Puppy brokers' cruelty appeal rejected

Two Nova Scotia puppy brokers convicted of animal cruelty have lost their appeal.

Two Nova Scotia puppy brokers convicted of animal cruelty have lost their appeal.

A judge dismissed the appeals by Gail Benoit and Dana Bailey on Thursday, saying there was no doubt the pair mistreated dogs.

Benoit and Bailey were convicted of animal cruelty last year and fined $1,500 each. Benoit was also jailed for 21 days for assaulting an SPCA special constable who came to search their Digby County property.

The case against the pair began with a complaint that sick puppies were being sold in a parking lot in the Truro area. The SPCA investigated and seized 10 puppies from the couple's home in the fall of 2007.

The animals were weak, their bellies were swollen and they were living in a filthy area, the court heard during the trial. A veterinarian gave evidence that the animals had received improper care. 

"The distressed state of the puppies was not a sudden occurrence. It developed over time. Even if the appellants’ control of the puppies had been brief — a matter of days — there was ample time and opportunity to relieve their then obvious distress, or to begin doing so," Justice Peter Bryson wrote in his decision.

The court also heard that Benoit threw a puppy at the officer, stepped on her foot and bumped shoulders with her.

Benoit and Bailey wanted the convictions thrown out. They argued that the puppies weren't in distress and claimed the first warrant was issued based on evidence from a witness who held a personal grudge against them.

Bryson dismissed that argument, just like the first judge. He said the trial judge made no legal or factual errors.

As for the assault conviction, Bryson rejected Benoit's claim that she only slammed a door in the face of the constable to keep the dogs in and that the jostling was accidental.

That characterization lacked "any air of reality," Bryson wrote.

Benoit and Bailey are due to return to court in May to face more cruelty charges. They're accused of selling four puppies that died of parvovirus within days of leaving their care.