Arabian horse. (Pixabay image)

Shuswap woman found not guilty of animal cruelty charges

Supreme court justice finds Salmon Arm resident did not wilfully harm horses

A Supreme Court justice found that a Salmon Arm woman had shortcomings regarding the care of her horses, but she did not neglect them wilfully.

Described in court documents as “an experienced and fiercely independent horsewoman,” Charlene Robinson was found not guilty of two counts in connection with animal cruelty in BC Supreme Court in Kamloops on Oct. 24. The charges resulted from complaints to and interactions with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in December 2013.

Robinson had 20 Arabian horses and one pig in her care on her rural property in Salmon Arm at this time.

With input from a veterinarian, the SPCA had concluded that all Robinson’s animals were in distress due to inadequate water, feed, shelter and care, and had seized three of her mares and two stallions.

Justice Marchand ruled Crown counsel had not met the onus of establishing Robinson wilfully caused her animals unnecessary pain, suffering or injury.

Related: Women faces animal cruelty charges

Regarding Count 1, the judge’s findings were: “Ms. Robinson exercised poor judgment, her efforts fell short and she put her animals in jeopardy. Her conduct, however, did not reach the required level of recklessness.”

Regarding his findings for Count 2, he stated: “For the reasons I have already given, I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Robinson’s shortcoming were wilful. She did not intentionally harm her animals but she did exercise poor judgment. For example, it was careless of her not to prepare for a sudden turn in the weather. While Ms. Robinson’s conduct was concerning and problematic, she did not cross the line into recklessness.”

In her defence, Robinson had stated her herd had experienced an overall loss of body condition in early December 2013 due to an unexpected cold snap that caught her off guard.

“It had been a warm fall and Ms. Robinson acknowledged that she should have transitioned her horses off her pasture earlier,” states a court document.

She had also stated all of her horses had adequate shelter; she said she personally took care of her horses’ needs including dental care, farrier work and deworming; and she testified that she observed her animals several times per day and never observed any in a state of pain.

Court documents state: “She says that a number of factors beyond her control caused a decline in the condition of her animals and that she was doing everything in her power to meet their needs at the time of the seizures.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

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