Father and son sentenced over injured dog

Andrei James Challenger and James Rolin Challenger were convicted and sentenced Thursday for their roles in caring for a dog named Dora that suffered extensive burns in May 2017.

Andrei Challenger, James’s son, pleaded guilty to failing to exercise proper care and supervision and was sentenced to a conditional discharge if he does not commit another offence within 12 months.

James Rolin Challenger pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and was also sentenced to a conditional discharge if he does not commit another offence within 12 months. James Challenger was also sentenced to compensate the Humane Society for $907.08 for the dog’s treatment.

He was given six months to pay compensation and will serve a month in jail if he does not.

The Crown and defence counsels agreed to a set of facts about the case. A neighbour alleged that Andrei Challenger said he had lit a fire for mosquitoes and suggested that Dora had wandered into it. The Challengers initially treated Dora’s burns – which were subsequently described as “first and second degree burns to its right flank and ventral abdomen” – with cornstarch. James Challenger waited until the next day to bring Dora for treatment at Island Veterinary Services.

The attending veterinarian said the dog “was in great pain and shock” and “required emergency surgery and aggressive post-burn care. Without medical intervention, the dog would’ve died”.

The veterinarian also provided the opinion that the extent of the dog’s suffering would have been apparent to anybody that saw her and that “dogs generally are not prone to walking into fires”.

Dora was pregnant at the time and lost her puppies as a result of the injuries. But she was nursed back to health by Island Vets and Humane Society staffers and later re-homed to a new family.

Crown counsel Darlene Oko told the court Thursday that the Crown could not establish how the dog was burned. Oko told Magistrate Grace Donalds that although the social inquiry report suggested that no conviction might be recorded, it was vital for the court to send a message of deterrence.

“There must be a message sent to the community,” said Oko as part of her sentencing submissions.

“If that is your animal, it is your responsibility to provide adequate treatment.”

Oko requested that the Challengers be barred from owning animals for 10 years, but Magistrate Donalds said she could not make that ruling because the Crown did not prove malicious intent. Magistrate Donalds said it was “clearly a serious incident” when explaining why she recorded a conviction.

Defence counsel Richard Barton, who represented James Rolin Challenger, said that reference letters described him as a “caring, kind, trustworthy friend” and a “hard-working, jovial person”. Barton underlined that he was classified a low-level risk of reoffending, and had no previous convictions.

“He is a simple man who made the unwise decision to take the dog the following morning,” said Barton. “Literally, the only thing Mr. Challenger is guilty of is not acting sooner.”

Dennis Brady, the defence counsel for Andrei Challenger, said that his client was 16 at the time of the incident and that he aspires to have a career in the military.

“I ask you to find he’s expressed remorse sufficiently,” said Brady.

Brady also said his client’s actions amounted to a “youthful indiscretion to an animal in distress”.

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