Animal Cruelty (Offence)

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Animal Cruelty
s. 444, 445, 445.1 and 446 of the Crim. Code
Election / Plea
Crown Election Hybrid
summary proceedings must initiate within 6 months of the offence (786(2))
Jurisdiction Prov. Court

Sup. Court w/ Jury (*)
Sup. Court w/ Judge-alone (*)

* Must be indictable. Preliminary inquiry also available.
Types of Release Release by Officer, Officer-in-charge, or Judge
Summary Dispositions
Avail. Disp. Discharge (730)

Suspended Sentence (731(1)(a))
Fine (734)
Fine + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail (718.3, 787)
Jail + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail + Fine (734)

Conditional Sentence (742.1)
Minimum None
Maximum 6 months or 18 months incarceration or $10,000 fine
Indictable Dispositions
Avail. Disp. same as summary
Minimum None
Maximum 2 or 5 years incarceration
Reference
Offence Elements
Sentence Digests

Overview

Offences relating to animal cruelty are found in Part XI of the Criminal Code relating to "Wilful and Forbidden Acts in Respect of Certain Property".

There are four types of offences against animals generally. There is offences for injuring or endangering cattle (444), killing and harming animals (445), torturing animals (445.1), and neglecting animals (446). They are all found in Part XI of the Criminal Code relating to "Wilful and Forbidden Acts in Respect of Certain Property".

Pleadings

Offence
Section
Offence
Type
Crown Election Defence Election
s. 536(2)
s. 444 [injuring cattle],
s. 445 [killing and harming animals],
s. 445.01 [killing or injuring service animals],
s. 445.1 [causing unnecessary suffering] and
s. 446 [causing damage or injury]
Hybrid Offence(s) Yes Yes, if Crown proceeds by Indictment

Offences under s. 444, 445, 445.01, 445.1 and 446 are hybrid with a Crown election. If prosecuted by indictment, there is a Defence election of Court under s. 536(2).

Release
When charged under s. 444, 445, 445.1 and 446, the accused can be given an attendance notice without arrest under s. 496 or a summons. If arrested, he can be released by the arresting officer under s. 497 on a attendance notice or by an officer-in-charge under s. 498 on a promise to appear or recognizance. He can also be released by a justice under s. 515.

If police decide to bring the accused before a Justice pursuant to s. 503, there will be a presumption against bail (i.e. a reverse onus) if the offence, prosecuted by indictment, was committed:

  • while at large under s. 515 [bail release], 679 or 680 [release pending appeal or review of appeal] (s. 515(6)(a)(i));
  • "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association" with a criminal organization (s. 515(6)(a)(ii));
  • where the offence involved a firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance, while the accused was subject to a prohibition order preventing possession of these items (s. 515(6)(a)(viii)); or
  • where the accused is not "ordinarily a resident in Canada" (s. 515(6)(b)).

A peace officer who charges a person under s. 444, 445, 445.1 or 446 of the Code can require that person to attend for the taking of fingerprints, photographs or other similar recordings that are used to identify them under the Identification of Criminals Act.

Publication Bans
For all offences there is a discretionary general publication ban available on application of the Crown, victim or witness to prohibit the publishing of "any information that could identify the victim or witness" under s. 486.5(1) where it is "necessary" for the "proper administration of justice". Other available publication bans include prohibitions for publishing evidence or other information arising from a bail hearing (s. 517), preliminary inquiry (s. 539) or jury trial (s. 648). There is a mandatory publication ban in all youth prosecutions on information tending to identify young accused under s. 110 of the YCJA or young victims under s. 111 of the YCJA.

Offence Designations

See below in Ancillary Sentencing Orders for details on designations relating to sentencing orders.

Offence Wording

Injuring or endangering cattle
444. (1) Every one commits an offence who wilfully

(a) kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures cattle; or
(b) places poison in such a position that it may easily be consumed by cattle.

Punishment
(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of not more than eighteen months or to both.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 444; 2008, c. 12, s. 1.


CCC

Injuring or endangering other animals
445. (1) Every one commits an offence who, wilfully and without lawful excuse,

(a) kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures dogs, birds or animals that are not cattle and are kept for a lawful purpose; or
(b) places poison in such a position that it may easily be consumed by dogs, birds or animals that are not cattle and are kept for a lawful purpose.

