By Jane Sims, The London Free Press
Found abandoned, Diesel the dog had been locked in a cage with no food or water.
Thursday, a judge imposed a month of house arrest on the dog’s former owner to give him a taste of “what it’s like to be caged.”
“You need to understand, to a certain extent, what the dog was going through,” Ontario Court Justice Wayne Rabley told Allan Guest, 39, of London.
“This is not just an animal. This is a creature that deserves respect.”
Guest was found guilty of animal cruelty after a trial in April when Rabley heard about the pit bull found near death and an owner unable to cope with the multiple stresses in his life.
At trial, Guest insisted he’d fed and walked the dog daily before Diesel was rescued.
The dog was found so emaciated his ribs stuck out. His nails were overgrown, some of his fur was missing and blood was on the walls from the dog wagging his tail so hard it bled.
The cage was full of feces and ripped newspaper.
The empty food and water bowls were outside the cage.
The Wharncliffe Rd. apartment where investigators found the dog and a cat named Tiny was damaged, with an overwhelming smell of urine and feces.
Diesel gained 16 kg in the care of the humane soceiety. He’s since been moved to another province.
At his sentencing, Guest admitted he hadn’t looked after the dog properly.
“I would like to say sorry for the improper care of the animal,” he said, asking for “forgiveness.”
Assistant Crown attorney James Spangenberg said Guest took on a pet, despite his poor coping skills and lack of control in his personal life. He suggested Guest still lacked insight into his crime.
Defence lawyer Scott Schuessler told Rabley Guest has been “devastated by the result of the trial, that he is seen as an abuser of animals.”
A pre-sentence report revealed Guest had experienced numerous family stresses and appears to have poor coping mechanisms. He’s been unable to find steady, full-time work and his lon-term relationship recently ended.
He has a short criminal record for impaired driving in the 1990s and, more recently, an assault.
Guest is taking counseling and has involved himself in a job training workshop.
Rabley said he recognized Guest was “overwhelmed” when the dog was found in distress, but that he had to do what he believes the community expects – deliver a sentence to send the message that animal abuse won’t be tolerated.
He said he believed the abuse wasn’t intentional — if it was, Guest would have been jailed — but the result of negligence.
The judge said he was impressed Guest appeared to be trying to improve his life.
The 30-day jail sentence, he said, could be served in the community with a strict curfew of 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Rabley said the conditional sentence and confinement at home wouldn’t be easy. He wanted Guest to continue to look for a job.
Guest was also banned from having any pets for five years. Rabley said he expects that once he serves the term, Guest will be “a good pet owner and that animal will be loved.”
“I don’t expect to see you again,” the judge told him.
“You won’t, sir,” Guest replied.