Friday, December 10, 2010

Animal cruelty charge: Not guilty

By Louise Dickson, Times Colonist

Victoria environmentalist Sydney Haskell has been acquitted of a charge under the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Haskell, president of the Carmanah Forestry Society, was charged last year with causing an animal to continue to be in distress. The charge was laid in October 2009 after Haskell took his dog, Cosmos, a pit bull-Labrador cross, to a park with a large, gaping wound on his leg. Another park user complained to the SPCA.
Two days later, SPCA Const. Erika Paul ordered Haskell to seek treatment for the dog within 48 hours. Instead, Haskell surrendered Cosmos to the SPCA.
At trial last week, Haskell testified that his dog probably injured himself trying to get out of his yard on Richardson Street. Cosmos had suffered similar smaller wounds in the past that had healed on their own, he told the court.
When Haskell first saw the wound, he took the dog home, bathed it and checked it for infection, he testified.
After receiving the SPCA order, Haskell phoned Paul and asked her if he could have more time to allow the wound to heal on its own. She refused and said the order stood. The next morning, Haskell surrendered the dog to the SPCA. "My understanding was I would not be charged if I did," he testified.
Veterinarian Dr. Adrian Russell, who treated Cosmos at the Elk Lake Veterinary Hospital, testified that the cut, measuring seven centimetres by one centimetre, had gone through the skin, exposing tissue. When he examined the wound, Russell found yellow-green discharge which indicated that it was infected. "Left untouched, the injury may have resulted in death," Russell testified.
Victoria provincial court Judge Sue Wishart found the Crown had not proved that Cosmos was in distress. She also found the Crown had not proved that Haskell had not provided adequate care for the injured animal.

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