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Not Guilty of Causing or Permitting Animal Distress

not guilty

As a criminal lawyer in Calgary, I recently represented a person charged with causing or permitting an animal to be in distress contrary to section 2(1) of the Animal Protection Act of Alberta. This provision states:

Prohibition against causing distress

  • 2 (1) No person shall cause or permit an animal of which the person is the owner or the person in charge to be or to continue to be in distress.
  • (1.1) No person shall cause an animal to be in distress.
  • (2) This section does not apply if the distress results from an activity carried on in accordance with the regulations or in accordance with reasonable and generally accepted practices of animal care, management, husbandry, hunting, fishing, trapping, pest control or slaughter.

My client and her husband obtained two kittens from a farm many years ago. The mother cat of these kittens was feral. She raised these kittens and cared for them for their entire lives. Eventually, one cat became ill (at age 15) and had to be euthanized. My client did not want her beloved cat to suffer or experience trauma so she had a mobile veterinarian attend to his needs in her home. She made sure his brother (cat) was present so he would understand what was happening. The mobile vet looked at the surviving cat and stated that she hoped he didn’t get diabetes. Her surviving cat mourned his brother. He stopped sleeping in his usual spot and his eating became finicky and sporadic. My client did what any normal person would do, she tried different foods and treats. This surviving cat had previously experienced trauma by attending the veterinary clinic. He would paw and meow the entire trip and hide when he got home. Therefore, my client and her husband had made a decision to not take him unless it was absolutely necessary. The cat (as all elderly animals do) experienced ups and downs for the next several months. Eventually, thinking he was depressed, she contacted the mobile veterinarian again. She eventually made an appointment. However, in the interim her cat vomited blood, so she made alternate arrangements and took him to the VCA Riverbend clinic. There he was examined and then eventually euthanized. The examining veterinarian reported suspected neglect. The cat’s body was seized and held. His body was frozen for several months until a necropsy was performed. That veterinarian suspected neglect for a period of nine months. She stated there would have been several outward signs that my client would have observed but ignored thereby committing the act of failing to provide adequate veterinary care. My client disputed these findings. She instructed me to proceed to trial.

The trial was scheduled for one day but instead spilled over to several days. Three veterinarians were called as expert witnesses. One veterinary pathologist was called as a fact witness. My client was prepared to testify. I put together a solid defence plan and at the end of a very long court battle, my client was found not guilty.

This case demonstrates the need to build a solid defence and how important it is to maintain your ground. At several points in the trial, I was asked to make concessions and concede certain facts or positions. I did not. I held the line, my client participated by preparing to give testimony and at the end of the day justice was achieved. There are really no better words other than “I find you NOT guilty.”

If you have been charged with animal neglect or animal abuse, you need a serious lawyer who defends serious accusations every single day.Call us now.

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