Breezy the dog’s attacker pleads guilty

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 28, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

OTTAWA — The man who brutally attacked Breezy the dog in an assault that captured the attention of animal welfare advocates and citizens the city over might have pleaded guilty to maiming her, but the Crown alleges that he also stomped and skinned several other small animals.

Steven Helfer, 24, admitted he kicked Breezy in the head with steel-toed boots, hit her repeatedly with a rake, and smashed her “over and over� with a shovel he had hoisted over his head before delivering each blow on Oct. 16.

Helfer’s mother and sister, however, told police that he had a history of beating, maiming and killing other animals and had been abusing Breezy for some time.

Annoyed by the sound made by a litter of newborn chinchillas and their mother, Helfer is alleged to have taken the entire family to the back step, thrown each animal on the concrete and stomped on them until each was dead. Helfer’s sister Ashley alleged that Helfer then returned to the house as if nothing had happened.

His mother also alleged he had killed and skinned six pet rats, hanging their skins on display inside a TV cabinet. Rachel Lacroix said that he once threatened her with a meat cleaver, saying she’d suffer the same fate as the rats.

She called him a “monster.�

Helfer denied those claims. None has been proven in court, although the Crown intends to attempt to prove them during a special sentencing hearing on Jan. 15.

The day of the attack on Breezy, Helfer was angry that his estranged mother, who had just returned to their shared townhouse on Barclay Road, wouldn’t let him inside, so he viciously beat the dog that she had given him for Christmas.

The court heard that Helfer kicked Breezy into a plywood shack and lifted her by the chain around her neck.

He first used the rake, then a long-handled shovel to beat the black Labrador-shepherd mix as a chorus of horrified neighbours shouted at him to stop.

Breezy tried to get to her feet, but every time she did, the court was told, Helfer hit her again with the shovel until she didn’t get up. He put the badly injured Breezy in a wheelbarrow then covered the dog with his shirt, which he had removed. He took off running down the street, eventually dumping the dog in a trash bin.

Court heard that when neighbours tried to intervene to save Breezy, Helfer waved a rake at them and told them to stay away.

Myrna McNab, 48, a neighbour, jumped into the garbage bin to help Breezy, who was still breathing, but not moving.

“It was so vicious,� McNab said Friday.

Helfer also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a weapon for threatening neighbours with the rake and to criminally harassing his mother. He was ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment before a sentencing hearing.

“To me that’s great. I’m glad he did because he needs to serve time and he also needs to get help, because he obviously has something wrong with him,� McNab said.

For days after the attack, she said, it was hard for her to stop thinking about the dog. “I was so worried about her.�

Breezy suffered massive injuries: lacerations to her head and body, broken teeth, long, deep gashes to her muzzle area, fractures to her skull, a swollen brain and a fractured rib. She had a large gash under her right eye and might still lose the eye. Air was leaking from one of her lungs, and her head injuries exposed bone fragments, muscle and nerves. Breezy briefly stopped breathing en route to the humane society.

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