UK lawyer responds to B.C.’s new animal protection legislation

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.

Dear Madam,

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.

Peter Collins

Our kudos to B.C., too!

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