The maximum sentence under the Criminal Code is five years prison time and up to $75,000 in fines.
Besides three years of probation, [Judge Steve] Merrick ordered Fawcett to pay a $1,500 fine, complete 200 hours community work service, and he may not participate in the sled dog industry or make decisions about euthanizing animals.
The British Columbia SPCA investigated the killings and was displeased with the sentence:
Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the SPCA, said B.C. has adequate animal-cruelty laws but the court system failed.
Fawcett “basically walked away, and he was paid taxpayer dollars in compensation for committing the crime,” Moriarty said.
She acknowledged it’s rare for investigators to criticize rulings, but said the SPCA did its job in this case and “the courts did not.”
“We put forward strong evidence that animals suffered, and that this occurred over a few days,” Moriarty said. “When you look at other animal-cruelty cases in Canada … I think the sentence here is not reflective of what Canadians feel.”
The judge concluded that Mr. Fawcett “had the ‘best interests’ of the dogs at heart” and was mentally unstable at the time of the killings.