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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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Animal Justice

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Charges Dropped Against Police Officer Who Rescued Kitten from Meth User

Animal Justice May 11, 2017

Compassion won the day in Oshawa, Ontario this week after police prosecutors finally withdrew a disciplinary charge against an officer who helped a kitten in distress. Shockingly, police officer Beth Richardson was being prosecuted by the police for a simple act of kindness—rescuing a kitten named Tia, whom she found cowering under a chair at the home of a meth user.

According to the notice of hearing, officer Richardson had been dispatched to a home where a woman had been using crystal meth for several days. She saw Tia hiding underneath a chair, believed the kitten was at risk and not being properly cared for, took Tia to a veterinarian, but was forced to return her to the home later when the meth user’s boyfriend called to complain.

When news of the prosecution hit the media, the public was shocked that a police officer could get in trouble for protecting an animal. That’s when Animal Justice stepped up to help officer Richardson fight the charge. Lawyers for Animal Justice filed a motion to intervene in the case at a hearing last December to explain why the legal system should be used to help animals, not punish compassionate people who try to protect them. As a cat, we argued that Tia must not be treated like a piece of property but as a living being with needs of her own.

Animals won a huge victory at that hearing when Animal Justice successfully convinced police prosecutors that rescuing an animal is an honourable action—not discreditable conduct. The police also acknowledged that their duty to preserve life includes animal life as well as human beings. Yet they refused to halt the prosecution, claiming officer Richardson did not properly document her actions in rescuing Tia.

On Tuesday, May 9 the police finally withdrew the charge against officer Richardson. According to a joint statement, the police now acknowledge that the officer was “genuinely concerned about the welfare of an animal in distress”, and she has agreed to continue to “promote animal welfare in the community.”

The best part? Tia has since been adopted into another home, and her new family brought her over for a joyful reunion with officer Richardson after the charge was dropped.

Animal Justice thanks officer Richardson for the love and compassion she showed to Tia, a vulnerable animal in need. Her actions are a model for all law enforcement officers. Compassion wins!

Photos courtesy of Mary-Chris Staples.

Animal Justice

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  • EXPOSED: Filth and Fraud in the Canadian Meat Industry

    by on August 5, 2017 - 0 Comments

    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... Read more » Animal Justice

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