The election provided some disappointingly expected results — keeping Harper, but it also gave us some surprises as the New Democratic Party emerged as the official opposition party. This will be good news for animal welfare as the stance the NDP has made public for animal welfare is very much in line with what animal advocates have been asking for.
So with that hurtle behind us, we must hold them to their word. It’s not so much that we can relax from our protests, vigils and petitions, but hopefully we now have voices in Parliment that are hearing us.
I am optimistic about these changes at this point. I hope you are, too, and will resolve yourself to continuing our push for better animal welfare legislation. Let’s hold the NDP to their pre-election stance.
To quote a comment from Open-Eyes on one CBC newspage:
We must remember the parties do not own the voters, it is the other way around.
Change is slow, but I think we are on the path to seeing a new Canada. We have this opportunity now to create better legislation for our animals — companion, wild and farm animals. It is what we have been asking for for years, so let’s not waste it.
With thoughts of the slaughtered sled dogs, healthy pets killed in our shelters, abused farm animals, pathetic puppy mills, affordable spay/neuter options, stricter legislation for animal cruelty and so much more, I urge everyone to get behind some aspect of animal welfare and apply yourself to it.
Finally, change for our animals is at our fingertips. We CAN make it happen!
DAISY Foundation received the following message as a comment on the post about the Sled Dog vigil, but because Election Day is May 2, I want to also add it as a post so everyone is aware of the New Democrats’ stance with regards to animal welfare in Canada. Thank you Lesley for sharing this with us!
RESPONSE FROM NDP CANDIDATE COLLIN ANDERSON ON THEIR POSITION FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS
New Democrats recognize that animal welfare is very important. We support strengthening provisions of the Cruelty to Animals Section of the Criminal Code of Canada to discourage violence and cruelty against animals and to punish those responsible for such acts.
We continue to support meaningful legislation to provide real protection for animals. The abuse of any vulnerable creature, human or otherwise, is something that we should all take extremely seriously.
Specifically, the NDP are on record in support of amending the Criminal Code to:
• move animals out of property law and extend protections to wild animals and strays,
• make it illegal to train animals for fighting or profit from animal fighting;
• close loopholes that allow 99 per cent of those charged with animal cruelty to escape conviction.
We fought tirelessly in the past to get these important amendments through the House of Commons. We agree that the legislation Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals), is deeply flawed and that is why we joined the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in opposing this Bill.
New Democrats also support the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare and will work with the Provinces, Territories, government departments and agencies and stakeholders to update Canada’s laws and policies on animal cruelty and welfare to reflect the principles of UDAW. Furthermore, we will … ensure Canada plays a leadership role internationally to promote animal welfare.
With regard to animal transportation, the NDP’s Agriculture critic, Alex Atamanenko, MP, has been working to promote policies that protect animals from the various stresses they may endure during the excessively long transport times allowed under the current regulatory regime. He has been corresponding with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and meeting with officials since 2006 to urge them to move more quickly to modernize the current regulations around animal transportation. Although the CFIA has been studying this issue for several years, changes in regulations are still outstanding.
In 2008, Mr. Atamanenko had his motion passed at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food (SCAAF) calling for CFIA officials to be brought before the Committee to present a briefing on the status of their regulatory review process. According to their presentation they were still working with the Justice Department and preparing the regulatory amendments for publication in the Canada Gazette to be followed by a public consultation process. In response to Mr. Atamanenko’s November, 2009 follow up letter, the CFIA indicated there was still no movement on this file.
Mr. Atamanenko also re-introduced his previous motion in the House of Commons. It states as follows:
M-436 – September 15, 2009 – Mr. Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior) – That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately move to publish the revised regulations governing animal transportation under the Health of Animals Act.
Again, thank you for writing to me about such an important issue.
You can read more about their stance on the Vote for Animals website. Or download Case for a Universal Declaration On Animal Welfare.
Remember: Get out and vote. Reading a blog or carrying signs for the news cameras won’t change the world for our animals. Voting can.
About this time a year ago, someone was sitting in the office of their business and looking over the financials. The expected boom from the recent Olympics had not worked out as expected, so changes had to be made. The easiest and quickest change would be to reduce the number of dogs this sled dog touring company had in its inventory. So he decided: 100 sled dogs needed to be killed.
