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Friday, May 11, 2007
Case Images: 2 files available
Defendant/Suspect: Rony Salman
Case Updates: 4 update(s) available
A puppy was found in a Windsor complex last week and the discovery has raised new questions about animal cruelty laws. The six-month-old German Shepherd Rottweiler mix named AK is now in the custody of the Ontario SPCA. The explanation for the crime is as disturbing as the act itself: authorities were allegedly told it was done to make the animal look more menacing.
That disgusts Toronto Humane Society cruelty investigator Tre Smith, who's seen it all too often. "I think it's a disgusting display of animal cruelty. I mean it's unnecessary, causes unnecessary pain and suffering on this animal." The federal penalties for inflicting that kind of pain include six months in jail and/or a $2,000 fine and a two-year prohibition on owning another animal. But Parliament is pondering a change that would increase the fines to an unlimited range and put a potential lifetime ban on owning animals.
The incidents have also led to renewed calls for tougher animal cruelty penalties in Ontario, which critics complain has a lax policy when it comes to protecting the four legged members of our society. The province is mulling over a review of the current statues with an eye to toughening them up. Penalties now range from a few months behind bars to a $60,000 fine. "Unfortunately animals are considered property under the Act," complains Smith. "They're not considered an entity or a live being, which definitely needs to be changed."
Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter agrees something needs to be done. "We don't have any laws at the provincial level to deal with cruelty to animals by owners. That's covered under the Criminal Code of Canada, and there are penalties that are there, and at the present time that law is being revisited."
That's not enough for Smith. "We don't want these people to have animals any more," he concludes. "We don't want them just to go to jail for six months and when they come out, get another animal. We want them to not ever own another animal for the lifetime they are on this earth."
|The former owner of A.K., the dog found a year ago with its ears severed, was sentenced to three months in jail Monday after pleading guilty to three counts of animal cruelty.|
But Ontario Court Justice Guy DeMarco gave Rony Salman two-for-one credit -- two days for every one served so far -- because he has been in the county jail for more than 45 days awaiting trial.
That means he is eligible for release on the charges today.
Salman stood expressionless in the prisoner's dock and responded "guilty" to three charges: Wilfully causing pain to an animal; causing unnecessary pain to a dog by not seeking veterinary attention; and failure to provide care for -- and wilful neglect of -- a domestic animal.
When asked by the judge if there was anything he would like to say before sentencing, Salman replied: "No, no."
In passing sentence, DeMarco said it was understandable Salman would have nothing to say because nothing could explain away his actions.
"What you did to a poor, defenceless dog was an act of extreme and brutal cruelty," said DeMarco, who was presented with photographs of the six-month-old mixed-breed puppy, taken shortly after he was seized from Salman's Sandwich Street apartment on May 11, 2007. "I'm horrified."
Salman was also placed on probation and will be unable to have control of an animal for two years, the maximum prohibition under the law.
In addition, he must pay $587.50 in restitution to the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society to cover the costs of the dog's care and treatment.
Assistant Crown attorney Brian Manarin said that part of the probation should include counselling and psychological testing "to find out what may lurk in the recesses of Salman's mind," since many forms of psychopathology have been linked to harming animals.
While calling the crime "horrible" DeMarco said the maximum sentence of six months in jail must be reserved for the absolute worst cases of animal cruelty and since A.K., since renamed Kasen and adopted out through the animal shelter to loving owners, is now doing well, that cannot be said in this instance.
However, DeMarco added, he felt his hands were tied by the Criminal Code's maximum two-year ban on owning animals.
If he was able to make the ban longer, "I would make such an order, I assure you."
Salman's lawyer, Brian Dube, acknowledged there was no justification for his client's behaviour and there is no excuse that can be made to address the public outrage over the case. The only mitigating factors he could cite were that the dog has recovered, his client pleaded guilty and he had no previous similar offences on his record.
When asked outside court if his client had ever shown any remorse over the incident Dube replied: "He understands he did something wrong."
Nancy McCabe, field operations manager for the humane society, attended the proceedings.
She said she was pleased Salman "had the intelligence to plead guilty" given the strength of the case.
But she said the SPCA will push for changes to the Criminal Code for longer sentences and longer animal ownership prohibitions.