Punishment
(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of not more than eighteen months or to both.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 445; 2008, c. 12, s. 1.


CCC

Killing or injuring certain animals
445.01 (1) Every one commits an offence who, wilfully and without lawful excuse, kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures a law enforcement animal while it is aiding a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer’s duties, a military animal while it is aiding a member of the Canadian Forces in carrying out that member’s duties or a service animal.

Punishment
(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years and, if a law enforcement animal is killed in the commission of the offence, to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than 18 months or to both.

Sentences to be served consecutively
(3) A sentence imposed on a person for an offence under subsection (1) committed against a law enforcement animal shall be served consecutively to any other punishment imposed on the person for an offence arising out of the same event or series of events.

Definitions
(4) The following definitions apply in this section.
"law enforcement animal" means a dog or horse that is trained to aid a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer’s duties.
"law enforcement officer" means a police officer, a police constable or any person referred to in paragraph (b), (c.1), (d), (d.1), (e) or (g) of the definition peace officer in section 2.
"military animal" means an animal that is trained to aid a member of the Canadian Forces in carrying out that member’s duties.
"service animal" means an animal that is required by a person with a disability for assistance and is certified, in writing, as having been trained by a professional service animal institution to assist a person with a disability.
2015, c. 34, s. 3.


CCC

Cruelty to Animals
Causing unnecessary suffering
445.1 (1) Every one commits an offence who

(a) wilfully causes or, being the owner, wilfully permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or a bird;
(b) in any manner encourages, aids or assists at the fighting or baiting of animals or birds;
(c) wilfully, without reasonable excuse, administers a poisonous or an injurious drug or substance to a domestic animal or bird or an animal or a bird wild by nature that is kept in captivity or, being the owner of such an animal or a bird, wilfully permits a poisonous or an injurious drug or substance to be administered to it;
(d) promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money for or takes part in any meeting, competition, exhibition, pastime, practice, display or event at or in the course of which captive birds are liberated by hand, trap, contrivance or any other means for the purpose of being shot when they are liberated; or
(e) being the owner, occupier or person in charge of any premises, permits the premises or any part thereof to be used for a purpose mentioned in paragraph (d).

Punishment
(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of not more than eighteen months or to both.

...
2008, c. 12, s. 1.


CCC

Causing damage or injury
446. (1) Every one commits an offence who

(a) by wilful neglect causes damage or injury to animals or birds while they are being driven or conveyed; or
(b) being the owner or the person having the custody or control of a domestic animal or a bird or an animal or a bird wild by nature that is in captivity, abandons it in distress or wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care for it.

Punishment
(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months or to both.

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 446; 2008, c. 12, s. 1.


CCC

Proof of the Offences

Proving killing and harming animals under s. 445(1)(a) should include:

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the culprit wilfully kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures a creature
  5. the creature is a dog, bird or animal that is not cattle
  6. the creature is kept for a lawful purpose
  7. the culprit had no lawful excuse

Proving killing and harming animals by poison under s. 445(1)(b) should include:

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the culprit wilfully places poison in such a position that it may easily be consumed by a creature
  5. the creature is a dog, bird or animal that is not cattle
  6. the creature is kept for a lawful purpose
  7. the culprit had no lawful excuse

Proving killing and harming animals under s. 445.1 should include:

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. harm to creature
    1. the culprit wilfully causes or, as an owner, wilfully permits to be caused harm to a creature
    2. the harm is "unnecessary pain, suffering or injury"
    3. the creature is a animal or bird.
  5. party to fighting or baiting
    1. the culprit does an act
    2. the act encourages, aids or assists at the fighting or baiting of a creatures
    3. the creature is an animal or bird
  6. drugging an animal
    1. the act encourages, aids or administers a thing to a creature
    2. the thing is a poisonous or an injurious drug or substance
    3. the creature is a domestic animal or bird or an animal or a bird wild by nature that is kept in captivity or being the owner of such an animal or a bird, wilfully permits a poisonous or an injurious drug or substance to be administered to it;
  7. party to shooting, or
    1. the culprit promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money for or takes part in occurrence
    2. that occurrence is a meeting, competition, exhibition, pastime, practice, display or event
    3. in the occurrence captive birds are liberated
    4. the liberation was by hand, trap, contrivance or any other means
    5. the liberation was for the purpose of being shot when they are liberated
  8. owner or occupant of shooting place
    1. the culprit is the owner, occupier or is in charge of a premises,
    2. the culprit permits the premises to be used for a purpose
    3. the purpose is one enumerated in s. 445.1(1)(d)

