Animal Justice Files Complaint Against Police for Bludgeoning Deer with Axe

Animal Justice has filed a complaint against Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers over the cruel and likely illegal treatment of an injured deer.

On September 3, 2023, two OPP officers responded to a call near downtown Kenora, Ontario, concerning a deer that had been hit by a vehicle. The officers decided to euthanize the animal—but instead of using a safe and humane method, or calling for support, they violently struck the deer in the head with the blunt end of an axe and left her there to slowly die in agony, which took over an hour, according to local residents who witnessed the horrific incident.

The tortured carcass of the deer remained on the street corner until the next day when a local resident moved it into a bush.

One witness said that the police hit the deer “once and left”. She claims that they “pretty much took out her eye, it was pretty much gone”. The individuals who filmed the incident said that the animal “suffered for a long time after [the OPP officers] left”.

Animal Justice Files Cruelty Complaint Against OPP

Animal Justice filed a complaint alleging that the officers in the video acted contrary to the Police Code of Conduct because the officers used cruel and unnecessary force against the deer and their conduct could discredit the reputation of the police force.

In our complaint, Animal Justice argued that the officer’s actions were blatantly cruel, inflicted undue pain and suffering, and were a careless display of fatal force against an animal in front of members of the public. It is an offence under the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act to cause an animal to be in distress. Similarly, the Criminal Code makes it an offence to wilfully cause or permit unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury to an animal.

The officers in question could have acted in countless more reasonable ways, including calling local animal services, contacting the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for advice, or contacting a local animal rehabilitation centre for instruction on how to humanely contain or euthanize the animal.

The officers responsible for violently striking this animal with an axe in front of members of the public and leaving her to suffer should be held accountable for this unreasonable, and potentially illegal, use of force.

History of Police Brutality Against Animals

There’s a troubling trend in Canada in recent years involving law enforcement using cruel and inappropriate methods of euthanasia and subjecting animals to prolonged agony. Animal Justice has lodged numerous legal complaints in response to these distressing incidents.

In May of 2023, Kawartha Lakes Police Service officers were exposed for beating an injured raccoon to death with a shovel.

In March of 2023, an officer was seen firing 13 shots at an injured deer over a half-hour period before the deer finally died.

In 2021, an Animal Justice complaint prompted an investigation after a Calgary police officer was caught on tape kicking a police dog.

In 2019, a Lethbridge, Alberta police officer was investigated after an onlooker filmed him repeatedly driving a police truck over an injured deer.

And in 2015, the Ontario Provincial Police tragically killed Merrick, a 21-year-old deaf dog, by running him over at least three times with a police cruiser.

Despite all of these incidents, none of the officers involved were held to account for inflicting severe and unjustifiable suffering upon these animals.

Even conservation officers, who are supposed to safeguard wildlife, are notorious in some provinces for needlessly shooting and killing healthy animals in the wild.

Animals, particularly those who are injured or sick, are vulnerable and should be treated humanely and in a manner that minimizes distress, injury, pain, or suffering. Police are not above the law, and Animal Justice will keep fighting to ensure that officers are held responsible when they cause harm to innocent animals.