Ross Lutz Barristers | Criminal Defence Lawyers

Ross Lutz Barristers |
Criminal Defence Lawyers

Call Us Icon Criminal Lawyers Phone Number

Call: (587) 323 – 7882

Email Us Icon Criminal Lawyers Email


Charged of

Animal Cruelty

Animal Cruelty Charges

Finding An experienced criminal defence lawyer

animal cruelty

Sections 444 to 447 of the Criminal Code of Canada are in place to help protect animals. Each province has its own separate set of legislation as well. We will discuss Alberta's Animal Protection Act in detail below. If you're facing animal cruelty charges, you must seek out an experienced criminal defence lawyer immediately.

Animal cruelty in the Criminal Code's sections 445 and 445.1 is defined as killing or causing unnecessary suffering to animals. If the criminal charge is for neglecting to care for an animal, typically, the charge will fall under section 446. In 2008, parliament increased the penalties for animal cruelty charges. These charges are very serious.

Facing Charges From Section 445, 445.1 Or 446 Of The Criminal Code ?

If you are facing charges from sections 445, 445.1 or 446 of the Criminal Code, there will be a thorough investigation. When the officer arrests you, you may see release directly after the arrest either with or without conditions. Since these charges deal with the care of animals, the release conditions will typically have prohibitions on owning animals or having them under your care and control.

If you are not released directly after the arrest, you will see a justice of the peace or a provincial court judge to determine if you can be released on bail. If the court grants you bail, there will be bail conditions that will both restrict your liberties and determine whether or not you can own or care for animals while going through this court process.

animal cruelty
animal cruelty

What If I Am A Farmer Or Rancher & I Have Been Charged?

Section 445 of the Code deals with cattle and is aimed at holding anyone responsible who: "kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures cattle; or places poison in such a position that animals may easily consume it." 

Additionally, Alberta has enacted the Animal Protection Act Regulation, prohibiting anyone from causing unnecessary pain or allowing an animal to be in distress.

My Potential Defences For Animal Cruelty

Animal charges require the prosecution to prove that you intentionally caused an injury, unnecessary suffering, killed, or failed to perform an action you were obligated to complete regarding the care of an animal. There are several defences that your lawyer can pursue for your animal cruelty charges, and it depends on the circumstances of your case.


Meet With A Lawyer For A

Free Consult

animal cruelty


When there is property involved, in this case, animals or cattle, you can face charges regardless of whether you have a partial interest in what has been damaged or destroyed.

Therefore, you must meet with a lawyer to discuss the details surrounding the event. For the prosecution to prove that you willfully committed one of these offences, they must demonstrate that you:

  • Caused The Event Alleged By Act Or Omission
  • Knew That The Act/Omission Would Probably Cause The Occurrence Of The Event
  • Were Reckless As To Whether It Occurred Or Not

The prosecution must also prove that you had no legal justification or excuse with respect to your action or omission.

The Penalties For Animal Cruelty

The law has mandated that imprisonment is almost always required for denunciation and deterrence to be achieved. If the prosecution decides to proceed by summary conviction, you can face up to 18 months of sentencing and up to a $10,000 fine. If they proceed by indictment, depending on what charges you're facing, you could be facing a maximum sentence of between two and five years.

Why Are These Penalties So Harsh?

The penalties for animal cruelty charges exist because the courts and parliament have addressed and continue to emphasize the human responsibility we have towards animals. The law views cruelty against animals extremely seriously. It is essential that you speak to a qualified criminal defence lawyer if you're facing animal cruelty charges.

animal cruelty

Animal Protection Act Of Alberta

The Animal Protection Act protects mistreated animals and holds negligent owners accountable for their actions. The Act provides a definition for distress, along with detailing what owners need to do to take care of their pets, prohibitions against abandoning animals, and sets out the powers of Peace Officers in these cases.

Animal Distress & Caretaker's Duties

Under the Animal Protection Act, an animal is in distress if they are:

  • Deprived Of Shelter, Ventilation, Food, Water & Veterinary Care
  • Denied Proper Protection From Extreme Cold & Heat
  • Injured, Sick, In Pain Or Suffering
  • Abused Or Subjected To Unjust Neglect

Individuals that own and care for animals must carry out the following duties:

  • Provide Adequate Food & Water
  • Provide Reasonable Protection From Hot & Cold Conditions
  • Provide Adequate Shelter, Ventilation, & Space
  • Provide Reasonable Veterinary Care To Injured, Sick, Or Suffering Animals
lawyer reading about Alberta's protection act
Figure of Justice holding the scales of justice

Power Of Peace Officers

The Animal Protection Act allows Peace Officers to decide to take an animal into custody or otherwise relieve it of distress if they deem the owner incapable or unlikely to care for the animal. A common example of this is if a dog is left outdoors during a cold winter day and has no shelter or protection from the weather. Peace Officers can come and remove the dog from this situation. Additionally, the most common grounds that Peace Officers will seize an animal on are if an animal is abandoned or left for more than 24 hours without adequate food, water or shelter.

Charged Under The Animal Protection Act Of Alberta?

Anyone that violates the Animal Protection Act regulations is guilty of an offence and is liable for a fine of up to $20,000. If you are found guilty, the court may prohibit you from having custody or care of an animal for a set period of time. If you are currently facing charges under the Animal Protection Act, you should seek a criminal lawyer to help you defend your charges to avoid fines. Contact us today to see how we can help.