A disturbing case in which a dog and cat were found dead in a Calgary alley with their mouths taped shut should be seen a cautionary tale about the dangers faced by animals on the internet, a humane society official says.

Nicolino Ivano Camardi,19, has been charged with two counts of wilfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal in connection with the January incident.

He appeared in a Calgary courtroom Wednesday, and his bail hearing has been set for Monday. Camardi also has an appointment with a psychiatrist Friday to help advise the court whether a longer mental-health assessment is needed.

"The whole thing is tragic," said Camardi's lawyer Peter Ward.

Officials say the animals were obtained through Kijiji online classifieds a few months before their death.

Rescued puppies

Calgary Humane Society cruelty investigations manager Brad Nichols says animal abusers can hide behind the anonymity afforded by the internet. (CBC)

Brad Nichols, cruelty investigations manager with the Calgary Humane Society, says the website isn't under investigation but cases like this point to the risks faced by animals when traded online.

"There's people online that can hide behind that anonymity and say all sorts of things and ultimately in this instance exploit animals one way or another,” he said.

"We're at the point now where there's a lot of animals online and for some people that's the primary source they go to for animals, rather than going to shelters and rescues,” he said.

Advertisement sites like Kijiji have faced recent criticism from animal welfare activists who claim they can be used by unscrupulous pet brokers.

But Calgary Crown prosecutor Gordon Haight, who specializes in animal abuse cases, says there is no evidence of a pattern so far.

"I don't see much of a trend in terms of online sourcing of animals and then subsequently neglecting them or inflicting acts of cruelty on them,” he said.

Kijiji says it has been working with animal welfare agencies to come up with education initiatives, a code of conduct where pets are concerned, and a new fee for pet sellers as a way to prevent, detect and discourage illegal pet vendors.

Nichols says while Kijiji has evolved to make its site safer for animals, people still need to use common sense when looking anywhere online.

"Gone are the days where you're going to someone's house based on an ad or a flyer in the neighbourhood, seeing where an animal came from, seeing the family that it grew up with,” he said.