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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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Animal Protection Groups Ask to Intervene in Vancouver Aquarium Lawsuit

Animal Justice August 16, 2017

VANCOUVER – Animal Justice and Zoocheck are seeking leave at the British Columbia Supreme Court to intervene in the Vancouver Aquarium’s lawsuit against the Vancouver Park Board. The Aquarium is suing in an attempt to overturn the bylaw banning the Aquarium from confining whales, dolphins, and porpoises in its facility in Stanley Park.

Animal Justice is a national animal law non-profit that leads the legal fight for animals in Canada. Zoocheck is a Canadian-based international charity that works to protect wild animals in captivity and in the wild. The two organizations filed a joint intervention application this week.

Animal Justice and Zoocheck are deeply troubled by the Aquarium’s legal arguments, in particular the claim that its practice of confining cetaceans in captivity is a form of expression protected under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If confining animals in captivity is found to be a constitutionally-protected form of expression, there could be drastic consequences for animals. It would become difficult, if not impossible, to pass laws protecting animals from being confined as those laws would be vulnerable to legal challenge.

If granted leave to intervene, Animal Justice and Zoocheck will submit to the court that the capture, captivity, and confinement of cetaceans should not be considered ‘expression’. The organizations rely on well-established case law stating that expression that is violent or is connected with violence is not protected by section 2(b) of the Charter. Capturing and confining whales and dolphins are forms of violence, in that they involve the coercion and involuntary captivity of living beings who have complex thought, the ability to suffer, and the capacity for self-determination. Confining cetaceans has been shown to cause significant physical and psychological harm to them.

“The Aquarium’s freedom of expression claim in this troubling lawsuit could permanently undermine animal protection laws right across Canada,” said Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice.  “We hope to have an opportunity to explain this to the court.”

Animal Justice and Zoocheck are represented by lawyers Arden Beddoes of Farris Vaugh Wils & Murphy LLP, and Benjamin Oliphant of Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP.

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The Animal Justice and Zoocheck application to intervene can be downloaded here.

The Aquarium’s petition can be downloaded here.

The Parks Board’s response to the petition can be downloaded here.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director, Animal Justice
camille@animaljustice.ca

Julie Woodyer
Campaigns Director
julie@zoocheck.com

Animal Justice

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EXPOSED: Filth and Fraud in the Canadian Meat Industry

Animal Justice August 5, 2017

The Canadian meat industry did NOT have a good week! Two disturbing meat stories grabbed headlines, reminding the public that animal cruelty, contamination, and false labelling run rampant in animal slaughter and processing.

A Vancouver Sun article exposed B.C. slaughterhouse inspection records obtained under freedom of information laws. Inspectors documented botched animal slaughter, rotting flesh on live animals, insects, and filthy, unsanitary conditions. Many slaughterhouses were contaminated due to improper cleaning, inadequate disinfection, rodent dropping, and insects.

One inspector reported that workers shocked pigs mercilessly with electric cattle prods while screaming at the animals.

In another case, a frightened cow jumped away from the kill floor and couldn’t regain footing for 6 minutes. After breaking a glass jar, he fell back onto the kill floor and was improperly shot, suffering for several minutes before being shot again and bleeding out. Two other cows were terrified by the chaos and broke two boards in their holding pen while frantically trying to escape.

In another report, a cow’s udder was seen detaching from her body, and a vile odour was present, suggesting her flesh was rotting away.

Another inspector documented an overcrowded trailer, which killed 15 birds because of a failure to provide proper airflow.

Fines for slaughterhouse violations are $100,000 for a first conviction and $200,000 per day for a second offence. Despite these extensive animal cruelty and food safety violations, not a single B.C. facility has faced a fine or suspension of operations.

Meanwhile, a University of Guelph study revealed that one in five sausages from grocery stores across Canada contain meat from an animal not disclosed on the label. Of the 27 cow flesh sausages examined, seven actually contained pig meat. One of the 38 pig meat sausages studied contained horse meat. Four out of 20 chicken sausages contained turkey flesh, and one contained cow. Five of the 15 turkey sausages examined were actually made from chickens, with no turkey at all.

And the researchers don’t believe this is simply a case of trace amounts. Instead, the meat-mixing points to either intentional fraud, or major errors in processing.

The meat industry prioritizes profits while misleading consumers, and disregarding animal protection laws and food safety standards. Thanks to the power of media exposés, more and more consumers are aware of the dark side of this industry.

 

 

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