On Thursday we saw what had been expected for some time: Robert Fawcett, the man accused of cruelly killing more than 50 sled dogs in Whistler in 2010, pleaded guilty in North Vancouver provincial court.
Unlike the dozens of other cases heard in the same courtroom this week, and thousands of others so far this year, this one drew protesters, placards and media from across the Lower Mainland.
Fawcett's crime was as shocking as it was inhumane, but it says something about our collective attitude that this case has mobilized people unlike almost any other.
B.C.'s courts hear countless cases that involve human suffering, and the media report on events every day that underscore the misery experienced by many in this province, and yet it is the stories involving animals that spark the most sustained outrage.
One could argue that animals require special attention because they are voiceless, but the marginalized groups who find themselves the target of some of the worst crimes often go equally unheard. As regular courtroom reporters can tell you, mental illness, addiction, poverty, abuse and other forms of lifelong disenfranchisement are frequent themes, as often among the offenders as among their victims.
The province, feeding off public anger, has tightened rules for the sled dog industry and toughened the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Maybe if we saw this type of anger in cases where lack of access to proper mental healthcare or funding for children in foster care were factors, our courtrooms would be quieter places year-round.