“I would hardly call this a stiff sentence, but it’s a start if jail hasn’t been given before...the maximum sentence for animal cruelty is now set at five years…yet this heinous crime only warranted six months prison for Laberge? My god, I dread to think what one has to do to warrant the maximum five years; if these dogs had died from their wounds I doubt it would have been five years. Surely this heartless monster deserved, at the very minimum, one year in jail, along with a life long ban on owning any animals.
MONTREAL—Last August, Geoffrey Laberge’s neighbours heard the sounds of dogs being beaten and abused.
When police arrived at the corner of Pie-IX and 55th Avenue in 2011, they found one of Laberge’s dogs covered in blood. The three-year-old pug had been stabbed multiple times, beaten with a lead pipe and shards of ceramic were poking through her fur.
Laberge, 37, will now spend six months in jail after he pleaded guilty to five counts of animal cruelty. Both the defence and crown recommended a sentence that also forbids him from owning an animal for the next quarter century.
“Up until Friday there really was no deterrent effect,” said Alanna Devine, the SPCA’s director of animal advocacy. “Even in egregious cases of animal cruelty when people were found guilty and being sentenced, they weren’t getting jail time.”
Both dogs have since made a full recovery and have been adopted by new homes. The story of Roo, the abused pug, stood out for Devine.
“It’s difficult for us to not get emotional,” said Devine, who was present when the dog was brought to the SPCA. “One of the dogs was in such a critical state that we felt she needed emergency treatment.”
Roo was rushed to an animal hospital in Notre-Dame-de-Grace where veterinarians were not sure if the dog would survive the night. Devine credited the cooperation of the Montreal police, SPCA and first responders for helping save the dog.
After an amendment to the criminal code in 2008, the maximum sentence for animal cruelty is now set at five years. Devine would like to see the maximum sentence imposed in more egregious cases.
Quebec has had a spotty past prosecuting animal cruelty, with a US-based animal rights group ranking the province the best place to abuse animals for 2010 and 2011.
“This is going to have a deterrent effect going forward that the judicial system in Quebec is starting to take animal cruelty seriously,” said Devine.