Geoffrey Giesbrecht of Steinbach was charged under the federal Health of Animals Act.
The judge considered and rejected a recommendation from the Crown prosecutor for a $7,500 fine.
Court officials said it may be the first time anyone has been sent to jail for violating the act.
Giesbrecht, who was charged in 2007, was trying to cross the border into the United States, at Emerson, Man., with 22 animals in his trailer. Some of the horses were dead, while many of the others were in such poor health they had to be euthanized.
"Inhumane" horse trucker to serve 30 days on weekends
A judge has sentenced a Manitoba trucker to 30 days in jail after he failed to seek medical treatment for several horses seriously injured during a trip to the slaughterhouse.
Geoffrey Giesbrecht, 27, previously pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Health of Animals Act by continuing to transport animals after they had been injured without seeking timely medical attention. Fourteen horses died or were euthanized following the Nov. 7, 2007 incident.
Judge Carena Roller told Giesbrecht she hoped the jail sentence — to be served on weekends — “will strongly deter you from treating animal cargo so inhumanely again.”
The Crown had been seeking a $7,500 fine.
Giesbrecht claimed the animals were injured after he swerved to avoid hitting a car that had stopped abruptly on the highway.
He had 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 ones.
A veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was called in and several of the animals were euthanized on the spot.
Several of the horses were found trapped under other horses or unable to rise on their feet, and many were so dehydrated they were drinking urine from the trailer floor. Several of the downed horses suffered stamping injuries from those still standing.
Giesbrecht chose to keep driving rather than seek medical treatment and at one point tried using an electric prod to stir the downed horses, Roller said.
“Almost inexplicably, he has told the court he loves horses,” Roller said. “That is hard to fathom given the callous and inhumane treatment they received.”
Giesbrecht previously told court he was only following the instructions of his dispatcher. His employer at the time, Shadow Creek Transport, has also been charged in the incident and remains before the court.
Trucker gets jail for abuse of horses
A Steinbach-area trucker will spend the next few weekends in jail after being sentenced for allowing several horses to die in "horrific" conditions in a trailer.
Provincial court Judge Carena Roller on Friday sentenced Geoffery Giesbrecht, 27, to 30 days in jail -- to be served on weekends -- starting June 11. Giesbrecht had pleaded guilty to charges under the federal Health of Animals Act last month.
Crown attorney Jeremy Akerstream said it is believed to be the first time a person has gone to jail after being convicted under the provisions of the act. The maximum penalty is a six-month jail term or a $50,000 fine.
Akerstream had asked for a $7,500 fine for the offences, but Roller decided they were so serious they instead warranted incarceration.
"The emphasis on the judge's sentence was on deterrence," Akerstream said.
"We're satisfied with the ruling."
Officials with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found 22 horses were being transported from the United States to Canada for slaughter in an improper vehicle at the Emerson crossing in November, 2007.
Fourteen of the horses were already dead or had to be put down because they were suffering severe dehydration. Eight other horses were sent to farms to be nursed back to health.
Giesbrecht told the judge the horses were injured when he was forced to swerve to avoid a car stopped with a flat tire on a Minnesota highway. He was on his way to a horse-slaughter plant near Pincher Creek, Alta.
But Roller said the photographs she saw of the conditions inside Giesbrecht's vehicle were "horrific."
I completely disagree with prison time in general. I believe that prison should be used as a last resort and should be reserved for those who pose a danger to society. What this man allegedly did was cruel and inhumane, but it does not warrant jail time in my opinion. He had a legitimate reason, which was stated in a previous blog post of mine. I felt he should have been given probation and a fine.
Jail was not warranted in this case. I am an animal lover and hate to see abuse of animals, but I feel that jail should be a last resort only for those who pose a danger to society and need to be incarcerated to protect the public. This man does not fit the bill. He should have gotten probation and a fine.