Robert Barron column: Animal cruelty laws need an overhaul

I expect that, as his victim was an animal, Springer will likely receive just a slap on the wrist

I’m always amazed at just how cruel people can be.

The hair on the back of my neck stiffened when I recently read about the horrendous death of a dog in New Brunswick two years ago after its owner locked him in a room in his rented home for two months while he went on vacation.

Needless to say, the poor dog, called Diesel, died of starvation but not before it spent an incredible amount of time suffering before finally succumbing to its hunger pangs.

The owner, Kyle Springer, pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of cruelty to animals in Woodstock, N.B., provincial court earlier this week and now faces a fine not exceeding $10,000, or up to 18 months in prison, or a combination of both.

I expect that, as his victim was an animal, Springer will likely receive just a slap on the wrist for his egregious behaviour.

As a pet owner for most of my life, with a clear understanding of just how intelligent and loving dogs and cats can be, I firmly believe that the punishment in these cases hardly fits the crime.

I find it hard to believe that someone who has invested time, effort and (dare I say) emotion into raising a puppy to adulthood could even think of just locking the poor animal in a room with no food for two months without even giving a thought to at least having someone come by to feed the dog and exercise it on a regular basis.

Apparently, Springer just snickered as he got into his vehicle after leaving court earlier this week when a group of people came to protest the abuse to the dog, so I don’t think he’s feeling much remorse at all.

Duncan’s Anderson Joe and Melissa Tooshley are heading to trial next month at the Duncan courthouse on charges of animal cruelty.

It was one of the most profoundly shocking and disturbing cases of abuse the BC SPCA ever witnessed, they said, as special constables seized the emaciated and chained Teddy in critical distress from the residence of Joe and Tooshley in February 2018.

The dog was found on a tether that was only a few inches long, standing in a large pile of mud and feces, and not only was Teddy severely emaciated, but his collar was deeply embedded into his neck, causing massive infection so severe that the dog’s head was swollen to two to three times its normal size.

Teddy died two days later.

While the maximum penalty Joe and Tooshley face — up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine and up to a lifetime ban on owning animals — is more harsh than what Springer could face, it still seems to me to be inadequate considering the gravity of suffering Teddy endured.

The federal Liberals had been promising to overhaul animal protection provisions in the Criminal Code for some time, and introduced Bill C-84 in October.

But although the bill includes important changes cracking down on bestiality and animal fighting for sport, it doesn’t include basic standards of care and housing, as well as restrictions on tethering for domestic animals.

It’s time that we put policies in place to properly protect animals and discourage people from abusing their pets.

Cases like Teddy and Diesel should never happen again.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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