The Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v Skiffington, [1978] NJ No 152

Two Fisheries Officers saw the respondent and another man in a boat, and watched as they drove their boat back and forth herding dolphins and leading them towards the shoal part of the harbor. The man in front of the boat had a long pole and was hitting at the animals, driving them ashore. When they grounded one of the dolphins, the respondent was seen driving an eel spear into the breathing hole of the dolphin.

When the officers approached, the dolphin’s right eye was bleeding and damaged. There were numerous marks on its body as if it had been hit by a club. Every time the dolphin would breathe it would blow out blood. One of the officers tried to drive the dolphin out into the bay but it would go out a short distance and come back again. The officer, believing that the dolphin could not survive its injuries, then killed it by shooting it with a rifle.

The charge laid against the respondent is that he did cause unnecessary pain, suffering and injury to a dolphin, by beating it with a club and poking out its eye contrary to Section 3(a) of the Protection of Animals Act, Revised Statutes of Newfoundland, 1970, Chapter 311.

The court found that on a proper interpretation of Section 3 of the Protection of Animals Act, the section of the statute was intended to protect from acts of cruelty, animals in captivity or confinement. In these circumstances the court concluded that it could not be said that the dolphin was a captive animal as defined in Section 2(b) of the Protection of Animals Act, and not being a domestic animal, it was not entitled to the protection from acts of cruelty provided by Section 3 of that Act. Therefore, the accused was acquitted.

Source: Case Law

Jurisdiction: Newfoundland and Labrador

Topics: captive animaldolphinHitinjuryinterpretationpainprotectionsufferingwildlife

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