A North Vancouver man who kicked his elderly dog in public and dragged it down the street by the leash when the dog had difficulty walking has been handed a suspended sentence by a judge and been banned from owning an animal for five years.
Ali Albert Kormi, 40, was handed the sentence Tuesday by Judge Joanne Challenger after pleading guilty in North Vancouver provincial court to causing an animal to be in distress, an offence under the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Kormi’s actions came to the attention of authorities on Oct. 23, 2017, when a woman phoned police to say she’d seen a man kicking his dog and aggressively dragging it by the leash along West Second Street.
In a statement to police, the woman said she’d watched Kormi lift the dog up by the leash around its neck, then drop it down forcefully. The witness told police she’d also seen Kormi kick his dog “pretty forcefully, with about as much force as you’d kick a soccer ball,” said Crown counsel Linda Ostry.
The woman told police when the dog seemed unable to walk, the man appeared to kick or drag it down the street, said Ostry. “The dog was stumbling a little bit.”
When police arrived, they found Kormi with the dog, an elderly cocker spaniel. The dog was shaking, appeared to be bleeding from one of its paws and was walking in a very stiff manner, said Ostry, while Kormi smelled strongly of alcohol.
Police arrested Kormi and seized the dog, taking it to an emergency veterinarian clinic.
A vet who examined the dog said the animal was in “obvious significant pain” because of disc problems in its spine – for which the animal later had surgery.
The vet indicated some of the animal’s problems were pre-existing degenerative conditions, said Ostry. But those had been made worse by the owner’s mistreatment of the dog, she said, which the vet compared to “pushing an old lady down the stairs.”
The dog ended up staying at the vet clinic for more than a month while recovering. The bill for that, and the surgery – discounted by the clinic – was paid by the North Vancouver RCMP and the SPCA, said Ostry.
Ostry noted Kormi’s actions amounted to a specific act of cruelty, rather than one of misguided neglect, adding an elderly dog like the cocker spaniel “is really at the mercy of his owner to look after it appropriately.”
Kormi’s defence lawyer Hollis Lucky said the dog, named Fidel, was 14 years old, with a history of lumbar spinal problems as well as glaucoma.
Lucky said Kormi has never been in trouble with the law before and has been suffering from depression.
Following a joint recommendation on sentence from both lawyers, Challenger handed Kormi the suspended sentence, plus two years’ probation, with a condition to take counselling, including anger management counselling, if recommended by his probation officer. She also banned Kormi from owning an animal or living in the same premises as a pet for five years, noting any family pet would have been “extremely distressed” by its owner treating it in “such a despicable manner.”
The judge also ordered Kormi to pay $997 to the SPCA and $565 to the North Vancouver RCMP to pay them back for the vet bill.
The spaniel was subsequently adopted by another family through the SPCA.