This article is biased when it says, "hoping to walk away with a fine" which implies that that type of a sanction would be too lenient, when in reality, prison time is not necessary in a case such as this and a fine IS appropriate.
Not seeking treatment if injured horses, may mean jail
A Manitoba truck driver is facing a possible jail sentence after he neglected to seek medical treatment for several horses injured during a trip to the slaughterhouse.
Geoffrey Giesbrecht, 27, previously pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Health of Animals Act, specifically continuing to transport animals after they have been injured without seeking timely medical attention.
Fourteen horses died or were euthanized following the Nov. 7, 2007, incident.
At a hearing Wednesday, Judge Carena Roller urged Giesbrecht to secure a lawyer, warning him she was considering jailing him for the offence. The maximum penalty for the offence is a $50,000 fine and/or six months in jail.
“If you are going to throw me in jail for killing horses instead of people, then I don’t have the money to pay a lawyer,” said Giesbrecht, a father of five.
Giesbrecht claimed the animals were injured Nov. 7, 2007, after he swerved to avoid hitting a car that had stopped abruptly on the highway.
“Why would I go to jail for saving people’s lives?” he said.
Giesbrecht ultimately agreed to meet with a Legal Aid lawyer. A date for sentencing has not been set.
Giesbrecht picked up a load of 22 horses in Minnesota and was bound for Pincher Creek, Alta., when border officials stopped him at the Emerson crossing. Inside Giesbrecht’s trailer, border officials found several injured horses trapped under the bodies of dead horses and other horses so exhausted or seriously injured they could not stand.
A veterinary with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was called in and several of the animals were euthanized on the spot.
At a hearing last February, Crown attorney Jeremy Akerstream said he would be seeking a $7,500 fine. Akerstream said Giesbrecht had ample opportunity to seek medical treatment for the animals prior to arriving at the Emerson border crossing.
“These were horses that were badly in need of medical care and died a horrible death,” Akerstream said. “Investigators at the scene were shocked and so were the veterinarians.”
Giesbrecht said he was only following instructions of his dispatcher.
“I could have (stopped to seek medical attention) but I did as I was told,” he said.
Akerstream said the animals had been tied to the walls of the trailer, leaving them unable to protect themselves from each other following the accident. Several of the horses were found in an “advanced state of shock” trapped under other horses or unable to rise on their feet.
Many horses were so dehydrated they were drinking urine from the trailer floor.
Several of the downed horses suffered stamping injuries from those horses still standing.
For a man who cannot afford a lawyer, and who has a large family to support, $7500 is quite a bit of money and it would definitely have an impact on his life. Prison should be reserved for only the most dangerous and high risk offenders to society. This man is not one of them. We need less reliance on prisons as a way to hold people accountable for their actions. There are alternatives. Besides, the prospect of punishment does not deter potential offenders. Only the certainty of being caught does.
Some people argue that imposing a prison sentence would send a message to potential criminals that we are "getting tough on crime." In reality, they would be getting STUPID on crime! Prison is NOT needed for this man, as it has a negative influence on individuals. There are LEAST RESTRICTIVE METHODS that the Judge could impose instead, such as a fine. This man is NOT dangerous to society. I feel that we need to rely LESS on prison sentences and start shifting society from one based on punishment (which clearly is not working) to one based on restorative justice and rehabilitation.
Our criminal justice system still seems to be underpinned on the philosophical ideas of Rational Choice Theory, stating that humans have free will, fear punishment, weigh the pros and cons of their behaviour and that punishment is a deterrence to potential law breakers. This is merely a THEORY and is NOT based on ANY scientific evidence or support. This is what the tough on crime measures are relying on. No wonder it's not effective.