A 27-year-old man who left his dog to starve to death in a rented home he abandoned in the Woodstock, N.B., area four years ago was sentenced Thursday to a year in jail — double the sentence recommended by the Crown.
Kyle Springer, who previously pleaded guilty to the criminal charge of cruelty to animals, was also sentenced to one year of supervised probation and banned from owning or living with any animals for three years following his release.
More than 50 protesters packed the Carleton County courtroom to demand justice for Diesel, the two-year-old shepherd mix Springer left locked in the house for two months before the dog’s body was discovered.
Judge Julian Dickson described the case as “troubling and disturbing,” noting the apparent lack of motive.
“The reason for the crime was never explained, presumably because it is inexplicable.”
Diesel faced “horrendous suffering,” said Dickson, as Springer looked on from the prisoner’s box, showing no emotion.
The dog’s death was “slow and drawn out” and “must have been extremely painful,” the judge said.
In a victim impact statement read aloud by Dickson, SPCA officer James Perish called the dog’s death “gruesome” and said it has had a “lasting impact” on him.
Dickson said the five- or six-month sentence recommended by the Crown was “grossly inadequate” for Springer, who had moved to Western Canada but was arrested after an anonymous tip when he returned to Carleton County in 2018 for the holidays.
“Mr. Springer does claim to be remorseful, although I have my doubts how genuine that was,” the judge said.
As part of his probation order, Springer must attend any assessment or program deemed appropriate by his probation officer, including any mental health clinic or treatment.
Animal advocates like Susan Henley, who shouted and waved signs outside the courthouse again on Thursday as Springer was escorted in by sheriff’s deputies, welcomed the sentence.
“Finally, someone is listening,” she said. “We’ve done everything to go through government channels and meetings and paperwork and finally someone is listening and this is what it takes.”
Scratch marks everywhere
RCMP were called to Springer’s mini-home on Jan. 15, 2015, after the landlord went to collect overdue rent and found Diesel dead in the fetal position near a window.
The dog’s ribs were protruding and his eyes were sunken. The cause of death was “emaciation and dehydration,” a necropsy found.
According to the statement of facts, Diesel had torn open everything in search of food and water, including bags of sugar, pillows and garbage bags.
His stomach was empty, with the exception of a couple of fragments of plastic, the courtroom heard.
The home appeared covered with scratch marks and the living room, kitchen and bedroom floors were covered with the dog’s urine and feces.
Arrested at grocery store
An arrest warrant for Springer was issued in June 2015 after an investigation by the RCMP and SPCA.
According to western New Brunswick Crime Stoppers, he was arrested on Nov. 12, 2018 in the parking lot of a Foodland grocery store in Florenceville-Bristol.
RCMP approached him because he and his vehicle matched the descriptions provided a tipster. When police asked if he was Kyle Springer, he initially said no but later admitted his identity.
He was released on an undertaking and appeared in court on Jan. 8, 2019, when he pleaded guilty.
Springer has been in custody since April 9. He was scheduled to be sentenced at that time, but the judge said he needed more time to review the evidence and victim impact statements.
Crown prosecutor Nathalie Lajoie had recommended a jail sentence of five to six months, along with a year of supervised probation and a 10-year ban from owning animals.
Defence lawyer Peter Hyslop had requested a 90-day sentence, to be served intermittently. He argued it was Springer’s first offence, and the fact he pleaded guilty should be considered a mitigating factor.
The cruelty to animals charge carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
This story originally appeared on CBC