Fatally hacking and stabbing a Calgary neighbour’s dog while in a rage over missing property has earned a B.C. man a year in prison.
Robert Nicholson, 36, was also given 18 months’ probation and a five-year ban from owning dogs, cats or birds for his actions March 23, 2015 when he killed border collie-chocolate Labrador Chevy.
The sentence speaks to a strengthening belief that animals should be treated humanely, said Provincial Court Judge John Bascom.
“Sentient animals are not objects,” he said.
“The message must get through that this type of action is unacceptable in a society like our’s.”
Nicholson pleaded guilty to causing harm to an animal when he went looking for a missing TV after returning to his then-Renfrew home from a trip to the Philippines.
He kicked in a neighbour’s door looking for the item and when they weren’t home was confronted by Chevy.
Court heard that he struck the dog’s head with the blunt end of an axe; then used a knife to nearly decapitate the animal when he wouldn’t die. He then buried the dog in his back yard, telling police it had been struck by a car.
A veterinarian told authorities Chevy would have suffered for 10 minutes but might have survived if only struck with the axe.
“If Robert had the choice, which he concedes he did, he failed to pursue the peaceful option,” said Bascom.
In handing down a pet prohibition, Bascom noted Nicholson has been undergoing counselling which will continue.
“He shouldn’t be in the company of any of these animals until this counselling has been deemed successful,” said the judge.
Afterwards, a member of the animal advocacy group Daisy Foundation lauded most of the sentence.
“More people are starting to realize animals should be our equals,” said Heather Anderson.
“Animals are just like us and should be protected like us.”
Anderson said Bascom should have handed Nicholson a lifetime pet ban; instead of the five-year prohibition, “but it’s better than nothing.”
Nicholson’s lawyer described his client as “an animal lover” who’s long owned dogs.
He’s also said his client was threatened by guards while briefly in remand.