Arena for Animal Fighting: If you set up a structure where animals - typically dogs or chickens - are encouraged to fight for the amusement or the betting purposes of others, you can be charged with arena for animal fighting under s.447 (1) of the Criminal Code. The maximum sentence for this offence is five years in prison and you could be ordered to pay the costs for maintaining any animals seized during the arrest.
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What Is Arena for Animal Fighting?
Section 447 (1) of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to build, make, maintain or keep an arena for animal fighting on property you own or occupy, or to allow others to build such an arena. The Code once specifically addressed the crime of cockfighting, but in 2019 this section was broadened to capture other types of animal fighting, recognizing that dogs are often used in these illegal fights. In addition, s.445.1 (1) of the Code makes it an offence to encourage, assist or receive money from the fighting or baiting of animals or birds.
What the Crown Must Prove
In order to secure a conviction, the Crown must show that you knowingly set up some form of arena or viewing area where animals were encouraged to fight, or that you allowed others to put such a facility on your property.
Treated as a Summary Conviction or Indictable Offence
Arena for animal fighting is considered a hybrid offence, meaning it can be prosecuted as an indictable offence or a summary conviction. You will receive a harsher sentence if you are convicted of an indictable offence.
What Is the Penalty?
If you are convicted of the indictable offence of running or facilitating an arena for the purpose of staging fights between animals, the maximum sentence is five years in jail. If the charge is treated as a summary conviction, the maximum penalty is $10,000 or a jail term of two years less a day, or both.
The court can also make an order prohibiting you from owning, having custody of or residing in the same premises as an animal or a bird during any period the court considers appropriate. On a second or subsequent offence, that period will be at least five years.
In addition, you may also be ordered to pay a person or an organization that has taken care of an animal or a bird confiscated as a result of the arrest that led to your conviction “if the costs are readily ascertainable.”