Peter and Judith Chernecki owned several properties on which they held many animals in very poor conditions. Animal rescuers had to don full protective gear including breathing masks and oxygen tanks in order to enter the buildings due to the buildings’ dangerously unsafe levels of ammonia. The rescuers found and seized 64 dogs as well as several pigeons, rabbits and fish in a two-day rescue operation. 34 of the dogs and several of the pigeons had to be euthanized. A veterinarian estimated that the neglect must have gone on for up to a year to result in some of the dogs’ severe matting. Peter and Judith Chernecki pled guilty to a number of charges pursuant to the Animal Care Act bearing on their failure to provide appropriate care to the animals in terms of space, sanitation, ventilation, medical care and kennel standards.
The Crown asked for a jail sentence of 4 months for Peter Chernecki and fines for Judith Chernecki. The Crown also suggested that the Court prohibit both Cherneckis from owning, possessing, or controlling animals for five years, the maximum period of prohibition. Furthermore, the Crown suggested that the seized animals be deemed the property of the Crown, and that an order be filed for the Cherneckis to reimburse the province for the costs incurred in caring for the seized animals.
The Court reviewed earlier decisions dealing with the neglect of animals and found that this case was distinguished by the number of companion animals involved in the case, the amount of time the dogs were maintained in these conditions, the number of animals that had to be euthanized and the Cherneckis’ risk of reoffending. The Court reviewed pre-sentence reports on both Cherneckis and found they both minimized and deflected blame for the animals’ conditions. The provincial small animal welfare veterinarian remarked that this was the worst case of animal hoarding she had seen, and found that following the animal seizures the Cherneckis had hoarded over 40 cats. Though the Cherneckis seemed to be taking steps to get the cats appropriate veterinary care, the Court expressed concerns about the Cherneckis accumulating animals without trying to adopt them out as a shelter would, and their “disconnect from reality” on the dogs’ conditions. In sentencing, the Court emphasized the need for specific deterrence and denunciation. Mr. Chernecki was sentenced to four months in custody. Mrs. Chernecki was given $21 500 in fines. Furthermore, both were given a two-year supervised probation order and prohibited from owning, possessing or controlling any animals pursuant to s. 35(1) of the Animal Care Act for five years, the maximum period allowed apart from two cats.
Source: Case Law