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Animal Justice Seeks External Investigation After Cats Left in Vehicle for 22 Days by Edmonton Humane Society

Animal Justice June 5, 2018

EDMONTON – National animal law organization Animal Justice is seeking an independent external investigation into an incident that occurred at the Edmonton Humane Society. According to a statement issued by the Humane Society, it left three cats in a transport vehicle for 22 days between March 27 and April 18. When they were discovered, the cats were dehydrated, starving, and suffering from urine burns on their paws. They survived.

The incident appears to contravene the provincial Animal Protection Act, which prohibits causing distress to animals, and requires that animals be provided with adequate food, water, and shelter. The Animal Protection Act is a regulatory statute, meaning liability for a violation is assumed without proof that the person intended the consequences.

“No one doubts the Edmonton Humane Society’s commitment to animal protection, and their regret over this incident,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “However, serious questions remain. The Edmonton Humane Society is responsible for investigating animal neglect. It is an obvious conflict of interest for the Humane Society to investigate itself over an apparent violation of the laws it enforces. An external agency, such as the police, must be called in immediately to investigate and determine whether charges should be laid.”

“When police forces are alleged to have committed illegal acts, it is standard practice for external agencies to investigate to ensure investigative independence and police accountability. This serious incident requires much more than the private internal review that was conducted.

“More broadly, this incident highlights the troubling lack of public accountability when it comes to the enforcement of animal protection laws. Humane societies and SPCAs are private charities, yet are tasked with enforcing public laws with little oversight. In no other area of law enforcement does this model still exist.”

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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The End of Iditarod and Canada’s Complicity in Sled Dog Cruelty

Animal Justice March 19, 2018

This is a guest post from Fern Levitt, the award-winning documentary filmmaker behind Sled Dogs, the first film to expose the brutal reality of the dogsled racing and tourism industry.

March 3, 2018 marked the start of the 46th annual Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska, and I was there at the ceremonial start. Not as a filmmaker embarking on another documentary, but to stand with others in protest of this “last great race”.

The lavish opening ceremony is in sharp contrast to the humble beginnings of the race itself: In 1925 teams of sled dogs and mushers transported a life saving serum over 1000 miles to the remote village of Nome, a town inflicted with an outbreak of diphtheria. Despite sub-zero temperatures and gale force winds, the teams of sled dogs made the route in record time and the entire town was saved. The mushers and dogs were considered heroes and celebrated throughout the United States.

The Iditarod began in 1973 as a race to commentate the 1925 Serum Run. It retraces the very same route and has become the biggest sporting event in Alaska, bringing thousands of tourist dollars to the town of Anchorage.

Mushers boast of their love for the canines and say they consider these dogs super athletes and beloved members of their family.

But in recent years, reports of animal abuse, infighting and dog-doping scandals have shattered the myth of a noble partnership between musher and dog. Sponsors have dropped out, no longer willing to be associated with rumours of animal cruelty.

My personal relationship with the Iditarod started quite unexpectedly in 2010 when my husband and I went dogsledding in Northern Ontario.

When our two-day trip was over, we went looking for where the dogs lived. Down the road we were stunned to find a field of more than 200 dogs, living in what I considered to be heartbreaking conditions.

Over two hundred dogs, many running endlessly in circles, lived at the end of a chain. They had plastic barrels or dilapidated wooden shacks as their only shelter against freezing temperatures. Some of the dogs’ ribs showed through their emaciated, filthy bodies. Some dogs barked furiously to get our attention, others sat quietly with downcast eyes and tails between their legs. It was the one of the most quiet, passive dogs that we chose to take home with us that very day—our beloved dog Slater, who at nine years old, had lived on a chain his entire life.

It was because of Slater that I, as a journalist, felt compelled to make a documentary about the Iditarod, the world’s most famous sled dog race. For over a year my film crew and I followed an Iditarod rookie musher, who trained and raced two-year-old dogs for champion musher Mitch Seavey, (who recently has been accused of dog abuse by his former handler, Jane Stevens).

The sled dogs in Alaska live under similar conditions as the sled dogs in Canada—hundreds of them tied to chains with plastic barrels as shelter. The dogs spend most of their time alone on the chain except when on training runs for 40 to 80 miles and more each day, preparing for the race.

What we documented as a film crew was not a unique breed of canine athletes, as racers often claim. What we saw were thin, frightened dogs who cowered when examined by the Iditarod’s veterinarians during the race. We saw dogs with severe dehydration and exhaustion.

