Adjournment in Sundre horse killing case

Adjournment in Sundre horse killing case


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

The Cruelty Connection

The Cruelty Connection

Is there a connection between animal cruelty and human violence?

Research has shown that there is a connection between animal abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, bullying and other forms of violence. Intentional animal cruelty or abuse can be a warning sign that an individual has already experienced violence and may be predisposed to committing other crimes such as vandalism, arson, physical assault and even murder. A child who has abused an animal could be the victim of abuse and are at a greater risk of mimicking the abusive behaviour. If it goes unreported….everyone suffers.

What is the connection between animal cruelty and family violence?

Animal cruelty and/or abuse in the family represents a hierarchy of power and control. It is used to manipulate, control and isolate a victim of domestic violence. Pets are generally considered a part of the family and ultimately can share the suffering that occurs when there is violence in the home. The abuser may use violence, or threat of violence against animals, to terrorize, manipulate and control the human victim. Killing or removing the family pet can isolate the person who is being abused. Some victims will stay in destructive relationship due to threats against, or out of concern for, their companion animals. Animals may even be used to perpetrate sexual abuse. There is strong evidence connecting animals’ abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse. This sometimes can even escalate to individuals outside of the family.

Calgary Humane Society Research

The Calgary Humane Society undertook a collaborative study with the YWCA Family Violence Prevention Centre, the Sheriff King Home and with researcher Sue McIntosh that was supported by RESOLVE Alberta. The 2001 study showed a direct connection between family violence and animal abuse in Calgary. It also indicated that animal cruelty may be a warning of future violence.

Here are key study results:

  • 56% of participants reported their abuser had threatened to hurt or kill or had actually hurt or killed a family pet
  • 65% reported their children were aware their pets had been hurt or killed and felt their children had been impacted
  • 25% of participants reported they had delayed their decision to leave their situation out of fear for their pet’s safety
  • 21% reported their abusive partners had abused animals as a child
  • 16% reported concerns their children may have hurt or killed a pet

Without intervention, the cycle of violence will continue. It’s important to be responsible and take the opportunity to intervene when people or animals are abused end the cycle of violence.

reprinted from Calgary Humane Society

More reading —

The Animal Cruelty Syndrome, NY Times

Support GOOD Animal Cruelty Legislation!

Support GOOD Animal Cruelty Legislation!

Canadians must speak out to stop the passage of ineffective, outdated animal cruelty legislation from being passed in our House of Commons.

BILL S-203

Bill S-203 is a private member’s bill in the Senate. It has passed the Senate, passed Second Reading in the House and is awaiting debate by the Justice and Human Rights Committee, likely this fall.

Bill S-203 makes NO changes to today’s archaic and wholly inadequate offences; it will only increase the penalties. Increased penalties are important, but ultimately meaningless when the offences are so problematic that many cases can’t even be prosecuted.

Bill S-203

* makes it difficult to prosecute cases of neglect, even when dozens of animals have been starved to death
* allows the training of animals for dog fights, cockfights or other types of animal fighting
* permits killing stray or wild animals for no particular reason
* provides extra protection for cattle and other animals and less protection for stray or wild animals
* doesn’t make it a crime to kill animals brutally or viciously
* considers animal cruelty a property offence
* doesn’t offer specific protection for law enforcement animals

BILL C-229 (formerly titled C-373)

Bill C-229 (formerly known as Bill C-373), a private member’s bill in the House, would fix all of the above problems, as well as increase the penalties. This bill is virtually identical to one that came excruciatingly close to being passed in 2003 when it was supported unanimously in the House of Commons.

That bill was also supported by a huge number of animal use industries representing farmers, trappers and scientific researchers, as well as veterinarians, police associations and animal protection groups.

Unfortunately, the Senate stood in the way of that bill and then it died when Parliament dissolved.

Here’s what you can do to help


You can participate in our petition drive by signing the online petition or printing the paper version of the petition and circulating it in your area.

PLEASE NOTE! Paper and ink petitions are way more effective and carry much more weight in the House of Commons! Canadian residents, please be sure to print, sign and send in paper petition as well if at all possible!


Send a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking him to PASS Bill C-229 to amend the Animal Cruelty Law. Or download this one, sign it, include your address and mail it to him.

Dog owner jailed for animal cruelty

Dog owner jailed for animal cruelty


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.

Read more:

Read the article

Jail urged for dog abuser

Jail urged for dog abuser


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.

Read the article

Animal rights group calls for changes in the law

Animal rights group calls for changes in the law


Three separate cases involving animal cruelty were before the courts in Calgary on Tuesday.

One of the cases involved Bradley Bergman. The 56-year-old plead guilty to tying a noose around the neck of his girlfriend’s dog and threatening to hand and gut the animal.

