Calgary man who kicked girlfriend’s puppy to death spared jail time

reprinted from Calgary Herald


A 32-year-old Calgary man who threw his girlfriend’s puppy off a balcony, kicked it to death and sent her photos of the dead pet by text has been spared jail time.

Derick Colin Anderson was given a 10-month conditional sentence, a year of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Anderson is also banned from owning or living with animals and birds.

In handing down the sentence in court Thursday morning, Judge Marlene Graham said she took into account that Anderson has no previous criminal record, is willing to receive treatment for anger issues and suffers from a previously undiagnosed condition called intermittent explosive anger disorder.

The judge also noted that Anderson had a childhood fraught with physical and sexual abuse.

Anderson pleaded guilty last October to the Criminal Code charge of wilfully causing pain to an animal.

Anderson became enraged over finances and took his anger out on the 11-month-old puppy, called Cujo, after it soiled the couple’s rented home while his girlfriend was at work Sept, 24, 2010.

He remains in a relationship with the same girl, and lives in his mother’s basement.

Court earlier heard the accused was annoyed by the dog’s yipping and soiling, reached for it, and the dog snapped at him.

He threw the pet off the balcony, walked over and kicked it, then put the dead animal in a back alley recycling bin.

A necropsy concluded that the dog’s skull had been caved in and that severe blunt trauma caused the injuries.

A sentencing report written by forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Duska said a key aggravating factor to the case was the domestic element, in which Anderson blamed the situation on his girlfriend for getting a dog in the first place.

Duska found Anderson a moderate risk to reoffend.

The maximum penalty under the summary conviction is 18 months.

Crown prosecutor Gord Haight had sought a jail term of six to eight months.

Haight argued against a non-custodial sentence, saying it couldn’t be shown that Anderson could be safely returned to the community and that he did not meet the key requirements of deterrence and denunciation.

Defence lawyer Roy Shellnutt said his client has accepted responsibility for the act and that it is explained, although not excused, by the fact Anderson has since been diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder.

“I think it was an appropriate sentence. The judge looked at him and all his issues,” Shellnutt said outside court.

“He’s got to do some community service. He’s got to give back.”

An animal rights activist called the sentence too light.

“He’s a sick individual. He definitely needs help,” said Heather Anderson of the Daisy Foundation of Calgary, who attended the sentencing hearing.

Anderson had previously told court he took responsibility for his actions, and that they were sparked by stress and financial woes.



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