Charges Filed in Canada Horse Abandonment Case

An Edmonton, Alberta, lawyer has been charged with three counts of animal cruelty after abandoning his two horses in the British Columbia wilderness last year.

On the recommendation of the British Columbia (B.C.) SPCA, Frank Mackay was charged with two counts under the Criminal Code of Canada and one count under the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Just before Christmas, volunteers from McBride, B.C., dug a half mile long path through six feet of snow to rescue a 14-year-old gelding and a 3-year-old mare that had become trapped by the tough terrain in the mountains. Mackay had abandoned the horses during a pack trip, after they could not make it back to the road.

The horses, which were suffering from malnutrition, frostbite, and rain scald, have recovered and are now in permanent adoptive homes, according to Lori Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the B.C. SPCA. (Read more.)  

If convicted, Mackay could face a maximum fine of $10,000, up to five years in jail, and a lifetime prohibition on owning animals. Chortyk said charges were brought under both the Criminal Code and the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act because under the Criminal Code, the Crown (Prosecution Service) has to prove there was intent to cause distress on the part of the offender.

However, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the Crown only has to prove that the neglect caused distress for the animals. "That's why for a lot of our cases we recommend charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act," she said.

Mackay will appear in court on June 12 in McBride.

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Liz Brown

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