Over 150 dogs have died since the inception of the Iditarod, yet every year the race continues. Many more are killed—including puppies who are drowned or otherwise disposed of—because they don’t make the grade or the mushers can’t afford to keep so many dogs. Shockingly, culling healthy dogs is not illegal in Alaska (or the rest of the United States and Canada), as dogs are considered property and killing them is the right of their owners. Meanwhile, compassionate people understand that dogs are sentient beings with emotions and intelligence, capable of feeling pain and stress, or happiness and joy. Our laws must catch up to societal attitudes.

So I went back to Anchorage to stand in hope that the chains will finally be broken. There is now speculation that the Iditarod, the last great race, just might be coming to a shattering end, hounded by animal cruelty and doping scandals.

Here at home, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the public and our lawmakers to ignore the vast suffering that is endemic to the Canadian sled dog industry. From the Whistler sled dog massacre, to the sickening video footage earlier this year from Windrift Adventures in Ontario, to the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest race, people are seeing the dark side of this industry. Please take action today—call on our politicians to help the thousands of dogs used in Canada’s own dogsledding industry. Dogs deserve so much better than the misery of life on a chain.

 

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In Canada It’s Legal to Kill and Eat Your Pets

Animal Justice February 23, 2018

Shock and outrage is spreading across Canada after news reports revealed that a B.C. couple butchered and ate a potbelly pig whom they adopted from the local SPCA.

Molly, the potbelly pig, was rescued by the Cowichan & District branch of the BC SPCA as part of a cruelty investigation, and eventually regained her health thanks to their care. Molly was adopted by the couple in January, but less than a month later the couple killed and ate her, posting Snapchat photos and videos of them seasoning her flesh while preparing to consume her.

In the wake of this appalling news, many people are demanding justice for Molly and asking for charges to be laid. Tragically, it’s not illegal to kill and eat pets in Canada.  A person who owns an animal can legally kill and eat that animal. It may come as a shock to many people to learn that this includes not just the 771 million farmed animals killed every year, but even dogs, cat, potbelly pigs, and other lawfully owned companion animals.

Canada’s animal cruelty laws are considered the worst in the Western world. It’s not illegal to kill and eat a companion animal. Rather, the law prohibits causing unnecessary suffering to animals, or killing them in a way that results in distress. But killing a companion animal quickly, in a way that minimizes distress, is not generally illegal.

Despite the horror and discomfort that many people feel about companion animals being killed and eaten for dinner, Members of Parliament voted in 2016 to kill Bill C-246, which would have updated Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws and outlawed cat and dog meat.

If you believe the law should treat Molly and other animals like sentient individuals, instead of property that can be killed and eaten, please take action by signing our Animal Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 

 

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  • Evie

    by on May 4, 2018 - 0 Comments

    I've had a crazy week. I was picked up by some SCARS volunteers during a Spay Neuter Return pick up. You see, I was a stray that some nice people were feeding and trying to care for but I was not eating and refused to come inside so they asked for help. The SCARS volunteers Second Chance Animal Rescue Society

  • Loki (formerly Trip)

    by on May 4, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Hi, SCARS! I adopted Legolas through SCARS five years ago, and there hasn’t been a dull moment since!  Last month we added Trip (now Loki) to the family. Lego is very excited to have someone to play with now, and he and Loki are having a lot of fun together! I’m so grateful to SCARS Second Chance Animal Rescue Society

  • Jade’s Story

    by on April 29, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Just look at my fat little babies!! They are a pretty amazing crew that almost didn’t happen! You see, I was hit by a car just days before they were born and by some absolute miracle they weren’t harmed. I can’t quite say the same about myself. Though nothing is broken, I will need more Second Chance Animal Rescue Society

  • Max (Formerly Bullet)

    by on May 8, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Hi SCARS! We wanted to give you an update on Max (formerly Bullet). We celebrated his 1st birthday today and his 3 month anniversary of being with us. He is the perfect addition! He loves to cuddling and going for walks. He could entertain himself with his Kong for hours and has a blast running Second Chance Animal Rescue Society

  • Animal Justice Will Intervene in Lawsuit Challenging Ontario Animal Protection Laws

    by on April 23, 2018 - 0 Comments

    PERTH—National animal law non-profit Animal Justice has been granted intervener status in a lawsuit that attempts to strike down key aspects of provincial animal welfare laws and their enforcement. The case, Bogaerts v. Attorney General of Ontario, is a constitutional challenge to Ontario’s provincial animal welfare legislation and its enforcement. Specifically, the applicant is asking the court... Read more » Animal Justice

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