Judge says she's too emotional and postpones sentencing for repeat animal abuser

Convicted animal abuser Catherine Adams' sentencing was postponed Wednesday, after the judge said she was too emotional to sentence someone who showed an "astonishing lack of reasoning ability" and was "not taking this process seriously."

Catherine Adams' sentencing has been postponed to November

Catherine Adams, left, was convicted of animal cruelty in February after dozens of malnourished horses, dogs and birds were discovered on her property in central Alberta in 2015. (Facebook/BC SPCA)

Convicted animal abuser Catherine Adams' sentencing was postponed Wednesday afternoon, after the judge said she was too emotional to sentence someone who showed an "astonishing lack of reasoning ability" and was "not taking this process seriously."

Adams was found guilty in February of charges of willfully causing pain, suffering or injury to an animal, and animal cruelty.

Nine malnourished horses, 25 dogs and 17 birds were seized from her and her mother Karin's property in Hanna, northeast of Calgary, in 2015. 

Charges against her mother were dismissed.

The Crown's submission for sentencing had pushed for jail time and a lifetime ban on owning animals, arguing that Adams' previous animal abuse convictions and lack of remorse were aggravating factors.

But Adams made the case that she should receive only community service, a suggestion Judge Judith Shriar scoffed at.

"This is not a situation where you get a discharge," Shriar said in Hanna provincial court.

Banned from owning animals

Catherine and her mother were first convicted in 2014 and banned from owning animals for 20 years after officials seized 18 horses, 18 dogs, 15 birds, two cats and 104 fish from a property near Houston, B.C.

The horses were so malnourished, they were eating wood in an attempt to survive, while the dogs had matted fur, dental issues and lacerations. 

They were ordered to pay $5,500 in restitution to the B.C. SPCA. Catherine was sentenced to six months conditional house arrest and three years probation, and Karin was sentenced to 15 days in jail.

On July 17, RCMP arrested Karin and rescued eight dogs from her motel room in Innisfail, Alta. Mounties said they had responded to reports that a woman was posing as a law enforcement officer and was trying to take a dog from its owner.

Catherine Adams leaves Hanna provincial court in August. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC)

Less than two weeks earlier, on July 4, SPCA officers in B.C. had seized 16 dogs in distress that Catherine and Karin were keeping on a property in Quesnel.

The dogs were being kept in crates too small for their size in a poorly ventilated area, with little or no access to water and with feces and urine-soaked matting, the SPCA said.

'I'm being sent death threats,' says Adams

On Wednesday, Adams claimed that the publicity from the cases she has been involved in was something that needed to be taken into consideration during sentencing.

"I'm being stalked, I'm being harassed, I'm being sent death threats," she said.

She said that after Karin was arrested in Innisfail, one news outlet published her photo instead of her mother's.

"Media attention from this will haunt me and hinder me probably for the rest of my life."

An animal cruelty legislation activist said she was pleasantly surprised to hear the judge say she was too emotional to sentence Adams.

"I think it's really, this is the first time I've ever heard of a judge saying she was too emotional to sentence someone, and in my opinion, it's great when you actually get judges who care and have compassion and show some concern for the animals," said Charlene Myers, the founder of Animal Cruelty Legislation Advocates Canada.

Myers said she hopes Adams will be banned for life from owning animals.

"Hopefully with this case the fact that she has a past will lead to a harsher sentence than what she received in the case in B.C.," she said.

Adams will be sentenced in Drumheller provincial court on Nov. 2. 

With files from Lucie Edwardson.