And word was sent to the man who lives among them — the sled dogs’ very lifeline. It would be the job of their caretaker — the man who fed them, attended to them; the man who named them, and even kept one of them as his family dog — to kill them.
Reports that I have read say that he tried to find homes for as many as he could. And he was largely unsuccessful. The BC SPCA reportedly turned him down saying that sled dogs are unadoptable. This is not true.
But what I read that has stuck with me the most was the report released from Work Safe BC:
“As a result of the panic, mid-way through April 21st, he wounded but did not kill one dog, “Suzie”. Suzie was the mother of his family’s pet dog “Bumble”. He had to chase Suzie through the yard because the horrific noise she made when wounded caused him to drop the leash. Although she had the left side of her cheek blown off and her eye hanging out, he was unable to catch her. He then obtained a gun with a scope and used it to shoot her when she settled down close to another group of dogs. When he went to gather her body he was attacked by one of the other dogs and bitten in the arm. Although because he had a thick shirt on he was not injured, the moment was horrific given his fear when attacked combined with his feelings about the culling of the dogs.”
“On April 21 ,2010, he put down approximately 55 dogs. As he neared the end of the cull that day, the dogs were so panicked they were biting him; he had to wrap his arms in foam to prevent injury. He also had to perform what he described as “execution style” killings where he wrestled the dogs to the ground and stood on them with one foot to shoot them. The last few kills were “multiple-shot killings” as he was simply unable to get a clean shot. He described a guttural sound he had never heard before from the dogs and fear in their eyes.”
I do not doubt that this man has PTSD. I would be forever haunted. I want to scream at the computer that he could have done more and should have done more. But I have not walked in his shoes to fully understand the path he chose.
Instead I feel that on some level, in some parallel universe, or sadly in THIS universe, we ALL failed these dogs. We failed to realize the nature of this industry to periodically cull their dogs for business’ sake. We have failed to pull together as a society to be open and responding to their needs, we failed to help these babies.
Most rescues and shelters are full… and likely responded as such if/when they were approached by Outdoor Adventures Whistler. Would/could they have responded differently if they had realized the very real urgency here?
As we finally start to really embrace a more humane lifestyle for our animals — pets, farm animals and wildlife, we must make ourselves available to the situations we encounter and respond appropriately. Both the situations that we know of and those that will arise. We need to improve our animal welfare legislation. We need to stop animals from being categorized as mere property and respect their sentience. We need to create a more effective countrywide network of rescues and shelters so that people in trouble can more easily tap into this community of caregivers when they need help. We need to do it for the animals.
On April 23, 2010, the last of the sled dogs were killed. And not in a pretty or humane way. They died terrified.
On April 23, 2011 in many communities across the globe, people will be marching or gathering in vigil to the victims who were given no say about their very own lives, the ONE thing that truly is our own. It’s not too late to organize your own sled dog vigil — whether it is a march, a gathering in a park or even inviting your friends to join you in your backyard. In remembrance of these dogs, we MUST enact better legislation for the welfare of our animals. And we must enact stiffer penalties for animal abuse/cruelty.
And remember: Get out and vote. Reading a blog or carrying signs for the news cameras won’t change the world. Voting can.
More photos of Outdoor Adventure Whistler sled dogs | Thanks to Amie Wills for posting their photos
(click image above for a smile…)
On May 2nd, Canadians will elect a new government. Animals can’t speak or vote so we must be their voice. Help us send the message that animals matter!
Visit the WSPA’s (World Society for the Protection of Animals) Vote for Animals site to:
Here are a few things you can do to get more involved in campaigning to protect animals in your riding and across Canada.
Now is the time for us to unite our voices and do right for our animals.
Now is the time to speak for them.
Get out and vote. Reading a blog or carrying signs for the news cameras won’t change the world. Voting can.
In a letter to Sarah West, Founder and President of CFAWR — Canadians For Animal Welfare Reform, Peter Collins, a UK lawyer involved with charities and the media, applauds B.C.’s changes to its Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, including increasing penalties to as much as $75,000 and as long as 24 months imprisonment for the most serious offences. These changes come in the wake of the mass slaughter of sled dogs near Whistler last April 2010, Premier Christy Clark said.
