Maximum fine handed out in Calgary animal abuse case
Two men, the owner and the manager of a defunct northeast Calgary aquarium, have been slapped with big fines for charges in connection with the mistreatment of hundreds of animals.
Wayne Woo, 67, and Michael Chow, 68, were both found guilty as charged on four charges stemming from a 2015 investigation.
Woo was handed a $20,000 fine, the maximum fine allowed under the Animal Protection Act.
This is the first time that the maximum fine has ever been given as a sentence.
Chow was handed a $4,000 fine.
The Calgary Humane Society seized 333 animals from Riverfront Aquariums, located at 312 Meridian Road N.E. on December 2, 2015.
The seized animals consisted of 52 snakes, 42 lizards, 32 frogs and 12 turtles.
The Crown said that the animals were being held in horrific conditions, including filthy enclosures, algae growth, improper water supplies, improper temperatures, improper places to feed and virtually non-existent veterinary care.
The judge in the case said that the two men did not take adequate steps to make sure the animals were cared for properly and the sentence is meant to prevent this type of hoarding in the future.
Woo was also given a lifetime ban on owning any animals except for fish and his current family dog, provided that the animal receives proper medical care and provides proof to the Humane Society.
He is allowed to continue his employment at Concept Aquarium, provided that he only works with fish.
Chow was also given a 10 year prohibition of ownership of animals, outside of fish and one dog at home, under the same conditions as Woo.
Brad Nichols, the senior manager of Cruelty Investigations at the Calgary Humane Society, said that the punishment sends a clear message about the importance of such an incident.
"The pet stores in the community need to be seen as the experts that tell you how to properly take care of your animal. When their care falls off, it sends a message of a lack of education on how to take care of animals."
A number of the animals needed to be euthanized following the seizure, Nichols said. "A few needed to be euthanized right away and a few that failed to thrive needed to be euthanized afterwards."
He added that the maximum fine is also important in sending a message of deterrence.
"This is the first max penalty in Calgary and one of a very few in Alberta. Couple that with the message of pet stores and how they have to operate, it sends a message to the rest of the city that things need to be conducted properly and in accordance with animal care duties."
Riverfront Aquarium closed down shortly after the charges were laid.