Anderson Joe will receive a suspended sentence in the death of Teddy the dog.
Joe had pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal and failing to provide the necessities of life for an animal on March 18 and was in the Duncan court house on Vancouver Island on Nov. 18 to receive his sentence from Judge Mayland McKimm.
Joe will be on probation for three months in which McKimm instructed that he must keep the peace and be on good behaviour during that time.
He also received a lifetime ban on owning any type of animal or living in a home where animals reside.
Defence lawyer Michael Ritzker asked that Joe be given a conditional discharge to prevent him from receiving a criminal record for the first time, but while McKimm acknowledged that Joe has had a hard life and has cognitive disabilities, he has the responsibility to send a strong message to society that mistreating animals is not acceptable.
“I have to take a strong public position on animal abuse,” McKimm said in front of a packed courtroom.
“Many cases call out for jail sentences, but this is not one of them. Mr. Joe can apply for a pardon at the end of his three month probation and that is a three-year process.”
Joe could have faced a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine on top of the lifetime ban on owning animals.
Meanwhile, Melissa Tooshley, who had pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to provide the necessities of life for an animal in the same case earlier in the trial, has withdrawn her guilty plea and is scheduled to be in the Duncan court house on Nov. 21.
In one of the most profoundly shocking and disturbing cases of abuse the BC SPCA has ever witnessed, special constables seized Teddy in critical distress at the end of short leash from Anderson’s property on Feb. 16, 2018.
Teddy was severely emaciated and was on a tether only a few inches long, standing in a pile of mud and feces when he was seized. Teddy’s collar was so deeply embedded into his neck that his head had swollen to two or three times its normal size, and there was a severe infection in his neck. The wound from the collar exposed the dog’s trachea and jugular vein.
Despite extensive emergency treatment and around-the-clock care, the dog succumbed to his critical condition two days later, the SPCA reported.
The story went province wide, and demonstrators holding signs against animal abuse have been common at each of Joe’s court appearances.
Prosecutor John Blackman laid out the Crown’s case on Monday, and acknowledged that Joe has severe cognitive disabilities and intellectual deficits.
Blackman also said Joe has a long history of unemployment, had suffered physical and sexual abuse as a boy in residential schools and was the victim of racism in public schools.
He also abused alcohol and drugs as a young man, but has been clean and sober for many years after joining the Shaker Church.
“We don’t believe there was any intent by Joe to harm the dog,” he said.
“This offence is extremely serious, but because of Joe’s intellectual impairments, we question how culpable he was. At the age of 63, Joe has no criminal record, spends much of his life assisting at his church or longhouse, and the rest at home with his family. What’s required is for him to be prohibited from owning another animal for life. We recommend a suspended sentence.”
In his efforts to convince McKimm that Joe should receive a conditional discharge, Ritzker reiterated many of the points made by Blackman, pointing out that the psychology reports on Joe indicate that his intellectual functions are less than 99 per cent of the population.
“Teddy’s life was like a house of horrors, but this man’s life has also been a house of horrors at times,” he said.
“Dogs got more consideration than little indigenous kids in those times [of the residential schools].”
Ritzker said Teddy was given to Joe just weeks before his death.
He said Joe was heading to a longhouse for spiritual healing for many days and left the care of Teddy to other people in his community before he left.
Ritzker said Joe tried unsuccessfully to get help for Teddy upon his return, finding the dog in a bad condition.
“There might have been other things that he could have done, but he couldn’t think of them,” he said.
“There was no malice of callousness on Joe’s behalf. Rather, his lack of action was the result of his cognitive deficiencies and his lack of ability to understand the consequences. The dog was foisted upon him so there’s more blame to go around here.”
Some of the spectators in the courtroom began to get restless when they realized that Joe’s sentence was not to be nearly as severe as they had hoped.
One woman stormed out the door and loudly yelled that “it’s worse than bad here”.
After the sentencing, many stood outside the court house discussing the case.
Rena Van Steele said that she was “very upset”.
“I had not expected to see Joe’s mental capacity so bad,” she said.
“The first question I have is why did no one else go to that home while Teddy was suffering outside? Where were the neighbours? I want to hate Joe and all animal abusers but I can’t hate him now. I feel that we let Teddy down.”