This is an application by the accused, Hunter, for a Charter remedy based on a violation of his right against unreasonable search and seizure. The accused faced a series of charges under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The accused submitted that a search by inspectors was conducted pursuant to an illegal warrant and breached his rights. The Society had received a complaint concerning animals located at the accused’s property, stating that five to six horses were kept in a small pen, fed old hay, and did not have access to water. That horses were also kept on pallets in another handmade shed.
An inspector attended the accused’s property on June 22nd and took photographs from the accused’s driveway and conducted a complete and thorough search. On July 7, after another call from the informant, the inspectors and police conducted a preauthorized search for animals in distress. Several horses were removed. The accused submitted that the initial search by the inspector was unreasonable and argued that the warrant and subsequent search flowed from the initial breach and thus any related evidence should be excluded.
The court allowed the application as there were no reasonable grounds to believe that any animals on the accused’s property were in immediate distress, thereby justifying a warrantless search.
When the inspector entered the accused’s driveway, she was not in possession of a warrant and did not obtain the accused’s permission to enter his property. The inspector acted solely on the informant’s complaint without further investigation to corroborate the complaint. The warrantless search by the inspector was illegal and breached the accused’s rights.
Source: Case Law