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Vancouver Aquarium Forced to Give Up On Whale & Dolphin Captivity

Animal Justice January 18, 2018

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Aquarium announced today that it would give up on its decades-long fight to continue to imprison and display whales and dolphins in tiny tanks.

Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice, issued the following statement.

“The Vancouver Aquarium appears to have finally accepted that whale and dolphin captivity is no longer socially acceptable in Canada. Today’s announcement is a tremendous victory for the thousands of compassionate citizens who stood up against the cruel practice of keeping smart, sentient whales and dolphins imprisoned in tiny tanks.

“But the Aquarium’s new position comes extremely late in the game. For decades, the Aquarium has fought tooth and nail against attempts to restrict or prohibit whale and dolphin captivity at its facility. The Aquarium is now backing down from this fight, but only after years of being the target of protests, being embroiled in lawsuits, and hit with a ban on cetacean captivity imposed by Vancouver’s Park Board.

“The writing is on the wall for the whale and dolphin captivity industry. We are relieved that no more cetaceans will suffer and die at the Aquarium.”

The Aquarium recently lost a court case seeking to silence filmmaker Gary Charbonneau and his critical documentary Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered.

The Aquarium is still suing the Park Board in an attempt to overturn the anti-captivity by-law, claiming it restricts the Aquarium’s freedom of expression. Animal Justice intervened in that case, which has already been heard. The judge in that case is expected to issue a ruling shortly.

A bill moving through the Canadian Senate would impose a nation-wide ban on keeping whales and dolphins in captivity. It is expected to be voted on when Parliament resumes later this month.

Meanwhile, several whales and dolphins recently died at the Aquarium, including beluga whales Qila and Aurora in late 2016, porpoise Daisy in June, 2017, and false killer whale Chester in November, 2017. The only surviving cetacean at the Aquarium is a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Helen.

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

 

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Canadians Just Forced the Government to Address Animal Welfare in Slaughter Laws

Animal Justice January 15, 2018

Last year, we told you that the federal government is overhauling Canada’s decades-old slaughter regulations as part of a food safety modernization initiative. We told you that in the entire introduction to the update (over 22,000 words), animal protection wasn’t even mentioned once.

We explained the many ways that the proposed slaughter rules would permit inhumane treatment of animals. We submitted a detailed critique to the government, and mobilized you, our supporters, to do the same.

We’re pleased to tell you that the government has heard us. In the recently issued ‘What We Heard Report‘, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) identified a lack of attention to animal welfare as a key theme that emerged from the public consultation period.

According to the CFIA, 1717 written submissions were received, many of which “supported further strengthening the proposed animal welfare requirements, including a petition signed by Canadians in support of recommendations for more humane treatment of animals.”

In particular, “more precise training protocols, and specific and stronger language were requested for the humane treatment of animals prior to, and during, slaughter.” The CFIA will now revisit the draft regulations, taking this feedback into account.

Our specific criticisms of the draft slaughter regulations were:

  • live-hanging of birds (who represent 97 percent of animals killed for food in Canada) is still allowed, even though this method is known to cause horrific pain and fear to the sensitive creatures.
  • they fail to address the well-documented margin of error on fast-moving slaughter lines—many animals are improperly stunned and drowned, scalded, or skinned alive.
  • sentient aquatic animals like fishes, crustaceans, and octopuses are entirely excluded from slaughter rules.
  • non-stun (ritual) slaughter continues to be permitted, even though it’s opposed by veterinary and animal welfare organizations around the world.
  • cruel electric prods continue to be permitted.
  • government inspectors aren’t required to always be on-site during slaughter.
  • the proposed rules use are difficult to enforce due to vague wording. For example, instead of setting out exactly how much space each animal should have, they simply require animals to have “sufficient space.”
  • the agriculture industry will be allowed to define values claims such as “free range,” even though these marketing terms are deliberately used to mislead consumers.

Thank you to the countless compassionate animal advocates who spoke up! Sometimes it can feel discouraging to fight against the billion-dollar animal agriculture industry, which has the ear of government officials and often gets its way. But we have justice and compassion on our side, and together, we are making a difference for animals. Our voices are starting to be heard, and those voices will only get louder in the years to come—all thanks to you.

We’ll keep you updated on the next steps in forcing the government to take animal protection seriously in its regulatory updates. 

To help, please sign up to our mailing list and stay tuned for ways to get involved.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur /Djurrattsalliansen

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Animals Are Freezing To Death on Canadian Slaughter Trucks Right Now

Animal Justice January 5, 2018

Canada is experiencing an especially frigid winter, with temperatures feeling as low as -40° C even in southern parts of the country like Toronto.

Many people will ride out this cold snap in the comfort of their homes, or bundle up if they must face the frosty outdoors. Environment Canada issues extreme cold weather alerts to protect people from frostbite, cities open up warming centres for homeless individuals, and schools even cancel outdoor recess periods when the temperature plummets.

But for the millions of chickens, pigs, and cows trucked to slaughterhouses everyday in Canada, it’s business as usual—even in frigid extremes.

Canadian animal transport slaughter truck slaughterhouse livestock

Animals are routinely transported to slaughter in open-sided vehicles, with no heating systems to protect them from the dangerous cold.

Canada’s animal transport laws are among the weakest in the western world, and there are no restrictions that lay out minimum or maximum temperatures in which animals can be transported. In brutally cold weather, animals routinely arrive at slaughter frostbitten or even dead from weather exposure. Workers at Canada’s largest slaughterhouse, Maple Lodge Farms, which kills half a million chickens every day, have described chickens arriving to slaughter, frozen solid like “hockey pucks” and “popsicles”. Government statistics show at least 1.59 million animals arriving dead at slaughterhouses every year.

Canada’s outdated transport laws haven’t been revised since the 1970s, and a recent proposal by the federal government to update the rules still fails to restrict animal transport during extreme weather, or require climate control for trucks.

Existing transport laws are ineffectively enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and even when investigations and prosecutions do take place, penalties are not strong enough to motivate industry to protect animals from the cold. Maple Lodge Farms, for example, has been repeatedly convicted and fined for allowing animals to freeze to death, yet still operates using the same inadequate trucks.

In 2018, Animal Justice will continue to fight archaic transport laws, and to protect millions of animals from the extreme suffering they endure on Canadian farms.

To help, please sign up to our mailing list and stay tuned for ways to get involved.

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