Jail urged for dog abuser

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.

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