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Man who tossed cat in dumpster to get mental-health treatment

An Esquimalt man who put his sister’s cat in a crate and tossed it in a dumpster has agreed to take court-ordered treatment for his mental health.
Justice court generic photo
Ian Grant Donaldson, 60, pleaded guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life for an animal.

An Esquimalt man who put his sister’s cat in a crate and tossed it in a dumpster has agreed to take court-ordered treatment for his mental health. 

On Thursday, Ian Grant Donaldson, 60, pleaded guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life for the animal.

Judge Christine Lowe suspended the passing of sentence and placed Donaldson on probation for 18 months. She ordered Donaldson to participate in psychiatric assessment, counselling and treatment for anger management and drug abuse.

Lowe has also required Donaldson to attend all his doctors’ visits, take his medication and inform his doctor, psychiatrist and counsellors if he fails to comply with the court order.

“It seems clear something is not quite right. Do you agree?” Lowe asked.

Donaldson, a registered nurse, agreed.

“The important thing in terms of sentencing is to put you in a position to get the kind of assistance you need to understand what’s been motivating you to act in the way you’ve been acting,” Lowe said.

“Because if you continue to do these sort of things, you’re going to come in contact with the law again and find yourself in custody. We don’t want the revolving door.”

Crown prosecutor Jeff Johnston told the court that Donaldson had been staying with his sister Maureen at her apartment on Head Street in Esquimalt. She was increasingly concerned about his behaviour.

On Aug. 1, they argued and when Donaldson pushed her, she left the apartment.

When she returned later that day, there was blood on the floor and her cat was missing, said Johnston. She phoned police and officers found a belligerent Donaldson riding his bike over the Johnson Street Bridge.

“They needed additional officers to deal with him. Because he was so non-compliant, he was placed in cells and held in custody for court in the morning,” Johnston said.

Meanwhile, Maureen and the police searched for the cat. Donaldson refused to tell anyone where it was, Johnston said.

It turned out the blood was from Donaldson’s finger. The cat bit him. He lost his temper, put it in a carrier, left the apartment and put the cat in an industrial waste dumpster, which contained a large amount of water. He closed the lid.

“Through no help of Donaldson, they found the cat in distress in a large Alpine dumpster,” Johnston said.

The cat was taken to a downtown animal hospital suffering from stress and shock.

It did not appear to be injured, the lawyer said.

Victoria police officers paid for the cat’s initial treatment at the animal hospital. After their initial press release, police received a flood of offers from people wanting to pay for the cat’s veterinary care. The bill has been covered and the cat is on the mend, said police spokesman Bowen Osoko.

Donaldson did not have much of a criminal record, but in 2015 and 2016, things started to go sideways, Johnston said.

“We don’t have a professional assessment dealing with his mental health issues. But the strong suspicion is his mental health is playing a role and it’s amplifying and creating difficulties,” he said.

Victoria lawyer Hans Doerhing said Donaldson was shocked because the cat “kept on his finger while it was biting him.”

“He overreacted and he realizes that … it was way over the top,” Doerhing said.

“Throwing the cat in the dumpster left that cat to perish,” Lowe told Donaldson.

“And it sounds like if it were not for the fact the police continued to look for that cat, it would have likely perished. The poor thing was in stress and distress, which is terrible.

“I think, in hindsight, you realize what you did.”

ldickson@timescolonist.com