Ottawa man gets 2 years in jail for beating Breezy the dog

An Ottawa man was sentenced to two years in jail minus time served for beating Breezy the dog with a shovel and leaving the animal in a dumpster.

Stephen Helfer's actions were 'deplorable, barbaric and cruel,' judge rules

Breezy suffered life-threatening injuries in an Oct. 16 attack outside an Ottawa home. (Submitted by the Ottawa Humane Society)

An Ottawa man was sentenced to two years in jail for a "senseless attack" on his dog Breezy, a judge ruled Thursday.

Stephen Helfer, 24, "terrorized" his mother and victimized his neighbours in Manor Park when he beat Breezy with a shovel and left her in a dumpster in October, Justice Ann Alder ruled.
Stephen Helfer pleaded guilty to maiming an animal.

"His actions towards Breezy are deplorable, barbaric and cruel," she said in her decision. "It is difficult to imagine how a person could repeatedly hit a defenceless dog — their own pet — despite its cries, and then callously dump it in a dumpster."

Helfer was given 1.5 credit for his eight months of pre-trial custody, leaving a remaining sentence of 361 days, Alder said. He was also prohibited from owning animals for 25 years. 

Helfer was sentenced to an additional four months in jail for a breaking-and-entering charge. His jail time will be followed by three years of probation. 

Helfer pleaded guilty to maiming an animal in December.

'Behaviour must be denounced,' judge says

Alder said in her decision that past sentences for animal abuse have ranged from 30 days to nine months in jail, though the maximum sentence is five years and a lifetime ban from owning animals.

The Crown had asked for a sentence of four years. The defence argued Helfer did not have a history of animal abuse and asked for nine months in jail. 

Alder ruled that Helfer's guilty plea and expression of remorse were mitigating factors in his sentencing.

"He is a young man who has faced many obstacles and challenges in his life. It has not been easy and he had been marginalized," she said.

But she emphasized that his "behaviour must be denounced" and ruled that a longer sentence than the typical range was necessary.

"Those who inflict pain on animals, those who are deliberately brutal toward animals will face harsher sentences than in the past, as our society considers this behaviour morally reprehensible," she said.

The executive director of the Ottawa Humane Society said in a news release that the long sentence brings closure to an ugly case of animal cruelty.

“This sentence is the longest we’ve ever seen in Ottawa and perhaps Canada for animal cruelty,” said Bruce Roney. "Everyone who cares about animals and animal welfare can have some satisfaction today.”