Constitutional arguments in a McNutt animal cruelty case have been postponed until March 8.
Murray Andres stands accused of neglect under the Criminal Code of Canada and causing, or permitting animals to be in distress under the Saskatchewan Animal Protection Act (APA).
Friday’s voir dire hearing was scheduled for the Crown, represented by Andrew Wyatt, to introduce evidence pertaining to a defence challenge that search and seizure costs levied on Andres were unreasonable and unconstitutional and for the judge to rule on the constitutionality of that and two other Charter of Rights and Freedoms issues.
The defence, represented by Saskatoon criminal defence lawyer Dwayne Braun, is also challenging the sufficiency of a Saskatchewan Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) search warrant and the ambiguity of the APA’s definition of distress.
Kaley Pugh, SPCA manager of animal protective services, testified at length to the conditions she observed at the farm when 31 dogs were seized on May 30, 2011; the SPCA’s procedures in determining actions; the specific events of the 72-hour period of and following the seizure to which the costs applied and; a detailed accounting of the specific costs.
Pugh testified that on May 26, 2011, Andres had been given four days to complete numerous tasks including providing clean water, decent food, medical attention and adequate shelter for the dogs, as well as several other tasks related to the defendant’s cattle and horses.
She told the Court that following the seizure, Andres had 72 hours to pay the costs, a total of $13,504, in order to get his dogs back. She said he had not paid or even made an attempt to contact the SPCA so the animals were surrendered to the Saskatoon SPCA shelter for adoption.
Braun aggressively challenged Pugh on whether four days was reasonable notice to comply with the order and whether the order had been explained to Andres. She said the order had been posted at the farm, but she didn’t know whether Lloyd Howden, the lead animal protection officer, had spoken directly to Andres.
She said Andres had been given several opportunities to rectify deficiencies, but Braun interrupted saying he hadn’t asked her about that.
She said she felt that the timeline was “doable” or that Andres could have at least started.
“How do you know he didn’t,” Braun shot back.
Wyatt objected to the line of questioning saying that they were questions for other witnesses and asked Judge Darin Chow to instruct the defence to restrict his cross-examination to areas that Pugh had personal knowledge.
Oral arguments on the constitutional challenges were to follow, but Chow questioned the attorneys as to whether they would prefer to submit written arguments. Braun said he could have his before the Crown by February 1. Chow gave the Crown until February 15 to review and answer and gave himself until March 8 to review and rule.