|Breezy finally got her happy ending in a new, loving home.|
Steven Helfer, 24, pleaded guilty in December to animal cruelty for the attack on Breezy, a young lab-cross, in addition to other crimes, and was in court for sentencing this morning. Helfer received a two-year sentence, will not be allowed to own an animal for 25 years, and will be on probation for three years. This is the longest sentence we have seen in Ottawa and believe it's the longest seen in Canada for animal abuse.
How do we feel at the Ottawa Humane Society? Relieved.
This has been a long journey and an emotional one for our staff and volunteers. Seasoned staff were very shaken by this case. Our community was shaken too. The outrage for the crime and concern for the innocent victim surprised even us. Something changed. The violence of this crime shocked Ottawa as no other. Even those not particularly devoted to animals and their welfare seemed to recognize that this crime meant something bigger. The community rallied behind Breezy like no animal before. It was the case that would define the next phase of animal welfare. Our community is more aware of what happens to animals in our midst. And it wants it to change.
We all hoped and prayed for Breezy when we weren't sure she would live. We desperately wanted a happy ending for her. And she got it in the form of a new, loving home.
We were all anxious about the legal outcome. We all needed to know that this crime would not go unpunished. We needed to know because of what it would mean about our community if it did. Justice needed to happen.
We have closure, but our eyes are opened.
P.S. I would be remiss if I didn't thank the many people who devoted so much to Breezy. Our outstanding Rescue and Investigation Services team, who first responded to the crime and supported the investigation are second to none. Our animal care team, veterinary partners and many volunteers all gave their all to bring Breezy back from the brink. Our first-rate adoption staff used their considerable talents to find the perfect home to meet Breezy's special needs.
Of course, dozens of animals are rescued and cared for every day by OHS staff and volunteers. None of them can be here for the animals without you, our committed supporters.