Two Victoria men have been convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and failing to provide it sufficient care before hanging the horse from an excavating machine.

In what the B.C. SPCA calls a shocking case of animal abuse, 27-year-old Jalupae, an Appaloosa horse, was found starved and hanging on a Brentwood Bay property, east of Victoria, in 2009.

Provincial court Judge Sue Wishart ruled David Whiffin and Clayton Cunningham were guilty of not providing enough food or proper veterinary care to the horse during its life.

However, the men were not found guilty of killing the animal. The court ruled there was not enough evidence to prove the horse suffered before its death.

'Horrific animal cruelty'

B.C. SPCA spokesperson Marcie Moriarty said the case points to a loophole that makes it difficult to convict suspects for killing an animal.

"It is ludicrous that, in this country, someone who intentionally kills an animal by hanging them from a backhoe cannot be convicted under our Criminal Code," she said

"We deal with horrific animal cruelty every day in our work, but this case was particularly heinous."

Moriarty said the case proves tougher legislation is required.

"It is disturbing enough that these individuals allowed Jalupae to starve to the point of emaciation, but any reasonable person would have called a veterinarian to the property if they planned to euthanize the animal," she said. "They certainly had other options than hanging that poor animal to death."

Whiffin and Cunningham face a maximum fine of $10,000, up to 18 months in jail and a prohibition on owning animals.

A date has not been set for sentencing.