B.C. SPCA applauds ruling

The B.C. SPCA is applauding a decision by a North Okanagan judge to uphold one of the stiffest sentences handed down to a convicted animal abuser.

"We are pleased with it. We feel the sentence was absolutely appropriate and we are glad that the appeal was unsuccessful," said Marcie Moriarty, B.C. SPCA chief prevention and enforcement officer. 

Gary Roberts was found guilty of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal and failing to provide necessities of life for an animal. 

A B.C. SPCA investigation in 2014 found dozens of horses on Roberts' property near Armstrong in different stages of distress, some were severely malnourished and near death.  

Roberts believed the investigation violated his charter rights and was appealing the sentence that was handed down — four-month house arrest, a nine-month conditional sentence and a 20-year ban on owning any animals. 

"The animals met the definition of distress under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act," said Moriarty. "The B.C. SPCA obtained a warrant through the proper judicial channels that permitted us to attend on the property, determine that the animals did still meet that definition of distress and take steps necessary to relieve that distress."

"We stand by the actions we took in this case," said Moriarty. 

During the investigation and trial, it was learned that several of the horses seized were in dire need of food and medical attention and that Roberts did nothing to alleviate their suffering. 

Roberts even said during the trial that he knew the animals in his care needed help and he was doing the best he could to look after them.

The trial judge stated that during the trial "Mr. Roberts presented as an angry man. In cross-examination, he resorted to profanities until cautioned. He gratuitously disparaged the B.C. SPCA and largely blamed them for his difficulties."

"This was a difficult case,' said Moriarty. "We hope Mr. Roberts does not get any more horses."

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