Teddy trial a failure of justice

The system fails to treat such cruelty as anything more than a misstep

Teddy trial a failure of justice

Re: Sentencing in death of Teddy

In February 2018, the SPCA attended a property in Duncan and found what they described as one of the most shocking cases of animal abuse in the 125 year history of the Society. Teddy, a medium sized dog, was tied on a rope which was only a few inches long and embedded into his neck, causing a massive infection. He was severely emaciated. It required bolt cutters to free him. He died two days later.

Teddy’s owners were Native and public outrage over the incident prompted the local First Nations’ chief and politicians to condemn what they described as racist backlash, urging the public to “let the court do its job”.

In November 2019, one year and nine months after Teddy’s death, the court and Crown counsel did their jobs. Anderson Joe and Melissa Tooshley both received suspended sentences and a lifetime ban on owning animals. Given the fact that Criminal Code provisions make cruelty to animals punishable by up to five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $10,000 and that the SPCA described this as one of the worst cases of abuse ever perpetrated, the sentence which was recommended by Crown counsel and imposed by the court could only be described as laughable. If only this were a laughing matter.

The question for those of us who care about the rights and welfare of animals is, where do we go from here? We are reassured that animal abuse will be taken seriously. We are reassured that it is a criminal offence with serious penalties to punish and deter such conduct. We are asked to harness our outrage and allow the judicial system to do its work. And then again, and again, and again, the system fails to treat such cruelty as anything more than a misstep, an oversight, a minor infraction barely worth the time and effort it took to prosecute it. Make no mistake about it, the Teddy saga is a complete and utter failure of justice.

I don’t know the answer to the question, “where we go from here”. But I now know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, what isn’t the answer.

Sharon Speevak

Nanaimo

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