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Animal Justice Demands Animal Cruelty Investigation into Lethbridge Police Deer Killing Video

Animal Justice January 9, 2019

LETHBRIDGE – National animal law non-profit Animal Justice is calling for a criminal animal cruelty investigation into a disturbing video depicting a Lethbridge police officer repeatedly running over an injured deer with a police truck.

The video was taken by a concerned member of the public who was shocked to witness the officer’s actions. The witness reported that the officer ran over the deer at least five or six times before the deer died. The deer can be heard shrieking loudly in the video, and the witness described being upset and disturbed at hearing the deer’s cries.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating—a provincial police watchdog agency. In addition to investigating police misconduct offences, ASIRT is empowered to lay criminal animal cruelty charges against police officers. Animal Justice believes a full investigation is required to determine whether the officer should face criminal charges for the brutal and prolonged deer torture and killing.

“Animal cruelty is a very serious criminal offence, and there is little doubt that this poor deer suffered immensely while the officer repeatedly ran her over with a heavy truck. It is heartbreaking to watch the video and hear her crying out in pain as she was struck by the vehicle over and over again,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “ASIRT must investigate this disturbing incident with a view to determining whether criminal animal cruelty charges should be laid. Police officers are not above the law. On the contrary, they are sworn to uphold the law. For that reason, animal abuse of this nature by a police officer is particularly disturbing and must be taken very seriously.”

Alberta’s provincial Animal Protection Act requires that an officer who finds a distressed animal must take steps to relieve the animal’s distress, including by seeking help from a humane society or caretaker. The animal can be euthanized on the advice of a veterinarian, but a police officer cannot make the decision to euthanize an animal on their own unless a veterinarian is unavailable.

There is no public information indicating that the officer sought assistance, advice, or an examination from a veterinarian or wildlife official. Moreover, running an animal over with a vehicle is never an acceptable way to euthanize an injured animal.

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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Government (Finally) Moves to Close Bestiality Loophole

Animal Justice October 18, 2018

After a courtroom showdown and years of advocacy by Animal Justice, the federal government finally introduced legislation today to close Canada’s bestiality loophole. The new law also strengthens animal fighting offences. Animal Justice welcomes this news, but believes it is still not enough. The legislation still fails to deliver more comprehensive reform to Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws.

Over two years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that most forms of bestiality are not illegal under existing animal cruelty laws. Animal Justice intervened in the case to fight bestiality, and urged the federal government to take immediate action to update the laws once the shocking decision was released.

Yet it took years to see action. In 2016, the Liberal government killed a bill introduced by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith that would have updated Canada’s archaic animal cruelty laws and addressed bestiality. The public was outraged, and in response government officials promised to launch broad consultations and improve the animal cruelty laws.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel introduced a private member’s bill to address bestiality in 2017, and sponsored a parliamentary petition started by Animal Justice that gathered thousands of signatures. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Canadians have contacted the government, seeking stronger laws.

Although the government has finally taken action, Animal Justice believes that animals deserve far more than what they got. Canada still has some of the worst animal cruelty laws in the western world, and this legislation does nothing to change that. Surprisingly, the new laws don’t even give courts the ability to ban bestiality offenders from owning animals in the future, leaving vulnerable animals at risk of ongoing sexual abuse.

In the news release announcing the law, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould emphasized that the bill wouldn’t interfere with “farming, hunting, and trapping practices,” suggesting the government continues to listen to animal-use industries that profit from animal cruelty, rather than listening to the overwhelming majority of Canadians that support strengthening animal cruelty laws.

Animal Justice will push for changes to the new legislation to ensure those convicted of bestiality cannot own animals in the future, and will continue to fight for an overhaul of Canada’s last-century animal cruelty laws.

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Bestiality Bill Fails to Deliver on Promise to Fix Outdated Animal Cruelty Laws

Animal Justice October 18, 2018

OTTAWA – The federal government today introduced Bill C-84, legislation to close legal loopholes related to bestiality and animal fighting. Animal Justice supports the spirit of the amendments, but is deeply concerned that the legislation still fails to deliver on government promises to reform Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws.

Most forms of bestiality in Canada have been considered legal since June 2016, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in R. v. D.L.W. that only penetrative sexual acts with animals count as bestiality. The ruling left animals disturbingly vulnerable to sexual abuse. Animal Justice intervened in R. v. D.L.W., and after the decision called on the government to immediately introduce amendments to outlaw all bestiality.

Meanwhile, Canada’s criminal animal cruelty provisions are a century out of date, regularly resulting in animal abusers escaping criminal prosecution for sadistic cruelty. Two years ago, the government voted down legislation that would have modernized animal cruelty laws and brought them into line with modern values, including closing the bestiality loophole. (The legislation, Bill C-246, was introduced as a private member’s bill by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, but was first drafted by the Liberal government in the late 1990s).

In December 2017, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel introduced a private member’s bill to close the bestiality loophole.

“The Liberal government set Canada back by decades when they voted down animal cruelty legislation. At the time, they promised to embark on broad consultations and comprehensive reform of our outdated animal cruelty laws,” said Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “Disappointingly, the new legislation only contains very minor measures related to bestiality and animal fighting. These provisions are welcome, but they should have been introduced as part of a larger package of desperately-needed animal cruelty reforms.

“Animal Justice will seek amendments to Bill C-84, as it does not currently give judges the ability to ban bestiality offenders from owning animals in the future—something that is standard for other animal cruelty offences under the Criminal Code.”

“Closing bestiality and animal fighting loopholes is literally the least this government could have done, and still leaves millions of animals in Canada out in the cold. The new law is remarkable for its narrow scope, and for the unacceptable length of time it took to be introduced. Canadians overwhelmingly support stronger animal cruelty laws, and it is shocking that the government has done so little to modernize our severely outdated laws. Why has it taken over two years and two private member’s bills to convince the government to act on bestiality? Where are the broader animal cruelty updates promised by the Liberal government?”

Canada’s animal cruelty laws have not been substantively updated since the 1950s and are considered among the worst in the western world. The new government legislation does nothing to change this.

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Bill C-84 can be downloaded here.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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