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‘Substandard and criminal:’ Alberta woman sentenced to 90 days for animal abuse

DRUMHELLER, Alta. — A southern Alberta woman who abused her animals was sentenced Friday to 90 days in jail for what the judge called her “substandard and criminal behaviour.”

Catherine Adams, 25, was found guilty in February of animal cruelty and of wilfully causing pain, suffering or injury to an animal.

In 2015, RCMP seized nine malnourished horses, 25 dogs and 17 birds from a property in Hanna, northeast of Calgary, that Adams shared with her mother.

Judge Judith Shriar said in Drumheller provincial court that a written submission from Adams expressing remorse after the sentencing hearing had already taken place was too little and too late.

“It seems to be that Miss Adams finally realizes what she ought to have said to support her request for a lighter sentence. Unfortunately, the conflicting evidence regarding her insight and regret contained in the (pre-sentence report) … and in her oral submissions in August waters down somewhat the impact of her recent submissions.”

Shriar noted that in the pre-sentence report Adams had said a number of times that she didn’t believe what she did was wrong, and didn’t regret or take responsibility for her actions. She did admit to being sorry if she caused the animals any distress.

“That is not exactly a full-throated acknowledgment that she caused suffering and distress to those animals by her substandard and criminal behaviour,” Shriar said.

“It is hard for me to take Miss Adams’s recent submissions as wholly sincere.”

Shriar said a previous conviction involving Adams and her mother in British Columbia on similar charges indicates a pattern of ongoing behaviour.

Adams was sentenced to six months of house arrest after officials seized severely malnourished horses, dogs, birds, cats and fish from a property near Houston, B.C., in 2014.

“It is aggravating that her behaviour was ongoing and deliberate — not a one-time impulsive action — and impacted the well-being of numerous, vulnerable, living beings,” said Shriar.

The judge also sentenced Adams to two years of probation and banned her from owning animals anywhere in Canada for the next 17 years.

Adams, who appeared for sentencing without a lawyer, told court she accepted the sentence.

Abigail Gosselin from Red Deer, Alta., was in court to watch the decision. She had sent three of her dogs to Adams thinking they were going to a good home.

She said she is angry that she was misled and was only able to get one of the three back after the RCMP raid.

“She appeared nice. Apparently she had cows and a really nice farm,” said Gosselin, who was hoping for a more severe sentence.

“They’re criminals of the lowest kind. To go and hurt any innocent, vulnerable animal is the same thing as kidnapping a kid and hurting it.”