Jason Remai

Jason Remai was sentenced on Wednesday under the provincial Animal Protection Act. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

A Lunenburg man has been fined $5,000 and is prohibited from owning animals for 10 years after his Portuguese water dog died when he left it inside his car in Wolfville during a hot day last summer.

Jason Remai was found guilty earlier this month of a charge under the provincial Animal Protection Act of failing to provide an animal with reasonable protection from injurious heat.

Remai represented himself Wednesday before Judge Claudine MacDonald in Kentville provincial court.

Before sentencing, he told the court he loved his dog and always wanted the best for him.

Remai said he got the dog, named Jackie, when he was a puppy and went so far as to look for a vet who would avoid using drugs and vaccinations. He said he was stressed the day his dog died — for a number of reasons — and said sometimes bad things happen.

Remai told the court he's not good at multitasking and was distracted that day.

He said he had walked the dog three times before locking Jackie in the car. A person Remai was talking to questioned him about why he'd left his dog in the car and was shocked that he'd done so, but he subsequently forgot about it.

MacDonald told Remai he was making excuses for the dog's death and said he was not taking responsibility for it.

Remai asked the judge if he could serve community service instead of paying a fine, saying he enjoys caregiving and would like to work with kennels, the SPCA and seniors. 

The judge said that was not an option.

'Monumental' sentence

Remai has until the end of 2015 to pay the fine or he faces 90 days in jail.

Scott Saunders, a spokesman with the animal advocacy group People for Dogs, called the sentence "monumental."

He said nothing will bring the dog back but this sentence sends a strong message. Saunders noted it took years for the province to issue a similar prohibition for Gail Benoit.

"There's a lot of dead dogs that go back there," he said.

"There's no excuse for animal abuse and there's no excuse for what he did and I think the judge did a fair job."

During Remai's trial, the court heard from a number of witnesses including John Cummings, who testified that he used a hammer to break Remai's car window after the distressed dog was discovered inside the locked vehicle with the windows tightly closed.

Cummings said when they removed the dog, it was hot to touch. He said it was like the animal had just come out of a sauna.

A meteorologist said the temperature that day was between 22 C and 23 C in Kentville with humidity around 50 per cent.