Proving neglecting animals under s. 446(a) should include:

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the culprit wilfully neglects a creature
  5. the act causes damage or injury to the creature
  6. the creature is an animal or bird
  7. the act occurs while being driven or conveyed

Proving neglecting animals under s. 446(b) should include:

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the culprit is the owner or has custody or control of a creature
  5. the creature is a "domestic animal or a bird or an animal or bird wild by nature"
  6. the creature is in captivity
  7. the culprit abandons the creature in distress or wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care for it.

Interpretation of the Offence

It has been recognized that intentional cruelty to animals is an indicator of a "potential for increasing violence and dangerousness" against people.[1]

Parliament amended s. 445(1) with An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals), SC 2008 c 12 increasing the maximum penalties. This has been interpreted as signaling that the previous penalties were "wholly inadequate" and that penalties in general should be increased."[2]

The person who "kept" the animal must exercise a degree of control over the animal.[3]

Presumptions on Intention and Baiting (445.1)

445.1.
...
Failure to exercise reasonable care as evidence
(3) For the purposes of proceedings under paragraph (1)(a), evidence that a person failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of an animal or a bird thereby causing it pain, suffering or injury is, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, proof that the pain, suffering or injury was caused or was permitted to be caused wilfully, as the case may be.
Presence at baiting as evidence
(4) For the purpose of proceedings under paragraph (1)(b), evidence that an accused was present at the fighting or baiting of animals or birds is, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, proof that he or she encouraged, aided or assisted at the fighting or baiting.
2008, c. 12, s. 1.


CCC


Evidence of Reasonable Care (446)

446.
...
Failure to exercise reasonable care as evidence
(3) For the purposes of proceedings under paragraph (1)(a), evidence that a person failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of an animal or a bird thereby causing it damage or injury is, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, proof that the damage or injury was caused by wilful neglect.


CCC

  1. Federal Dept. of Justice, Consultation Paper, Crimes Against Animals, 1998
    R v Clarke, 2001 CanLII 12453 (NL PC), [2001] NJ No 191 (NLPC)
    R v White, 2012 CanLII 43292 (NLPC)
    R v Brown, 2004 ABPC 17 (CanLII), [2004] AJ No 201 (ABPC) at para 31
  2. R v Connors, 2011 BCPC 24 (CanLII), [2011] BCJ 168 (BCPC)
  3. R v Clarke, 2001 CanLII 12453 (NL PC), at para 73

Participation of Third Parties

See also: Role of the Victim and Third Parties and Testimonial Aids for Young, Disabled or Vulnerable Witnesses

Testimonial Aids
Certain persons who testify are entitled to make application for the use of testimonial aids: Exclusion of Public (s. 486), Use of a Testimonial Screen (s. 486), Access to Support Person While Testifying (s. 486.1), Close Proximity Video-link Testimony (s. 486.2), Self-Represented Cross-Examination Prohibition Order (s. 486.3), and Witness Security Order (s. 486.7).

A witness, victim or complainant may also request publication bans (s. 486.4, 486.5) and/or a Witness Identity Non-disclosure Order (s. 486.31). See also, Publication Bans, above.

On Finding of Guilt
For any indictable offence with a maximum penalty no less than 5 years (including offences under s. 444, 445, 445.1 and 446), but are not serious personal injury offences, s. 606(4.2) requires that after accepting a guilty plea the judge must inquire whether "any of the victims had advised the prosecutor of their desire to be informed if such an agreement were entered into, and, if so, whether reasonable steps were taken to inform that victim of the agreement". Failing to take reasonable steps at guilty plea requires the prosecutor to "as soon as feasible, take reasonable steps to inform the victim of the agreement and the acceptance of the plea" (s. 606(4.3)).

