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Saskatchewan animal abuse case dismissed as witness not properly served

Court gavel
A judge has dismissed an animal abuse case due to a witness not being properly served. Getty Images / File Photo

The organization responsible for ensuring the humane treatment of animals in Saskatchewan is upset that an animal abuse case was dismissed over a mistake in the justice system.

On Friday, a judge in Yorkton dismissed the case against Walter Goba over concerns a Crown witness had not been properly served by police.

READ MORE: Mistrial declared in case of Saskatchewan man charged with animal abuse

Goba, 74, faced seven animal cruelty charges involving horses that were seized in December 2013 after a protection officer found them in critical distress.

Kaley Pugh, executive director of Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan, said she hopes the Crown launches an appeal.

“It is obviously very disheartening,” she said. “This particular case was especially frustrating for us because this was someone who was convicted on animal cruelty in another province already.”

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In April 2014, Goba pleaded guilty to animal abuse charges in Manitoba involving dogs and horses. He received a conditional sentence plus a 10-year ban on owning pets or livestock.

Pugh said animal cruelty cases are challenging to investigate and time-consuming to prepare for court.

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There have been other problems with the case.

In June, a mistrial was declared because Goba’s lawyer had not received full disclosure of the evidence from his previous lawyer. A new trial date was set for this month.

“We think that it was a solid case and that the animals were in distress,” Pugh said.

“It wasn’t dismissed because the judge found the person not guilty, it was dismissed because there was an error in procedure.”

The non-profit Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan was formed in 2015 to take over the enforcement of the province’s Animal Protection Act that used to be performed by the Saskatchewan SPCA.

– By John Cotter in Edmonton; with files from CJGX