Frank Mackay Pleads Guilty, Pays a Fine, Apologizes to McBride

The Edmonton lawyer who left three horses to die in the British Columbia wilderness near McBride in the weeks before Christmas last year, pled guilty recently to a charge of animal cruelty.  According to a December 6, 2009, story in the Edmonton Journal

Mackay pleaded guilty in McBride provincial court Friday to causing or permitting an animal to be in distress under the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

He was fined a total of $1,150 and ordered to pay $5,910 restitution to the B.C. SPCA, Birgit Stutz, a freelance journalist and horse trainer who attended the hearing, said Saturday.

Two criminal charges were stayed.

Mackay is also prohibited from owning any animals in British Columbia for two years, and was ordered to pay for an advertisement to run in a McBride publication, to read in part

“I wish to thank the rescuers who volunteered their time and effort to rescue the horses. … If it hadn’t been for the accident, I would have gladly participated in the rescue.”

One of the criminal charges that was stayed had been brought under a new provision of the Canadian criminal code that was changed in recent years to allow indictment for animal cruelty.

The commentary that accompanied the proposed change in Canadian criminal law is compelling.

One of the reasons for the department’s action was “mounting scientific evidence of a link between animal abuse and domestic violence and violence against people generally.”

This modification is more than merely cosmetic since it would change the way the Criminal Code regards animals in that the cruelty to animals offences would no longer be treated, in large part, as property crimes. In fact, one of the premises of this proposed legislation “is that all animals feel pain and are deserving of legal protection from negligence or intentional cruelty.” Thus, animals would no longer be regarded essentially as property but rather as beings that feel pain.

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