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Animal Justice Troubled by Animal Cruelty Charges Against City of Edmonton

Animal Justice October 26, 2018

EDMONTON – National animal law non-profit Animal Justice is deeply troubled by animal cruelty charges laid earlier this month against the City of Edmonton after the deaths of three cats.

According to news reports, the City of Edmonton, the director of the city’s Animal Care and Control Centre, and three other staff are all facing charges under the provincial Animal Welfare Act of allowing an animal to be in distress. The charges carry a maximum fine of $20,000 and a lifetime ban on having custody of an animal.

The charges allegedly stem from an incident that took place on May 18, 2018. According to news reports, three cats were transported in a rubbermaid container and subsequently died. Several months later, in July, the Alberta SPCA received a complaint over the incident. The Alberta SPCA apparently laid charges on October 5, and the accused will appear in court on December 12.

“It’s incredibly disturbing that a government agency entrusted with helping vulnerable animals is now facing very serious charges for harming three cats,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “We are troubled that while the City held a press conference on Thursday afternoon, it refused to elaborate on the circumstances that led to the cats’ dying.”

“It is relatively rare for such a large group of individuals to face charges, including the City and management,” said professor Peter Sankoff, law professor at the University of Alberta and a director with Animal Justice. “There are many unanswered questions, and the public urgently deserves more information about the details of this incident. Was this a systemic issue? What happened between May, when the incident occurred, and July, when the Alberta SPCA received an independent complaint? What type of internal investigation was conducted and who was notified? Why did the public not learn of this incident sooner?”

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For more information, contact:

Peter Sankoff
Board of Directors, Animal Justice
Professor of Law, University of Alberta
psankoff@ualberta.ca

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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Animal Justice

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Authorities Investigate Footage of Pigs Crammed in Sweltering Manitoba Transport Truck

Animal Justice August 3, 2018

BRANDON, MB—The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is investigating potential animal protection law violations after viewing footage showing pigs crammed into a transport truck, pushed together and climbing on top of each other, on a sweltering day in July. The footage was captured outside the Maple Leaf Foods pig slaughterhouse in Brandon, Manitoba by members of Manitoba Animal Save, who also recorded the temperature inside the truck at nearly 40 degrees Celsius.

“It was heartbreaking to see the animals crammed in next to each other in such unbearable heat,” said Cheryl Sobie, an organizer with Manitoba Animal Save. “Some animals were panting and foaming at the mouth, which we know means they’re heat-stressed. Others seemed to have given up. If this were a truck full of dogs, people would rightfully be outraged. There’s no reason not to extend the same consideration to pigs, who are equally sentient. Sadly, our group regularly documents farmed animals in similar conditions, leading us to believe it’s common across the country.”

“Federal law prohibits crowding animals in transport, and guidelines indicate that animals must be given even more space on hot days,” said Anna Pippus, an animal rights lawyer for the animal law non-profit Animal Justice. “However, animal protection laws in Canada are weak, vague, and under-enforced. This is a case in point. Business-as-usual in Canada’s animal farming system is in desperate need of an overhaul. Government must hold transporters accountable for routinely putting profit and convenience ahead of the basic needs of the vulnerable animals in their care.”

Pigs don’t have sweat glands and have no way to cool themselves in sweltering weather aboard unventilated metal trucks. Transport trucks aren’t equipped with fans or water sprinklers, but pigs are transported every day of the year regardless of weather.

Canada’s animal transport laws haven’t been updated in four decades and have been criticized by experts as being the worst in the western world. Pigs can be trucked for up to 36 hours without a break for rest, food or water. Government data show that in 2017, over 14,000 pigs arrived at slaughterhouses dead, having died en route.

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The footage can be seen here.

For more information, contact:

Cheryl Sobie
manitobaanimalsave@gmail.com

Anna Pippus
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
apippus@animaljustice.ca

 

 

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Animal Justice

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