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Animal Justice Gala Celebrates 10 Years of Saving Animals

Animal Justice June 14, 2018

On June 8, 2018 Animal Justice celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a glamorous gala at The Burroughes in downtown Toronto. This inspirational evening included a blue carpet entrance and photo backdrop, an memorable program, fabulous vegan food, and a rooftop after-party with views of the CN Tower. Guests included many of Canada’s most notable animal advocates, animal-friendly business owners, prominent chefs Doug McNish and Amy Symington, and Members of Parliament Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Will Amos.


The gala kicked off with a stylish cocktail reception, featuring delicious hors d’oeuvres, mouth-watering vegan cheese from local companies Vegan Stokes Cheese and Nuts for Cheese, and wine from vegan-certified winery Karlo Estates.


After mingling at the reception, guests were ushered into the main hall for a delicious three-course dinner and unforgettable program, hosted by emcee and Animal Justice board member Kimberly Carroll. Guests were treated to the premiere of an inspirational, no-dry-eyes film showcasing the incredible work of Animal Justice and its lawyers over the last decade. Founder Nick Wright then addressed attendees, explaining what it was like in the early days of Animal Justice and describing the organization’s amazing growth.


After a decadent dessert prepared by Chef Amy Symington, Animal Justice honoured some remarkable individuals and business with awards for their work on behalf of animals.

2018 Pro Bono Award – Ecojustice

Ecojustice is Canada’s leading environmental law charity, and represented Animal Justice in a lawsuit against the Ontario government to protect threatened and endangered species. Thanks to the work of the brilliant legal team at Ecojustice, the lawsuit got action on creating recovery strategies for 37 at-risk species. Ecojustice lawyers Amir Attaran and Sarah McDonald accepted the award.
 

2018 Legislator Award – MP Michelle Rempel

Conservative Michelle Rempel was honoured for introducing a bill to protect animals from sickening sexual abuse. Animal Justice is proud to have worked with MP Rempel on this legislation, and applauds her commitment to improving Canada’s animal protection laws. MP Rempel’s legislative affairs manager Bari Miller kindly accepted the award on her behalf.

 

2018 Legislative Advocacy Award – Navigator & Ensight

Andrew Balfour of Navigator and Caitlin King of Ensight were honoured for assisting Animal Justice in the fight to pass a national ban on whale and dolphin captivity. Their continued efforts to support this groundbreaking legislation have been crucial in helping Senate Bill S-203 swim through the legislative process.
 

2018 Compassionate Brand Award – Wully Outerwear

Wully Outerwear creates cruelty-free luxury outerwear designed for the harsh Canadian climate, all without the use of fur or down. Wully’s brand of compassionate fashion is taking the world by storm—fur trim, beware! Wully founder James Yurichuk accepted the award.

 

2018 Media Award – Jessica Scott-Reid

Jessica Scott-Reid’s prolific journalism has shone a spotlight on animals, and she publishes regular opinion columns in major national newspapers and magazines. From Drake’s move to a meat-free diet, to undercover investigations, to the crooked ploys of the farming industry, Jessica’s written words are raising the national profile of animal issues.

Finally, Animal Justice’s executive director Camille Labchuk took the stage. In a passionate and inspiring speech, Camille invoked Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” and reminded guests that the animal advocacy movement is now taking on animal abusers and winning justice for animals. She remarked, “Our first ten years were about getting through the door to the courtrooms, and getting legislatures to take us seriously. But now we’re in! And together, we’re going to blow the roof off of this house.”

The program finished off with a high-energy fundraising round led by Camille and Nick Wright. Thanks to the generosity of guests, the gala raised over $47,000 to help animals!

The evening continued with a roof-top after party, where guests were treated to a sky full of stars, and views of the vivid Toronto skyline.

Animal Justice thanks each and every guest, our fabulous host committee, staff, and volunteers, and our generous sponsors, including Vegan Stokes Cheese, Nuts for Cheese, Gartner & Associates Animal Law, Hearty Catering, the Stanford Inn, Toltec House, Karlo Estates, Bantr Media, BIO RAW, Flower City Soap Company, Bhanda Bar, Anderson’s Interior Design, and Gardener Dental Group.


