R v Harfman 2011 BCPC

Mr and Mrs Harfman were jointly charged under both the Criminal Code and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for their failure to provide adequate food and care to their livestock following a search by the SPCA. Under the Criminal Code, the Harfmans were charged with being the owners of the animals in question, wilfully permitting or causing unnecessary pain or suffering or injury to the animals. Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the Harfmans were charged with being persons responsible for the animals concerned, causing or permitting the animals to be or to continue to be in distress.

In the SPCA’s search, they found many of the animals were obviously emaciated and in distress due to their inadequate food supply. Several of the animals had to be put down. Other animals had problems stemming from the Harfmans’ lack of care (i.e. matted wool, long nails etc).

Mrs. Harfman was found not guilty of both counts due to evidence suggesting that she was not responsible for the animals, though she helped out on occasion with certain tasks.

Mr. Harfman was found guilty of both counts. His statements on the financial and environmental circumstances surrounding his failure to provide adequate food for his animals were ruled not to provide a defence given that the only defence to a strict liability crime is due diligence.

The Court gave Mr. Harfman a six month jail order to be served in the community. Mr. Harfman was also prohibited from owning, having custody of, or control of, or residing in the same premises as any animal or bird for 30 months.

Source: Case Law

Jurisdiction: British Columbia

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