R v Ragnanan, 2014 MBCA 1 (CanLII)

The applicant (Ragnanan) seeks leave to appeal the dismissal of her summary conviction appeal of convictions under The Animal Care Act. The convictions relate to the care and housing of dogs on property that she owned with the co-accused. The two were tried jointly on eight counts of various breaches of The Animal Care Act and the Animal Care Regulation. The trial judge found them guilty of four counts and imposed fines on each count. They appealed their convictions and sentences. The appeals were dismissed. The co-accused passed away prior to the date set for the hearing of the applications for leave to appeal the dismissal; accordingly, only the applicant’s leave application proceeded. The applicant’s notice of motion for leave to appeal cites six grounds of appeal.

The facts of the convictions are as follows: an animal protection officer received a tip that a lot of dogs were at a location and that a vehicle with the logo “labradoodles for sale” was parked there. The officer visited the property to check out if there was a kennel being operated there and to drop off kennel licensing information. He found a large number of dogs being kept in two sheds on the property. The officer forgot to leave a notice of inspection, but advised his superior (a veterinarian and animal protection officer) of what he saw on the property. His superior prepared an information to obtain a search warrant, but that search warrant was denied. He then met with a Crown attorney and a member of the Constitutional Law Branch. Afterwards, he visited the property. The trial judge accepted his evidence, including that he believed the dogs were part of a commercial operation. The veterinarian seized the dogs and removed them from the property. The trial judge accepted his evidence that he found the dogs were in distress. Then the applicant was served with a notice of seizure and subsequently charged. She was then convicted of: confining animals in an enclosure without adequate ventilation; confining animals where there is a high risk of injury or distress due to inadequate lighting and unsanitary conditions; and confining animals in a facility that contains items or debris that constitutes a hazard likely to injury the animal. She was sentenced to fines totaling $6,000.

On appeal, the summary conviction appeal judge concluded that the applicant had not demonstrated any error of law by the trial judge in ruling that the searches and seizure were authorized by law. It was important that the searches did not involve a dwelling house. He showed deference, as he was required to do, to the trial judge’s findings of credibility and facts.

The Court of Appeal of Manitoba indicates that the threshold for granting leave to appeal a summary conviction appeal is a high one and will be granted only in exceptional circumstances. An applicant seeking leave to appeal from a summary conviction appeal decision must satisfy the following criteria: 1. the ground of appeal must involve a question of law alone; 2. the ground of appeal must raise an arguable matter of substance; and 3. the arguable matter must be of sufficient importance to merit the attention of the full court. Access to the court for a second-level appeal should be limited to those cases in which the applicant can demonstrate some exceptional circumstance justifying a further appeal.

None of the grounds of appeal meet the criteria for granting leave to appeal. Only two of the six grounds relate to questions of law alone; the other grounds are denied for not raising a question of law alone. The applicant fails to prove the remaining two grounds. Even had she raised an arguable question of law, the judge determines that there are no exceptional circumstances to warrant a second-level appeal.

Applicant’s motion is dismissed.

Source: Case Law

Jurisdiction: Manitoba

Topics: Animal Care Regulationanimal control officerappealchargescommercialconvictioncredibilitydeferencedistressdogserror of lawfinesguiltyhazardinadequate lightinginadequate shelterinadequate ventilationinspectionkennellabradoodlesleave to appealmotionseizureshedsummary conviction appealThe Animal Care Actthresholdveterinarianwarrant

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