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Canadians Protest Cruel Farm Animal Transportation Practices on Global Day of Action

Animal Justice August 29, 2016

VANCOUVER, CALGARY, TORONTO — Animal advocates held demonstrations across the country on Monday to condemn Canada’s outdated farmed animal transportation rules, which subject animals to brutal and often fatal conditions. The events are part of an international day of action with more than 70 cities participating, from Tanzania to Indonesia to Buenos Aires.

Last week, a criminal trial began in Burlington, Ontario for animal activist Anita Krajnc, who gave water to dehydrated pigs aboard a transport truck. She has been charged with criminal mischief for interfering with the farmer’s “property”—the pigs. Part of her defence is that Canada’s transport laws are outdated and under-enforced. The case is receiving significant international media coverage.

Canada’s transport regulations are decades old, lagging behind all other Western countries. Animals are exposed to extreme weather, shocked with electric prods, and trucked long distances without food, water, or rest. Some animals suffocate or are injured from the intense crowding. Drivers aren’t required to have any animal welfare or handling training.

The demonstrations are being held on Monday, August 29th:

  • Toronto: Intersection of Yonge and Dundas, S.W. corner, 1 – 3 p.m. (Event link.)
  • Calgary: Harry Hays Government Building, 2240 4th Avenue S.E., 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. (Event link.) Note: this event will focus on live horse export from Calgary to Japan.
  • Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby Street, 12 – 1 p.m. (Event link.)

Former Canadian Food Inspection Agency veterinarian Dr. Maureen Harper says: “Canadian farm animal transport regulations are woefully inadequate and outdated. And unfortunately, there are too many instances in which existing regulations are not being enforced. As a result, far too many animals are forced to endure needless suffering during transport.

Lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice, says: “Canada’s decades-old transport regulations are the worst in the Western world and a national disgrace. The federal government is responsible for 750 million vulnerable farmed animals each year, yet it inexplicably refuses to update the welfare regulations or ensure compliance with the weak laws we do have.”

The Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals has initiated a Parliamentary petition, sponsored by Liberal MP Alexandra Mendès, calling for the Minister of Agriculture to modernize Canada’s transport regulations. So far it has garnered five thousand signatures.

In 2014, CTV’s W5 aired secretly recorded footage showing animals being beaten and kicked by transport personnel, injured animals being shocked with electric prods, and animals so crowded they were forced to climb on top of each other. Federal law enforcement agents were present but failed to act.

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For more information about Canada’s outdated transportation regulations and how they stack up to those of the European Union, please see here and here.

These events are being coordinated as part of Compassion in World Farming’s Not Freight global day of action. For more information, please visit the event site at www.NotFreight.org.

Contacts:

TORONTO
Stephanie Brown, director, Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals
info@humanefood.ca

CALGARY
Maureen Hurly, organizer, Canadians Against Live Export
mhy88@shaw.ca

Dr. Maureen Harper, veterinarian
dr.maureenharper@gmail.com

VANCOUVER
Anna Pippus, lawyer and director of farmed animal advocacy, Animal Justice
apippus@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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Public Comments Needed on Draft Code of Practice for Chickens Used for Eggs

Animal Justice August 11, 2016

By Anna Pippus, J.D., director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice

Cover photo by Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals.

The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) has released its draft code of practice for the care and handling of chickens used by the egg industry. Our government doesn’t regulate animal agriculture, choosing instead to fund the industry’s creation of its own codes of practice. Although these codes of practice aren’t enforced, they are the closest thing to we have to on-farm rules, and have actual and potential legal significance.

NFACC is currently accepting comments from the public on its draft code of practice for egg-laying hens before it releases the final version later this year. We encourage everyone to take a moment to provide feedback; even if our feedback isn’t heeded, it’s important to make it evident that the public is paying attention and is concerned by rampant cruelty in the industry (which occurs even when best practices are followed). Comments are due August 29th. We have identified some specific concerns with the draft code below.

It’s worth pointing out that, from the beginning, the code of practice process is tainted by conflicts of interest and a lack of credibility; the codes are created by industry, for industry. For example, the “Scientific Committee”—which is supposed to provide an unbiased review of the scientific literature—contained Bernadette Cox, who is not a scientist, from the Egg Farmers of Canada. On her LinkedIn profile she writes that she edited the scientific review prior to its public release. The token veterinarian on the code development committee, Mike Petrik, has defended poultry industry cruelty that eventually resulted in an animal cruelty conviction. Other members on the committee are similarly closely tied with or funded by the industry. As such, both the scientific review and the draft code of practice should be viewed with some degree of skepticism.

Likely the largest concern shared by many animal advocates is that the draft code doesn’t eliminate cages. Instead, it suggests that cages be made larger and equipped with some rudimentary furnishings, like perches, to meet some of the basic hens’ biological needs. Vancouver Humane Society has a good summary of the concerns with so-called furnished cages.