While the cases were going on inside, The Daisy Foundation held a demonstration outside. “As far as the law goes, because this was his property, he’s probably going to get away with it, because of the property law in Canada – that animals are considered property – which is ridiculous,” says Heather Anderson, a member of the animal rights group.

Also in court on Tuesday was Donald Ainsworth. He pled guilty to animal cruelty for beating his dog with a flashlight – an assault that left the animal blind in one eye.

The third case involved a man accused of beating to death a four-month-old puppy. This case has been set over.

“It just goes to show how many cases are really happening in this county. And when you consider these are the cases going to court, what about the ones that didn’t have enough evidence,” says Anderson.

The Daisy Foundation says changes are needed to Canadian law so animal abusers are given stiffer sentences. The group is lobbying the federal government to pass Bill C-229.

Read the article

Abused puppy case given $9,400 boost

Abused puppy case given $9,400 boost


The search for the person who savagely beat a three-month-old puppy was thrown a $9,400 treat by a donor furious over the assault.

The donation to the animal advocate Daisy Foundation brings the total bounty for information leading to the conviction of the animal abuser to at least $10,500, said the group’s founder, Heather Anderson.

“We were hoping it would go to $1,000, then this,” said Anderson, adding the anonymous donor owns two dogs.

“He’s obviously an animal lover and he was obviously mad about it.”

On Nov. 3, the bloodied, emaciated and unconscious Doberman pup was found in the parking lot of the Calgary North Veterinary Hospital at 4202 4 St. N.W.

Among the wounds suffered by the dog nicknamed Mike was a broken left foreleg and head injuries. But after surgery, the animal is recovering well, say Calgary Humane Society officials.

Henderson said news of the donation — given Thursday — has already made a difference in the investigation.

“We had more leads this morning than we had when the fund was at $600,” she said.

Even if the reward is claimed, Henderson said the foundation is determined to create a permanent cash pool for such cases.

And unless Canadians press politicians to increase the penalties for animal abuse, such donations will continue to be needed, she said.

“Even we get a conviction for this guy, he’ll just get a slap on the wrist,” she said.

Anyone with information that can lead to the name of the dog’s owner is urged to call the Calgary Humane Society at 403-723-6038.

Read the article

Pay up

Pay up

By Judy Taylor

Re: “Owner says sentence in sheep attack too lenient,” Oct. 22.

I don’t cry easily, but this kind of cruelty toward animals brings tears to my eyes. Fifty months of community service (likely only a few hours a year) and a fine of $607 payable to the owner is laughable. Why is the brutal beating of an animal treated so lightly?

I know money isn’t everything, but perhaps people who commit such brutality should feel it for the rest of their lives. Would a required contribution to the Daisy Foundation (Delegates Against Inhumane Suffering) of $100 per month for the rest of their lives be out of line? It might make them think twice, and it might just save just a few animals from such a horrible fate. That money could go a long way toward education and animal rescue.

Calgary-area sheep owner says teen attacker’s sentence too lenient

Calgary-area sheep owner says teen attacker’s sentence too lenient

Youth must pay fine, serve community

By Gwendolyn Richards; Calgary Herald, Photograph by The Gazette/Marie-France Coallier

CALGARY – A sentence of probation and community service for a Strathmore teen who attacked a sheep– injuring it to the point it had to be put down–doesn’t fit the crime, says the animal’s owner.

The youth, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was ordered to perform 50 months of community service and pay restitution of $607 to owner Mel Smart.

Smart, who has been to all of the teen’s court appearances since the June 2008 incident, said she expected nothing more from the sentence considering the limitations of youth court guidelines, but is still disappointed.

“I certainly don’t think beating– resulting in the death of an animal–versus probation is any way, shape or form equal,” she said Wednesday. “I always hope that some sort of justice is going to prevail. But, unfortunately, the way the youth court system works in Canada, that’s not going to happen.”

Smart had loaned her herd of about 300 sheep to the Strathmore Agricultural Society to help maintain its grounds last summer.

The animals were behind a two-metre high, chain link fence when four teens entered the area and harassed the animals. The youth used a hockey stick to beat the sheep.

Smart said one ewe had to be put down due to extensive injuries, and more than a dozen others were injured.

Four teens were charged with trespassing and one faced the second charge of injuring cattle.

He pleaded guilty to the second charge in Strathmore provincial court. The trespassing charge was withdrawn.

According to Smart, the judge blasted the teen, who was under probation at the time of the incident, and adjourned court to allow the youth and his family to make arrangements to get the money for restitution so it could be paid that day.

Animal activist Heather Anderson said she was surprised the teen pleaded guilty and saddened the sentence did not reflect the brutality of the crime.

“Every bone was shattered,” she said. “She had to lay there until she was found.”

Anderson, who created the DAISY Foundation, said cases like these indicate there is a need for tougher penalties for animal cruelty.

“There’s no difference between animal abuse and people abuse and it has to stop,” she said.

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