A young offender was charged with one count of general cruelty and one of killing a cat. The young owners of an adopted cat requested acquaintances to ‘get rid’ of it, which they took to mean ‘kill it’. Another boy strangled the cat, struck its head three times, and then by kneeling on it which broke its bones. The defendant then beat the cat with a hockey stick until the cat stopped breathing.
The “kept animal” charge was dismissed on the grounds that, while the cat was a ‘kept animal’ the killing was authorized by the owner and therefore “lawful excuse” existed. However on this issue the court stated:
The defendant wilfully maimed and killed the cat but had a lawful excuse to do so. Though the cat’s owners were able to authorize its death, they were not able to authorize criminal acts. The owner of an animal may be able to condemn it to death, but the owner is not able to authorize a method of death the carrying out of which would contravene the criminal law. In other words, an owner cannot legally authorize the putting to death of his or her animal in a manner which violates section 446 of the Criminal Code.
Source: Case Law