Crowd demonstrates outside courthouse before animal cruelty case called

Community Court Featured

A large crowd formed outside the Pictou Provincial courthouse on Monday morning to advocate for stricter laws for animal abuse.

After a recent case in Sylvester this February of a man accused of abusing his dog, many in the county and across the province are outraged at what they see as relaxed laws on animal cruelty or laws that are not often enough enforced.

Following that incident, David Oakley was charged with causing damage or injury to animals or birds and causing animals or birds unnecessary suffering. He was to appear in court on Monday.

Along with demanding harsher punishments for animal abuse, those who demonstrated outside the courthouse are also calling for follow up of those charged to be sure they do not have any new animals they could potentially harm.

Stemming from that incident, Brenda Gerrior of Halifax started a petition that she is planning to take to the legislature to encourage stricter laws on animal abuse cases. Gerrior also organized the demonstration that took place outside of the courthouse on Monday.

“There’s several other people that came down from Halifax,” said Gerrior. She added that the person responsible for reporting the accused was also present, which Gerrior said she was happy to see as the accuser was the one who had sparked the whole case. “I think the turnout is great. People are here and enthusiastic and they want to see change.”

Oakley did not show up himself for the court appearance but had his lawyer, Elizabeth Cooper of Dartmouth, appeared on his behalf via telephone. During the proceedings, Crown prosecutor Christie MacKinnon elected to proceed initially with the charge. Oakley’s lawyer called for an adjournment for one week until May 6.

During the demonstration which, despite the chilly wind, still drew big crowds outside and inside the courthouse, Gerrior was still able to gain 100 new signatures for her petition, bringing the total now up to more than 4,000.

“We want the laws enforced,” she said. “People are concerned that this continues to happen.”

Gerrior plans to actively pursue this and will not give up until the laws are enforced properly.

“I want people to know that animals are not a possession,” Gerrior said.

Faye Decoste signs a petition for stricter enforcement of animal cruelty laws. (Brimicombe photo)