R v MacKinnon, 2014 ABPC 150

MacKinnon is charged with causing a horse to be in distress, contrary to section 2(1) of the Animal Protection Act.

The accused is not a veterinarian; he was trained in equine dentistry by a non-veterinarian and received some further training by other non-veterinarians. He has been working as an equine dentist in Alberta since 1999. Alberta legislation allows non-veterinarians to do dental work on horses; most other provinces do not.

In 2012, the accused “floated” the teeth of a horse named Big Blue. The owner of the horse notice he was acting differently after the procedure. She took the horse to a veterinarian, who was of the opinion that the cause of the distress was the fact that the accused had cut too much of the incisors, exposing the pulp of the teeth. He attributed later infections in the teeth to the exposure of the pulphorn.

The issues are: 1) whether Big Blue was in distress after the accused floated his teeth; 2) if he was in distress, was that caused by the work done by the accused; and 3) if the distress was caused by the accused, was it done in accordance with reasonable and generally-accepted practices of animal care?

Based on the evidence, the court finds that Big Blue was in distress. The court is also convinced that the cutting of the teeth by the accused led to infection of the teeth root, and that this contributed to the distress suffered by Big Blue. The judge considers the fact that four of the teeth that the veterinarian felt had the pulphorn exposed later developed draining tracts is powerful evidence that establishes that too much had been taken off these teeth, and that infection arose as a result. There was no other explanation given that would explain why the teeth would become infected.

As to the final issue, the suggestion by Crown that the court could find that equine dentistry performed by non-veterinarians is not generally accepted practice, flies in the face of the specific decision of the Government of Alberta to allow it. The accused has been doing equine dental work for years upon thousands of horses. He has many repeat customers, including the owner of Big Blue. No evidence was called to suggest that the problems suffered by Big Blue were anything but an extremely rare miscalculation.

Therefore, the work done by the accused which caused distress to Big Blue was found to be carried on in accordance with reasonable and generally-accepted practices of animal care.

The accused is found not guilty.

Source: Case Law

Jurisdiction: Alberta

Topics: Animal Protection Actdistressequine dentistequine dentistryhorseinfectionnon-veterinarianNot Guiltyreasonable and generally-accepted practices of animal careteethveterinarian

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