R v Boyetchko 2007 BCPC

SPCA Special Officer Marsall responded to a call from a veterinary clinic informing her of a cat in distress. The veterinary clinic had received a call informing them of a cat who had been given human anti-anxiety pills the previous evening and was now not doing very well. The clinic contacted Officer Marsall after being unable to come to an arrangement for the cat’s care with the caller. Officer Marsall found the cat in a semi-comatose state and took the cat into custody under s. 14 of the Provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. On examination by a veterinarian, the cat was determined to be in critical distress and was euthanized.

An autopsy found the cat was suffering for renal disease, but the veterinarian believed the cat’s state was more likely due to other causes. The accused, the caller’s mother, on examination revealed that the cat’s health had been failing for two months prior to the SPCA’s involvement. She had been making arrangements to have the cat euthanized, but was waiting till her pay day to have it done. She administered ativan with the intention of alleviating the cat’s pain temporarily, until the cat could be euthanized. She believed that she had no need to consult a vet in regards to giving a cat human medication as she was a nurse.

The Crown argued that the accused’s actions both in the administration of human medication and delaying the cat’s euthanization were irresponsible and unacceptable. They requested restitution for the cat’s medical treatment under s. 20(1) of the Provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and a $230 fine.

The Defence argued that the pain caused to the cat was unintentional and that the delay in euthanizing the cat was caused by the owner’s attachment to her pet.

The Court sympathized with Ms. Boyetchko but emphasized that she must act responsibly with her next pet. The Court followed the Crown’s suggestion for the fine and restitution.

Source: Case Law

Jurisdiction: British Columbia

Topics: animal crueltycateuthanizationnegligence

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