The accused, Mr. Gerling, was charged with two counts, Count 1 being that he did wilfully cause unnecessary pain or suffering to dogs, contrary to s. 445.1(1)(a) of the Criminal Code; and Count 2 being the owner or the person having custody or control of a domestic animal who abandons it in distress or wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care for it, contrary to s. 446(1)(b) of the Criminal Code. Mr. Gerling plead not guilty to both charges.
BCSPCA authorized agents issued a number of orders to Mr. Gerling through the years to relieve what they considered to be signs of distress in dogs found on his premises. The Crown suggested that certain orders had not been complied with by the accused Gerling and at the very least the distress indicated in these orders could support the charges. However, the Court did not find that any orders supported the charges.
The Crown then suggested the court could consider only the inspection of the dogs and the seizure of the dogs to support the criminal charges. The Constable observed the 11 dogs which she described in terms that would indicate they were in distress as defined in the Act. They had soiled coats, long nails splayed and curled upwards, foul-smelling mouths, and all needed treatment for their teeth. The Constable swore an affidavit to obtain a search warrant, the warrant was issued that same day.
The warrant authorized an agent of the BCSPCA to enter the premises on September 24, 2010 between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. to determine whether any action authorized by the Act should be taken to relieve the animal’s distress and to “take such action” and “to search for and seize the things described, being deceased animals and veterinary records.” The warrant was executed and the Constable seized 14 dogs.
A veterinarian’s report was entered into evidence. The report included a summary which indicated that 13 of the 14 dogs had dental pathology requiring veterinary intervention with six of these requiring urgent care including treatment for pain and inflammation due to the severity and chronicity of the pathology.
After addressing the Charter issue, the Court found that Mr. Gerling acted wilfully and caused the actus reus knowing that suffering was a likely result or that a reasonable person would realize it was a likely result. Finding two charges proven beyond a reasonable doubt and Mr. Gerling therefore stood convicted of the charges.
Source: Case Law
Jurisdiction: British Columbia