Furnished cages. Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

In furnished cages, hens still spend their entire lives crowded, bored, stressed, and uncomfortable. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

However, it’s important to be aware that none of the proposed systems are without significant welfare concerns; cage-fee hens are crowded, kept in unnaturally large groups leading to stress and aggression, at a greater risk for disease, exposed to poor air quality, and still denied most things—like going outside—that make life enjoyable.

Some specific concerns with the draft code of practice:

The draft code doesn’t require birds have safe and regular access to pasture and/or the outdoors.

The draft code allows birds to live on wire flooring instead of litter. If producers voluntarily use litter, the draft code doesn’t require soiled litter to be replaced except between flocks (longer than a year!)

Wire flooring is uncomfortable and causes painful injuries and deformities. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Wire flooring is uncomfortable and causes painful injuries and deformities. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

The space allowed for each bird is miniscule. They will be so crowded that they will barely be able to express natural behaviours like stretching their wings. Worse, the space allocated is considered a recommendation, rather than a requirement—meaning birds can be even more crowded.

Chickens would naturally live in small social groupings with a defined pecking order that maintains peace and calm. The draft code doesn’t cap flock sizes; tens of thousands of birds may live together. As with other animals, like cats and even humans, chickens find large crowds chaotic and stressful.

In a natural setting, hens would peep to their chicks before they’re hatched, communicating and establishing a bond. After hatching, chicks would stay close to their mothers, finding comfort and protection, and learning skills. The draft code is entirely silent on natural social groupings, assuming and permitting that chicks will be hatched in hatcheries where they will never meet their mothers, find comfort, or learn important life skills.

The draft code doesn’t require natural lighting or sufficient periods of dark for rest.

Dust-bathing is how chickens clean their feathers (the dust clings to oil and is shaken off), which not only keeps them clean and satisfies their strong biological urge to dust-bathe, but also maintains feather insulation and eliminates parasites. Despite its importance, the draft code doesn’t require it for all birds, saying it is “difficult to accommodate in some housing systems.”

Although hens prefer small, private nests, the draft code allows large communal nests.

Like us, chickens enjoy a varied diet and are biologically compelled to seek this out. The draft code doesn’t require access to a varied or even a palatable diet.

The draft code permits chickens having their beaks cut off without painkillers, which can lead to both acute and chronic pain.

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Hens use their beaks for eating, foraging, preening, and more. Amputating their beaks causes numerous problems. Photo: Temara Brown

The draft code permits workers to dangle chickens upside down—despite that this is a well-documented stressor—instead of carrying them upright. In fact, that draft code even acknowledges that chickens find being upside down stressful, yet doesn’t prohibit it. The draft code also doesn’t require workers to set hens down on their feet.

Animal Justice

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Animal Justice Files False Advertising Complaint Over Shrine Circus Elephant Ad

Animal Justice August 3, 2016

TORONTO – Animal law advocacy organization Animal Justice filed a false advertising complaint today over misleading ads by the Shrine Circus appearing on Toronto Transit Commission vehicles.

The transit ads promote the Shrine Circus’ 2016 summer “Spectac!” tour in Southwestern Ontario and the GTA, and feature the image of an elephant in the midst of a circus performance, representing explicitly to ad viewers that elephant acts will be present in Shrine Circus shows. In reality, there will be no elephant performances this year; the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) cancelled permits on April 21, 2016 for two endangered Asian elephants named Shelley and Marie to be transported to from the U.S. to Canada for use in the Shrine Circus.

The cancellations come after Tarzan Zerbini, the U.S.-based circus contractor that provides elephant acts to the Shrine Circus, was found to have fallen far short of its promised financial contribution to elephant conservation, which was a condition of permits being issued in the first place. The investigation into Tarzan Zerbini’s verifiable contributions was prompted by a U.S. lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The Animal Justice complaint was filed today with Advertising Standards Canada, a national advertising self-regulatory body that hears and adjudicates complaints over false and misleading advertisements.

“The Shrine Circus ads deliberately mislead the public and conceal the truth, which is that elephants won’t be forced to perform in Canada this year,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “Shrine Circus contractor Tarzan Zerbini failed to meet even the minimal standards in place for permits to export these endangered Asian elephants. Rather than clinging to exploitative and outdated elephant performances, it’s time for the Shrine Circus to follow in the footsteps of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, which finally abandoned elephant acts for good this year.”

There is a growing public sentiment that it is unacceptable to confine elephants in zoos and force them to perform in circuses. Most Canadian zoos and many American zoos have sent their elephants to sanctuaries, including the Toronto Zoo, recognizing that elephants have complex social and behavioural needs that cannot be met in captivity.

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Animal Justice’s complaint to Advertising Standards Canada can be read here.

A high-resolution image of the misleading transit ad can be downloaded here.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

 

Animal Justice

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