On Friday, May 11th, after cruelly neglecting and starving six horses in his care, directly causing the death of two, former veterinarian Mark Marohn was sentenced to a two year probation, 150 hours of community service and a two year ban on owning or caring for animals.
If everything we say and do reveals us, this probationary sentence and supportive reasoning by Judge Reginald Harris exposes a system so tolerant of animal cruelty, it will allow even those sworn to “promote animal health and welfare and relieve animal suffering” to imperil the lives of animals in their care with little consequence. (See full Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Oath at http://canadianveterinarians.net/about-oath.aspx)
Judge Harris noted Mr. Marohn’s volunteerism with the SPCA as one of the reasons for his reduced sentence. As a volunteer and veterinarian, Mark Marohn would have been more aware than most of the resources available to him through foster care, adoption or rescue facilities and the fact that he repeatedly chose to deny the SPCA access to his property, obstruct them in their attempts to document the horses’ health and decline offers of assistance demonstrates a wilful act of neglect and abuse.
As a veterinarian educated in equine health, he would have been more aware of the health implications for horses with body scores below two and the suffering inflicted through starvation and malnutrition.
This sentence tells us that the court sees sworn oaths as meaningless and its history of probationary sentencing for crimes against animals, despite the irrefutable link between animal abuse and violence towards people (see 1983 study, Deviney et al2), reveals shortsightedness along with a culture that places little to no value on the welfare of animals. Although a bill (C-373) to amend the animal cruelty section of the Criminal Code and update penalties and sentencing tools has been in the works since 1998, it has yet to be supported by both House and Senate.
Mr. Marohn must be denied the right to own or care for animals for the remainder of this life and Canada must amend the Criminal Code to catch up with the rest of the developed world.