01/29/2015 02:27 EST | Updated 03/31/2015 05:59 EDT

Calgary Dog Abuse Case Has A Silver Lining: Animal Advocates

Calgary Humane Society
CALGARY - Animal rights advocates in southern Alberta say a horrific case of animal abuse has increased public awareness and will help save other animals in the future.

Some of the money from a reward fund set up following the deaths of a dog and a cat in Calgary last year will be used to help run a national group that will aid in prosecuting animal abusers.

"We have been working over the last year and a half with prosecutors from across the country, with humane societies, SPCAs and the veterinary community to design the National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty," CEO Barbara Cartwright said Thursday.

"It has allowed us to create state-of-the-art materials to launch the only case law database in the country that will be regularly updated, so we put at the fingertips of prosecutors the materials and resources they need in order to vigorously prosecute animal cruelty."

Cartwright said the program will bring together Crown prosecutors, who will learn from each other and act as animal cruelty resource experts in their provinces. She hopes it will lead to a greater number of animal cruelty convictions and new precedents.

A $70,000 reward was raised by the Calgary Animal Abuse Fund last January after a starved dog and a cat were found in back alleys a week apart. The dog had tape around its muzzle and the cat had green painter's tape covering most of its face.

An examination at a veterinarian's office determined the dog had suffered chronic malnourishment before its death. The cat had been strangled and had injuries to its head, tail and hind limbs.

The money was intended as a reward for information that would lead to the person responsible, but the cash was never paid out.

It was distributed to three different organizations Thursday — the Calgary Humane Society, the Four Feet Companion Foundation and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. It is the federation that is working with the new national animal cruelty centre.

Nicolino Camardi, 19, who was charged in the Calgary case, was arrested last May and has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty. He remains in jail as he waits for the results of a psychiatric exam before he is sentenced Feb. 26.

Camardi will have been in custody almost nine months by the time he is sentenced.

Brad Nichols, manager of cruelty investigations for the humane society, said the amount of time Camardi has already been behind bars is a step in the right direction.

"It's nice to see someone who has committed such a horrific animal cruelty act incarcerated for such a long period," Nichols said.

"I'd be hard pressed to even find another case where someone was even sentenced to that amount of incarceration time, so I think we're actually looking at something precedent-setting here."

Greg Habstritt from the company Vets To Go, which organized the reward fund, said he is glad something positive came from the dog and cat's plight.

"The money is definitely a silver lining, because it's actually going to go to help a lot of animals and make a big difference," he said.

"The other part of it is, it brings awareness to this issue. These things are happening all the time and I think a lot of people don't realize how significant this problem is."

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