Under s. 738, a judge must inquire from the Crown before sentencing whether "reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victims with an opportunity to indicate whether they are seeking restitution for their losses and damages".

Under s. 722(2), the judge must inquire "[a]s soon as feasible" before sentencing with the Crown "if reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victim with an opportunity to prepare" a victim impact statement. This will include any person "who has suffered, or is alleged to have suffered, physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss" as a result of the offence. Individuals representing a community impacted by the crime may file a statement under s. 722.2.

Sentencing Principles and Ranges

See also: Purpose and Principles of Sentencing, Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offender, and Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offence
For general principles and factors of violence and assault-based offences, see Violent and Assaultive Offences

Maximum Penalties

Offence(s) Crown
Election
Maximum Penalty
s. 444 [injuring cattle],
s. 445 [killing and harming animals], and
s. 445.1 [causing unnecessary suffering]
Summary Election $10,000 fine and/or 18 months jail
s. 446 [causing damage or injury] Summary Election $5,000 fine and/or 6 months jail
s. 444 [injuring cattle],
s. 445 [killing and harming animals],
s. 445.1 [causing unnecessary suffering] and
s. 446 [causing damage or injury]
Indictable Election 5 years custody
s. 445.01 [killing or injuring service animals]
From April 17, 2008
Indictable Election 5 years custody
s. 446 [causing damage or injury] Indictable Election 2 years custody

Offences under s. 444, 445.1 and 446 are hybrid. If prosecuted by indictment, the maximum penalty is 2 years incarceration under s. 446, 5 years incarceration under s. 444, 445, and 445.1. If prosecuted by summary conviction, the maximum penalty is $5,000 fine and/or 6 months jail under s. 446 or a $10,000 fine and/or 18 months jail under s. 444, 445, or 445.1.

Minimum Penalties

Offence(s) Crown
Election
Minimum Penalty
First Offence
Minimum Penalty
Subsequent Offence
s. 445.01 [killing or injuring animals, service animals] Indictable Election 6 months custody Same

Offences under s. 444, 445, 445.1, and 446 have no mandatory minimum penalties.

Available Dispositions

Offence(s) Crown
Election
Discharge
s. 730
Suspended
Sentence

s. 731(1)(a)
Stand-alone
Fine

s. 731(1)(b)
Custody
s. 718.3, 787
Custody and
Probation
s. 731(1)(b)
Custody and
Fine
s. 734
Conditional
Sentence
(CSO)
s. 742.1
s. 444, 445.1 and 446 any OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png

Consecutive Sentences
There are no statutory requirements that the sentences be consecutive.

Principles

Ranges

see also: Animal Cruelty (Sentencing Cases)

Ancillary Sentencing Orders

See also: Ancillary Orders

Offence-specific Orders

Order Conviction Description
DNA Orders s. 444, 445, 445.01, or 445.1
Animal Prohibition Orders (s. 447.1) s. 444, 445, 445.01, or 445.1
  • prevent ownership of animals and restitution

General Sentencing Orders

Order Conviction Description
Non-communication order while offender in custody (s. 743.21) any The judge has discretion to order that the offender be prohibited "from communicating...with any victim, witness or other person" while in custody except where the judge "considers [it] necessary" to communicate with them.
Restitution Orders (s. 738) any A discretionary Order is available for things such as the replacement value of the property; the pecuniary damages incurred from harm, expenses fleeing a domestic partner; or certain expenses arising from the commission of an offence under s.402.2 or 403.
Victim Fine Surcharge (s. 737) any A mandatory surcharge under s. 737 of 30% of any fine order imposed, $100 per summary conviction or $200 per indictable conviction. If offence occurs on or after October 23, 2013, the order is discretionary based on ability to pay and the minimum amounts are smaller (15%, $50, or $100).

