Steven Helfer, a 24-year-old Ottawa man, was charged with one count of criminal harassment, two counts of assault with a weapon, and one count of maiming a dog. Helfer had been living with his mother, Ms. Lacroix, until July 2013 when she moved out. On the morning of October 16th, 2013, Lacroix returned to collect some of her belongings. An argument ensued between them, resulting in the police removing Helfer from the premises and Lacroix locking him out.
When Helfer returned later that morning, he demanded that Lacroix give him Breezy – a dog that she had bought for him. Helfer dragged Breezy out to the front yard, where he kicked her repeatedly and lifted her off the ground by her collar. Helfer picked up a rake and began to hit her on the head with it. Breezy was crying and yelping. Some neighbours yelled at Helfer to stop.
Helfer then picked up a metal shovel and repeatedly beat Breezy with it. When she tried to get up, he continued to beat her until she lay motionless and covered in blood. He then put her body in a wheelbarrow and left her in a nearby dumpster. Humane Society agents arrived shortly thereafter and transported Breezy to a veterinary hospital. Her injuries included traumatic wounds, deep lacerations, respiratory and pulmonary disfunction, extensive eye damage, and visible muscles and nerves.
Helfer pled guilty to the charges. Defence sought a 9- to 12-month sentence plus probation. It emphasized Helfer’s learning disorders, personality disorders, and cannabis abuse. The Crown sought a 4-year sentence, filing a number of victim impact statements, a newspaper article highlighting increases in animal cruelty in Ottawa, and a petition asking that the Crown proceed by indictment.
Ultimately, for the charge of maiming a dog, Justice Alder sentenced Helfer to a two-year prison term and a 25-year prohibition on owning, having custody or control of, or residing in the same premises as an animal or bird.
Source: Case Law