Couldn’t make it to the gala but still want to help Animal Justice represent animals in court? Click here to make a gift today!

Animal Justice

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Thousands of Animals Burn Alive at Van Boekel Farm, of #PigTrial Fame

Animal Justice May 29, 2018

Van Boekel Farms has a habit of getting itself in the news.

In 1994, the family pig farming business and its owner—Eric Van Boekel—were convicted for spilling manure into waterways, damaging the water and surrounding environment. Then, in 2011, they were convicted again, for seven offences under the Ontario Water Resources Act, Environmental Protection Act and Nutrient Management Act. Eric Van Boekel was sentenced to 30 days in jail, ordered to pay $345,000 in fines plus a 25% victim surcharge, and put on probation for two years. On appeal, the sentence was reduced.

Then, in 2015, Van Boekel famously reported Save Movement activist Anita Krajnc to police for giving water to panting, heat-stressed pigs aboard his transport truck on a hot summer’s day. Krajnc was charged with mischief and later acquitted, but not before the case put the entire pig industry on trial. Among other revelations, the cross examination of Van Boekel’s driver revealed that pigs go into distress during transport, that technology is available to cool them but it isn’t being used, and that he was unaware of animal welfare laws with which he was supposed to be compliant.

Now, Van Boekel’s Oxford County barn has burned down with 3000 sows and an “undetermined number of other pigs” trapped inside. Although the OPP say the fire is not suspicious, the Ontario Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate.

Most buildings in Canada must follow strict fire safety rules, but farm buildings with “low human occupancy” don’t. Modern farms can contain tens of thousands of animals whose ability to experience physical pain and emotional suffering is no different than our own, but because human occupancy is the standard, very few fire safety requirements exist to protect them.

Tragically for animals, farm buildings are dangerous, and fire hazards and disaster is inevitable. Animals are trapped inside, with no escape route. There are no fire detection or extinguishing systems in place, like sprinklers. Farm buildings are usually in rural areas, far from fire hydrants, fire stations, and have volunteer firefighters who respond from home. Wiring and electrical equipment is easily damaged by rodents and rampant indoor air pollution. Barns are often filled with flammable straw and wood, flammable gases from animal waste, and dangerous equipment like heat lamps. Despite the extreme risk to animals, fire safety inspections, and prevention plans still aren’t mandatory.

So it’s not really a surprise that between January 2015 and November 2017, more than 470,000 farmed animals burned alive on Canadian farms. It’s clear that the farming industry is unwilling or incapable of taking action to curb the epidemic of animals burning alive in barn fires. That’s why we need the National Farm Building Code to factor in animal protection, to force fire standards into place for farmed animals.

Please take action by contacting your local MP and asking them to protect animals from dying in horrific barn fires!

 

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Cat Declawing is Now Banned in British Columbia

Animal Justice May 8, 2018

Veterinarians in British Columbia will no longer be permitted to declaw cats, after the province’s College of Veterinarians banned the practice.

The College of Veterinarians is the self-regulatory body for the veterinary profession, and sets standards of practice that vets must follow. At a meeting on May 4, 2018 the College passed a motion prohibiting veterinarians from declawing domestic cats, unless medically necessary to treat a condition. A veterinarian who performs the amputation can now be investigated and disciplined.

This is incredible progress for our feline friends! Declawing is also known as “partial digit amputation” because it’s not just the claw that’s removed—the cat’s last toe bone is sliced or lasered off at the knuckle. Amputation is torture for cats, and can cause paw pain, infection, nerve damage, lameness, and back problems for sensitive kitties.

British Columbia follows in the footsteps of the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association, which was the first to ban the cruel and unnecessary practice earlier this year. Declawing bans are also common in other jurisdictions like Australia, New Zealand, the UK, parts of Europe, and many Californian cities.

In the new practice standard, the College recognized that “elective and non-therapeutic declawing is ethically problematic and that it is not an appropriate means of dealing with feline behaviour issues”. The College also makes clear that a cat guardian’s preferences or convenience is no excuse for the painful procedure, stating, “No medical conditions or environmental circumstances of the cat owner justify the declawing of domestic cats.”

Animal Justice celebrates this progress for cats, and supports introducing federal legislation banning cat declawing across Canada.

 

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