As a lawyer in the UK involved with charities and the media, I was delighted to read your comments about the need to strengthen animal cruelty laws, a pleasant contrast to the dreadful publicity Canada usually receives due its abject failure to protect its animals. I hope you will also consider the following wider aspect when dealing with the legislation as it impacts upon people too.
There is huge evidence now that people/children who abuse and torture animals usually go on to abuse other people/children so it is vital that such people are properly punished, the punishments publicised widely, and put on an Animal Abusers Register, not only to protect animals but to protect children in the future. Parents of children who abuse animals need to be called to account for their feral offspring’s actions. Such cases of animal torture are on the increase, which means that violence to other people and children will escalate too. There is of course also an undeniable link between animal cruelty and domestic violence against women too.
Punishments meted out are usually pathetically lenient and many police forces fail to take it seriously leaving people and animals at risk in the future. This is not what your voters expect from its judicial system. It is very damaging to a country’s reputation if they fail to stamp this out.
Many studies in psychology, sociology, and criminology during the last 25 years have demonstrated that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescent histories of serious and repeated animal cruelty. If caught early in the violence cycle, perpetrators would be charged, arrested and dealt with before their violence escalates. Many serial killers, for example, have been documented as animal abusers and killers in their youth.
There is evidence now that people even witnessing violence towards animals (eg spectators of dog fighting,) often are shown to become violent towards other people, and for this reason the main TV station in Madrid have actually banned the broadcasting of bull fighting for this reason.
The latest indication of waning tolerance for the cruelty of bullfighting is the recent announcement by a Spanish broadcaster who is refusing to air bullfights on television, citing children as the reason for the ban. According to a New York Times article, the state broadcaster, RTVE, said Saturday that it would not broadcast bullfights due to the risk of exposing children to violence against animals.
Furthermore, with dog fighting, the dogs cause a severe danger to people as well. There have been thousands of cases all over the world where people, especially children, have been severely injured and killed by dogs trained to fight.
I wish you all the very best for what you are trying to do, and desperately hope you involve all of your Canada’s key governmental figures in the issue of animal welfare, namely to create and enforce strong animal welfare protection laws with proper penalties to protect domestic, farm and wild animals because through the media and internet all issues of animal suffering are discovered and publicised universally and millions of people all over the world, including my many Canadian friends, care deeply about animal welfare issues, as evidenced by the huge membership and wealth of many animal charities, and are connected on the internet, for example on social networking sites, and do not hesitate boycotting, and arranging boycotts, of tourism to countries, and a country’s goods, if it fails to protect its animals, and such boycotts have been very successful can cause severe damage at a time of economic crisis.
I know Canadian embassies all over the world have stated they receive more criticism on this than any other issue, and costs Canadian taxpayers millions every year. And look at the EU-wide ban on Canadian seal products!
Very best wishes.
Our kudos to B.C., too!
By SILVER DONALD CAMERON
Sun, Mar 6 – 4:53 AM
Another comment on Bev Oda and the garrotting of Kairos? Nope.
A reflection on the Harperites’ infatuation with harsh sentences and larger prisons? No.
Kyoto, Afghan detainees, the G20 repression, the flouting of the Supreme Court in the Omar Khadr case? Our humiliating defeat in the UN Security Council election? Could have been, but in fact it’s none of the above.
No, Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People, published in Clinton, Wash., is writing about the federal government’s denial of free speech to animal welfare charities in Canada. And he’s in touch with animal rights activists in China. He knows what they think.
“On February 5, 2011,” writes Clifton, the Canada Revenue Agency published “draft regulations governing animal charities which would ensure that any animal charity speaking out against anything that is not already illegal would lose nonprofit status.”
One specific example: the regulations make it clear that a Canadian animal charity would lose its charitable status if it opposed vivisection, which is the practice of operating on living animals in order to gain knowledge of pathological or physiological processes. A charity could suffer the same fate if it opposed the fur industry or the seal hunt.
In fact, says Clifton, the draft regulations provide “that an animal charity may only advocate policies and practices which benefit humans more than animals.”
Really? I hustled off to the CRA website. Sure enough, that’s exactly what the draft regulations say. The logic, if one can call it that, derives from British common law. The courts, says CRA, have determined that “an activity or purpose is only charitable when it provides a benefit to humans. For some purposes and activities, including those relieving the suffering of animals, the courts have decided that the benefit is the promotion of the moral or ethical development of the community.”