General Forfeiture Orders

Forfeiture Conviction Description
Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime (s. 462.37(1) or (2.01)) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence under the Code or the CDSA in which property is "proceeds of crime" and offence was "committed in relation to that property", the property shall be forfeited to Her Majesty the Queen on application of the Crown.
Fine in Lieu of Forfeiture (s. 462.37(3)) any Where a Court is satisfied an order for the forfeiture of proceeds of crime under s. 462.37(!) or (2.01) can be made, but that property cannot be "made subject to an order", then the Court "may" order a fine in "an amount equal to the value of the property". Failure to pay the fine will result in a default judgement imposing a period of incarceration.
Forfeiture of Weapons or Firearms (s. 491) any Where there is finding of guilt for an offence where a "weapon, an imitation firearm, a prohibited device, any ammunition, any prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance was used in the commission of [the] offence and that thing has been seized and detained", or "that a person has committed an offence that involves, or the subject-matter of which is, a firearm, a cross-bow, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance has been seized and detained, that the item be an enumerated weapon or related item be connected to the offence", then there will be a mandatory forfeiture order. However, under s. 491(2), if the lawful owner "was not a party to the offence" and the judge has "no reasonable grounds to believe that the thing would or might be used in the commission of an offence", then it should be returned to the lawful owner.
Forfeiture of Offence-related Property (s. 490.1) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence, "any property is offence-related property" where (a) by means or in respect of which an indictable offence under this Act or the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act is committed, (b) that is used in any manner in connection with the commission of such an offence, or (c) that is intended to be used for committing such an offence". Such property is to be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of the province.

History

See also: List of Criminal Code Amendments

Offences against service animal under s. 445.01 were brought in on June 23, 2015 through the An Act to amend the Criminal Code (law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals), 2015, c. 34 (Bill C-35).

Prior to April 2008

Prior to April 17, 2008, the sections read:

Injuring or endangering cattle
444. Every one who wilfully

(a) kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures cattle, or
(b) places poison in such a position that it may easily be consumed by cattle,

is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 400.


CCC

Injuring or endangering other animals
445. Every one who wilfully and without lawful excuse

(a) kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures dogs, birds or animals that are not cattle and are kept for a lawful purpose, or
(b) places poison in such a position that it may easily be consumed by dogs, birds or animals that are not cattle and are kept for a lawful purpose,

is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 401.


CCC

Causing unnecessary suffering
446. (1) Every one commits an offence who

(a) wilfully causes or, being the owner, wilfully permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or a bird;
(b) by wilful neglect causes damage or injury to animals or birds while they are being driven or conveyed;
(c) being the owner or the person having the custody or control of a domestic animal or a bird or an animal or a bird wild by nature that is in captivity, abandons it in distress or wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care for it;
(d) in any manner encourages, aids or assists at the fighting or baiting of animals or birds;
(e) wilfully, without reasonable excuse, administers a poisonous or an injurious drug or substance to a domestic animal or bird or an animal or a bird wild by nature that is kept in captivity or, being the owner of such an animal or a bird, wilfully permits a poisonous or an injurious drug or substance to be administered to it;
(f) promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money for or takes part in any meeting, competition, exhibition, pastime, practice, display or event at or in the course of which captive birds are liberated by hand, trap, contrivance or any other means for the purpose of being shot when they are liberated; or
(g) being the owner, occupier or person in charge of any premises, permits the premises or any part thereof to be used for a purpose mentioned in paragraph (f).

Punishment
(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Failure to exercise reasonable care as evidence
(3) For the purposes of proceedings under paragraph (1)(a) or (b), evidence that a person failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of an animal or a bird thereby causing it pain, suffering, damage or injury is, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, proof that the pain, suffering, damage or injury was caused or was permitted to be caused wilfully or was caused by wilful neglect, as the case may be.
Presence at baiting as evidence
(4) For the purpose of proceedings under paragraph (1)(d), evidence that an accused was present at the fighting or baiting of animals or birds is, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, proof that he encouraged, aided or assisted at the fighting or baiting.
Order of prohibition
(5) Where an accused is convicted of an offence under subsection (1), the court may, in addition to any other sentence that may be imposed for the offence, make an order prohibiting the accused from owning or having the custody or control of an animal or a bird during any period not exceeding two years.
Breach of order
(6) Every one who owns or has the custody or control of an animal or a bird while he is prohibited from doing so by reason of an order made under subsection (5) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 402; 1974-75-76, c. 93, s. 35.


CCC

See Also

Related Offences

References