"I have been doing this for 26 years in August," she said. "And it was pretty close to the worst case I've seen.... The legislation, the way it is now, isn't much of a deterrent."
She called for a lifetime ban on pet ownership for those who abuse.
She said the dog "has become our poster boy" for the SPCA's campaign against animal cruelty.
"I think the public outcry was amazing. It was extremely important to us."
The facts of the case, read into the court record, showed that Windsor police attended Salman's building after neighbours complained about an injured dog on an apartment balcony. An animal control officer arrived on the scene first and saw a whimpering German shepherd-Rottweiler mix that appeared in pain.
Officers knocked on the door but there was no answer.
Because the animal was in distress, they were able to enter the dwelling without a warrant. A woman who identified herself as Salman's girlfriend was asked if the officers could take the injured dog for treatment.
She called Salman, who replied he was too busy helping a friend move to return to the apartment.
The dog was taken and an examination revealed its ears had been cropped extremely close to the head, the wounds were bleeding and there was severe swelling.
The dog was in extreme discomfort and was constantly shaking its head. It could not be determined what kind of device had been used.
McCabe described the wounds as "jagged and bleeding."
Salman is also facing trial on break and enter charges stemming from his arrest in connection with a spate of break-ins in South Windsor last winter.
Upon those arrests his bail on the animal cruelty charges was revoked.
|Source: The Windsor Star - May 27, 2008|
Update posted on May 28, 2008 - 3:19PM
|The owner of AK, the puppy who grabbed national headlines after his ears were cut off by his owner in an alleged attempt to make the dog look "more menacing," faces animal cruelty charges following the results of an investigation conducted by the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society.|
Rony Salman, 29, of Windsor, has been charged under the Criminal Code of Canada with seven counts including wilfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering, and injury by severing the dog's ears; wilfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering and injury by failing to provide veterinary medical attention; and wilfully neglecting or failing to provide suitable and adequate care for a dog.
The Ontario SPCA investigation began on May 11, 2007 when the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society received an anonymous call saying that a dog was in distress at a Windsor apartment building. Ontario SPCA investigators attended the property and found AK, a six-month-old German shepherd-Rottweiler mix, whimpering on an apartment balcony with his ears cut off. The puppy was bleeding, shaking his head and pawing his ears.
The owner was not home and the dog was seized by the Ontario SPCA to receive immediate veterinary care. The owner later surrendered the dog to the Ontario SPCA. Shockingly, a loop-hole in Ontario law would have allowed the owner to get his dog back during the investigation had he not surrendered it.
AK, despite his traumatizing ordeal, has maintained a happy and loving demeanor. He suffered no internal damage to his ears, and his wounds have since healed. Shelter staff have received many adoption applications and are in the process of selecting AK's adoptive family.
If convicted of any of the seven Criminal Code charges laid, the court has the ability to sentence Salman to six months in jail, and/or a $2,000 fine. In addition, the Criminal Code allows the court to prohibit animal cruelty offenders from having custody of an animal for a period of two years. If this offence had occurred in any province other than Ontario, provincial animal cruelty legislation would have allowed for up to a lifetime ban on owning an animal and for investigators to lay charges sooner. In addition, some provinces, such as Alberta, have higher fines of up to $20,000.
Rony Salman is scheduled to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice, Windsor on August 23, 2007.
|Source: OSPCA Press Release - June 7, 2007|
Update posted on Jun 7, 2007 - 4:05PM
|A puppy which had its ears sliced off, apparently to make it look more menacing, is expected to make a full recovery. |
The Windsor humane society has been caring for the 6-month old shepherd-rottweiler mix since it was found on a balcony, bleeding and in pain.
Agent Amy Nardella said the dog won't suffer any lasting effects, but could be more prone to ear infections since his ears won't be covered.
Once the puppy is fully healed, in about a week, he will likely be put up for adoption - and he won't lack for a home. Nardella said the phone has been ringing off the hook from people who want to adopt the dog.
In the meantime, an investigation continues to determine who abused the dog. Charges will likely follow, she said.
|Source: The Toronto Sun - May 16, 2007|
Update posted on May 17, 2007 - 1:26PM