But don’t try to argue that supporting animal welfare is a good thing in and of itself. “Promoting the welfare of animals,” the CRA declares, “is only charitable when it results in a benefit to humans.”
“Promoting the welfare of animals,” the CRA declares, “is only charitable when it results in a benefit to humans.”
With respect to vivisection, says the CRA, the courts have decided that “seeking to abolish vivisection is not charitable. This is in part because, as the courts have put it, despite the suffering inflicted on animals, the ‘immense and incalculable benefits which have resulted from vivisection’ and the ‘positive and calamitous detriment of appalling magnitude’ that would result from its abolition, outweigh any possible promotion of the moral and ethical development of the community.”
The gaping flaw in the CRA’s argument, of course, is that it freezes — indeed, prevents — the evolution of the law. The law reflects the moral consensus of the community at a particular moment in time. When the consensus changes, the law must change as well. The law once decreed that women were chattels, slavery was fine, and petty theft warranted hanging. When society reversed its thinking on these matters, the law eventually reversed its position, too.
The CRA argues, in effect, that charitable purposes can only reflect the past — the decisions that the courts have already made. But the very phrase “the moral and ethical development of the community” concedes that moral and ethical attitudes evolve. That’s what the word “development” means. And if moral attitudes have evolved, then someone who demands corresponding changes in the law is very precisely “promoting the moral and ethical development of the community.”
A growing body of opinion now holds that we will not achieve our human potential — or even survive — unless we develop a respectful, ethical relationship with the rest of nature. The coyote, the cod and the chestnut have a right to live and flourish, and advocating on their behalf — with or without a benefit to humans — is a deeply moral activity and a legitimate charitable purpose.
Do the Harperites disagree? We’ll never know. They ignore ideas, and attack people instead. Lie about them. Impugn their motives. Cut their funding. Dissolve their organizations. Imprison them. Deny them charitable status.
“Canada is heading toward becoming an authoritarian state to an extent that surprises observers even in China.”
A chilling remark. I wish I could claim it was wrong.
Northwest Territories MLAs have passed new legislation that protects dogs from abuse, but the new law has an exemption that some say could be used as a loophole.
The N.W.T.’s previous Dog Act was based on legislation from the 1950s, when sled dogs were used for transportation. Changes to update the act were passed on Friday. (CBC)
A bill to update the Dog Act received assent on Friday, after it passed third reading in the territorial legislature.
The new legislation, which introduces tougher penalties for people who abuse or neglect dogs, replaces the previous Dog Act, which was based on laws dating to the 1950s.
Unlike animal legislation in southern Canada, the N.W.T.’s old Dog Act focused on dealing with sled dogs, which have been used for transportation in the North.
An earlier proposal by MLAs would have exempted owners from penalty if they caused distress to dogs while carrying out “traditional practices” such as dog-sledding and hunting.
That proposal sparked an outcry from animal-protection activists and others who said the term was vague and difficult to interpret.
The legislation was since changed so that the exemption applies “if the distress is caused by a treatment, process or condition that occurs in the course of an accepted activity.”
The act defines accepted activities to include the use of dogs to help with hunting, trapping, and protecting people from wildlife. (Read the new Dog Act here.)
An accepted activity must not cause a dog undue suffering, the legislation adds.
Yellowknife Frame Lake MLA Wendy Bisaro said Friday that while the new legislation is “far improved from what we had before,” she still had concerns about the exemption.
“I don’t feel that part of the bill is necessary,” Bisaro said in the legislature.
Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Robert McLeod said he does not believe the exemption will present a loophole for people accused of abusing their dogs.
“I don’t believe it’s a loophole,” McLeod told CBC News.
“If a guy goes up before a judge for cruelty to animals … where you leave 10 dogs outside starving to death, I don’t think he can use traditional practice as a loophole, because it’s not our traditional practice to leave dogs tied up outside and starving to death.”
McLeod added that longtime northerners who have used their dogs for traditional practices like sledding and hunting are among those who best look after their dogs.
Under the old Dog Act, those found guilty of a first offence were fined $25. The penalties for a first offence are now $2,500 or a three-month jail term or both.
Those found guilty of subsequent violations of the new Dog Act will be fined $10,000, handed a six-month jail term, or both.
