Napanee men get jail time for dog drowning

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In a full, but quiet courtroom, Travis Haaksman and Carl Wood, both 19, learned their fate at the sentencing hearing on Jan. 29 in Napanee. Both men, who were found guilty of animal cruelty at the trial back in November 2012, received jail time.

Haaksman was sentenced to three months in jail, followed by two years probation, and 10years prohibited of owning or living with any animal, along with not owning any firearms. 

Wood received two months of jail time with the same probation and prohibited sentences but with the stipulation that he could live with his grandparents, who own a dog, upon release.

Provincial Justice Geoff Griffin said that he had to take into consideration the facts of this case, the existing case law and the characteristics of the defendants when deciding on the sentence.

Both men sat quietly while the lawyers and judge spoke, not acknowledging others in the room unless they were spoken directly to by the judge.

The case has sparked outrage in the community. Protests were held outside the local courthouse, and a 8,000-signature petition and angry and concerned letters were sent to the Crown attorney’s office, demanding the men be “punished to the full extent of the law”.

“I don’t think there is any place in court for petitions.  That’s what the judge is for,” said defence attorney John Wonnacott, who was representing Wood.

The heard that on April 28 last year Haaksman, Wood and a third person took Haaksman’s pet dog Jake for a walk to a local Napanee quarry. They tied a cinder block, which they had brought with them, to the end of the dog’s leash and threw the dog into the 12-15 feet of water. 

According to the autopsy, the dog was alive when thrown into the water.

Both men had pleaded not guilty.

Wood was described as “a follower.  Simpleminded, lacking direction and goals,” by Crown attorney Richard Floyd, quoting from the court psychiatric report. 

The report also stated that Wood also showed remorse where Haaksman showed little to no remorse and has denied responsibility.

Just before sentencing, Justice Griffin asked both men if they had anything to say.

“All this happening is a real big misunderstanding and will never happen again,” said Wood quietly. “I like animals…. more than I like most stuff.” 

Haaksman declined to speak to the court.

The court heard that Canadian case law around Animal Cruelty changed in 2008 to reflect changing public opinion that existing sentences were not sufficient. 

Justice Griffin stated that he researched cases post-2008 that are similar to determine what types of punishments were applied.  Those cases included animal torture and the defendants received six months jail time.

Justice Griffintook 20 minutes to deliberate before coming back with his ruling. Once the sentence was delivered, both men were taken into custody.

Haaksman stood,hugged his crying girlfriend and then followed the officer, without acknowledging anyone else in the courtroom. 

Wood appeared upset when he hugged his grandfather and other supporters.


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