Justice Peter O‘Flaherty of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court (NLSC) dismissed a Crown appeal of the acquittal of Robert Picco on eight counts of criminal animal cruelty in March 2021. In September 2018, Picco contacted a rescue organization, Beagle Paws, asking if they could recover and rehome the four beagles he kept outside on his mother’s property. The organization recovered the dogs the next day in a severely emaciated condition, took them for veterinary care, and alerted the police. Two months later, Picco was charged with four counts of willful neglect (s. 446(1)(b)) and four counts of willfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury (s. 445.1(a)) under the Criminal Code. After a three-day trial in September 2020, the trial judge found that the Crown had not proven the mental element of “willfully” neglecting or causing the suffering and acquitted Picco. On appeal, the Crown argued that the trial judge made a legal error regarding the requisite mens rea, and a factual error as to the suffering of the dogs when they were recovered. The Court dismissed the appeal, finding no legal error, and finding that the trial judge did not reach a clearly wrong or unreasonable factual finding. Read Justice O’Flaherty’s judgment in R v Picco, 2022 NLSC 79 here.