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Kamloops man accused of killing Chihuahua pleads guilty to animal cruelty

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August 12, 2016 - 11:34 AM

'IT HAS TO BE THE WORST DECISION I'VE EVER MADE IN MY LIFE.'

KAMLOOPS - A man accused of beating his family's pet Chihuahua to death with a fence post says he didn't intend to kill the animal that day.

Christopher Mathes, 41, pleaded guilty in Kamloops Provincial Court today, Aug. 12, to one count of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal.

Judge Roy Dickey is expected to sentence Mathes next month.

Crown prosecutor Alex Janse told the court that on Oct. 11, 2015, Mathes killed the small dog by repeatedly beating it over the head with a fence post after the animal bit his six-year-old daughter's face.

Mathes' daughter was playing on the ground that October night, when the Chihuahua lunged at her, biting the girl under the left eye.

Defence lawyer Chris Thompson said Mathes and his wife tended to the girl's wounds and immediately let the dog outside.

Mathes' wife had asked him to put the dog in the garage, but Mathes told the court when he went outside the dog was acting aggressive and attempting to attack him.

"I wish I would have turned my back and ran," Mathes said. "I felt horrible."

Mathes said he grabbed the closest object to him to defend himself and struck the dog once over the head.

Thompson said the dog was still alive, but Mathes didn't want it to suffer, so he hit the dog one or two more times.

The family had buried the dog near Heffley Creek. Janse said a third-party made a call to the BC SPCA to explain what happened and where the dog was buried.

A necropsy report done by a veterinarian showed the dog had multiple skull fractures, dried blood in its ears, mouth and nose, and a broken upper jaw.

The BC SPCA estimates the dog was under 10 pounds. 

Court heard the Mathes' dog had been aggressive for weeks, biting other dogs in the face, snarling when dogs walked past it and multiple attempts to attack other people.

But Janse argued that is no reason to kill an animal, and the family could have opted for a humane, legal euthanization instead.

"You have to explore humane alternatives," Janse said. "To blame this dog... is unacceptable."

Thompson called this a very specific case, emphasizing the Mathes family had a long history of owning and caring for animals without any incident, and the accused did not set out to cause harm that night.

"They have a real understanding that force shouldn't be used with animals," Thompson said. "They had no intention to kill the dog."

Mathes said he was trying to protect his family, and he and his wife had already decided they would have to hand the dog back to the agency they got it from.

"It has to be the worst decision I've ever made in my life so far," he told the court.

Crown is asking for a conditional sentence of six months to be served in the community and a 10-year prohibition on owning a dog.

Defence is asking for a suspended sentence which would hold similar conditions as a conditional sentence, but it would leave Mathes without a criminal record.

Mathes is scheduled to be back in court next week to fix a date for sentencing.


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