Animal Cruelty

The offence of animal cruelty is outlined in section 445.1(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of animal cruelty when they wilfully cause or permit any unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury to an animal or bird.

A person also commits the offence of animal cruelty when they, wilfully and without reasonable excuse, administer or permit the administration of a poisonous or injurious substance to a domestic or captive animal or bird.

A person also commits the offence of animal cruelty when they encourage, aid, promote, arrange, assist at, receive money, or take any part in the fighting or baiting of animals or birds or train, transport, or breed animals or birds to fight.

A person also commits the offence of animal cruelty when they promote, arrange, conduct, assist in, receive money for, or take part in any situation where captive birds are to be released to be shot, or when they allow their premises to be used for such an event.

Examples

Person A cuts the wings off his pet bird to prevent it from flying around their apartment.

Person B allows person C to poison person B’s cat, to see what would happen to the cat.

Person D organizes a dog fighting event in his parent’s basement and trains his own dog to fight in the event.

Person E goes to a party at person F’s house where person E helps release captive birds for other party guests to shoot.

Cases

R. v. Tieu, 2020 ONSC 7758

In R. v. Tieu, the accused was convicted of one count of animal cruelty when he placed a live puppy in a garbage bin near the entrance of a public mall after wrapping it in several tied shopping bags.

R. v. Way, 2016 ONCJ 126

In R. v. Way, the accused was charged with animal cruelty for having 107 cats in her home living in filth, disease, and squalor. The accused’s cats all had several health problems, and the accused’s home was inhabitable, with walls and furniture rotting and covered in cat waste and fur.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Accident

Where the person accidentally causes any unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury to an animal or bird or where they accidentally administer a poisonous or injurious substance to a domestic or captive animal or bird, they may not have completed the offence of animal cruelty.

No Permission

Where the person does not permit someone else to inflict unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to their animal or bird, does not permit the administration of a poisonous or injurious substance to their animal or bird, or does not permit their premises to be used for an event where captive birds are released to be shot, but it is done anyways against their will, they may not have completed the offence of animal cruelty.

Other Event or Business

Where the person is encouraging, aiding, promoting, arranging, assisting with, receiving money for, allowing their premises to be used for, or taking any part in a business relating to animals or birds other than fighting, baiting, or releasing birds to be shot, or where the person is training, transporting, or breeding animals or birds for any purpose other than fighting or baiting, they may not have completed the offence of animal cruelty.

Reasonable Excuse / Necessary Suffering

Where the person has a reasonable excuse to administer or permit the administration of a poisonous or injurious substance to a domestic or captive animal or bird, they may not have completed the offence of animal cruelty. Similarly, where the animal or bird’s pain, suffering, or injury is necessary, the person causing or permitting it will not have completed the offence of animal cruelty. A reasonable excuse or necessary suffering could include medical reasons, such as the need to administer substances to induce vomiting in an animal after they accidentally ate something harmful, for example.

Other Living Being

Where the elements of the offence of animal cruelty are made out but the victim of the offence is not an animal or bird, or, in the case of administering or permitting the administration of a poisonous or injurious substance, not a domesticated or captive animal or bird, but some other living being such as an insect or a human, the person may not have completed the offence of animal cruelty.

Not a Poisonous or Injurious Substance

Where the person wilfully administers a substance that is not harmful to a domestic or captive animal or bird, they may not have completed the offence of animal cruelty. For example, where person A gives their dog food with questionable or controversial ingredients, but this does not harm their dog and was not intended to harm them, the person may not have completed the offence of animal cruelty.

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