From the Office of Mark Holland, M.P.
Official Opposition Critic for Public Safety
For immediate release: February 3, 2011
OTTAWA – Liberal MP and Public Safety Critic Mark Holland reached out to British Columbia Conservative MPs today, asking for their help to reform weak animal cruelty laws in light of news about a criminal investigation underway into the slaughter of one hundred dogs near Whistler, BC – a case that has shocked and outraged people across the country. Canada’s animal cruelty laws, as currently written, have loopholes that permit known abusers to evade justice after committing egregious acts of cruelty.
“These loopholes in our laws need to be closed at last,” wrote Holland in a letter to all twenty-one BC Conservative MPs.
Holland has had a private member’s bill to amend and strengthen the Criminal Code section dealing with animal cruelty crimes since 2004. Once a Liberal government justice bill, it is presently numbered C?229.
BC Conservative MPs were contacted because the dog slaughter, the nation’s latest high-profile animal cruelty case, had occurred in their home province.
“As government MPs representing British Columbia constituencies, I am hopeful that this tragic case that occurred in your home province will inspire you to work within your own party for real reforms now.”
Holland, as the Liberal Party’s Public Safety Critic, also raised public safety concerns in a bid to appeal to the Conservatives who claim a law and order agenda.
“A clear relationship exists between animal cruelty and other serious types of crimes, including spousal and child abuse, among other horrific violent crimes. By toughening our animal cruelty laws, we have a better chance of apprehending, convicting and rehabilitating abusers, making our communities safer and healthier.”
Holland has tried on several occasions to get the Harper government to take his bill and expedite it through all legislative stages. In 2009, following a horrific animal cruelty case in New Brunswick, he reached out to NB Tory MP Keith Ashfield, after hearing reports that the MP, who currently serves Minister of National Revenue, expressed an interest in Holland’s bill. Ashfield never responded to several calls made by Holland.
Assuaging concerns of partisanship, Holland stated in his letter that this “issue doesn’t fall into an ideological category. The cause for reforming our animal cruelty laws unites voters of both our parties, indeed all Canadians. It’s a real motherhood and apple pie issue.”
Holland closed off his letter appeal by inviting the BC Tory MPs to call him to discuss this issue further.
Full text of letter follows.
For more information:
Karl Maretic, Office of Mark Holland, MP
Dear [BC Colleagues],
Recent reports concerning the gruesome and senseless slaughter of one hundred husky dogs near Whistler, BC, remind us all that glaring loopholes persist in Canada’s Criminal Code that hinder the work of law enforcement and the courts to successfully prosecute and convict known perpetrators of serious acts of animal cruelty. In fact, only a tiny fraction – less than 1% – of serious animal abuse cases ever see a conviction; a problem that bill S?203 (2008) did nothing to remedy.
These loopholes in our laws need to be closed at last.
I am writing to you today to respectfully ask you to join me in advancing reasonable and responsible reforms to Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws. The fastest way to do this would be for the government to draft and expedite its own bill, based on the amendments proposed in my private member’s bill C-229. Let’s not wait for more horrific cruelty cases to surface before we do the right thing and get such a bill through Parliament.
Canadians want action to reform animal cruelty laws.
No other issue generates as much letters, phone calls and emails as animal cruelty does. I note that I have received thousands of communications from your constituents alone living in British Columbia, and I suspect you have too. This issue doesn’t fall into an ideological category. The cause for reforming our animal cruelty laws unites voters of both our parties, indeed all Canadians. It’s a real motherhood and apple pie issue.
It’s also a public safety issue. The facts bear this out.
A clear relationship exists between animal cruelty and other serious types of crimes, including spousal and child abuse, among other horrific violent crimes. By toughening our animal cruelty laws, we have a better chance of apprehending, convicting and rehabilitating abusers, making our communities safer and healthier.
Please consider the calls of countless Canadians, including your own constituents, who are sickened by senseless acts of cruelty, like the dog slaughter in B.C., and who are outraged by the state of our weak laws in Canada. As government MPs representing British Columbia constituencies, I am hopeful that this tragic case that occurred in your home province will inspire you to work within your own party for real reforms now.
I invite you to call me to discuss this further.
Mark Holland, MP for Ajax-Pickering,
Public Safety Critic for the Official Opposition
Read Mark’s press release