*WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT* Calgary couple sentenced in Erin Woods animal abuse case
Two people who were charged with 92 offences in the largest animal seizure in Calgary history were fined and sentenced on Thursday.
Anthony and Christine Berry were charged with causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal and failing to provide suitable and adequate care to an animal after humane society officials seized almost 100 animals from an Erin Woods home in August 2014.
The humane society was alerted to the home by a member of the public and seized 69 rabbits, 21 hamsters, one cat and one dog, that were in distress due to unsanitary conditions, untreated medical concerns and a lack of basic necessities.
“The accused had taken a rabbit to a rabbit show, which was in poor condition, which was then reported by someone at the show. We became involved at that point having no idea that this was going to be a hoarding type situation,” said Brad Nichols, Senior Manager Animal Cruelty Investigations. “Public complaints are our bread and butter so that’s where we’re hearing about the majority of our cases that we’re dealing with but from shows themselves, usually it’s a pretty tight-knit community and there’s not a lot of deviation there so that is fairly rare.”
A number of the animals were euthanized because they were in such poor condition.
“About a quarter of the population had to be euthanized on intake and upon examine. They were suffering from various illnesses, some of them specific to rabbits, but eye and ear infections, emaciation, all kinds of problems, they just weren’t being cared for adequately,” said Nichols. “There wasn’t a surface in this house that wasn’t covered by either an animal cage or the effects of an animal.”
A peace officer was also assaulted and threatened during the seizure.
"There were a few red flags for us as far as officer safety so we did take a CPS member with us to the residence, which turned out to be a good idea because he did assault peace officers during the seizure," said Nichols.
Anthony Berry was remanded for several months before pleading guilty to the assault on a peace officer and uttering threats in connection to the seizure.
On Thursday, the Berrys were fined $6,900 each and handed a lifetime prohibition from owning or residing with animals with the exception of one spayed or neutered cat or dog.
“We’re satisfied with the outcome, it’s a financial penalty on the higher end, the $6000 plus the victim fine surcharge to each of the accused so essentially almost $12000 in fines and then the lifetime prohibition from owning animals, that’s encouraging as well, it dictates that this situation will not reoccur,” said Nichols.