spent plenty of his own funds in the process. “It became my full-time job,” he says.

He thinks he deserves the reward, but hasn’t seen a dime yet. Mr. Henderson insists that it’s payable only upon a conviction.

When Mr. Kollin showed up on Monday, he suddenly found himself the centre of attention at a trial full enough already with interesting characters and twists.

Defence lawyers halted the proceedings and asked to add him as a witness. Mr. Kollin is stunned. He’s still waiting for a reward he believes he deserves.

He didn’t plan to be part of this trial. He’s not eager to testify — his doctors told him to avoid stress while he awaits heart surgery next month — and definitely not for the accused.

“Why would I want to support the defence?” he says. He had thought he had bused in from the coast to quietly witness the end of “something I started” — to see the mystery of the wild horse shootings unravelled; to see justice served; to finally collect his reward. Now, he’s not sure what will happen. Now, he says, he wishes he’d stayed home.


reprinted from NewpaperDirect | www.newspaperdirect.com


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