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Pig Scrambles Violate Animal Cruelty Laws, Says Animal Justice

Animal Justice March 29, 2017

CHARLOTTETOWN – National animal law organization Animal Justice has sent a letter to law enforcement authorities in Prince Edward Island advising that “pig scramble” events likely violate federal and provincial animal cruelty laws and must not be allowed to proceed.

The PEI Plowing Match and Agricultural Fair in Dundas has held pig scrambles in past years, but has been under intense scrutiny this year after a petition calling for its cancellation began attracting support and national media attention. The petition has over 3,100 signatures to date. Pig scrambles have already been cancelled at other Maritime fairs due to concerns over animal cruelty, including the Westmoreland Fair in Petitcodiac, NB, and the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition in Truro, NS.

“Federal and provincial laws are clear: It’s illegal to cause distress and suffering to animals,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “Pig scrambles are cruel and unnecessary events that cause baby animals to experience intense fear and psychological trauma at being chased around a ring for human amusement. These outdated entertainment events are not exempt from animal cruelty laws.”

Animal Justice is asking authorities to prosecute violations of animal cruelty laws at the Dundas Plowing Match pig scramble if it does go ahead. According to news reports, the event directors are considering the future of the pig scramble.

Animal Justice’s letter was sent to Agriculture and Fisheries Minister J. Alan McIsaac, Department of Agriculture inspectors, the provincial veterinarian, the PEI Humane Society, and the Montague detachment of the RCMP.

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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The CFIA Wants to Make It Easier to Mislead Consumers About Meat, Dairy, and Eggs

Animal Justice February 24, 2017

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is overhauling food labelling regulations, which include animal welfare claims on meat, dairy, and egg packaging like “free range” and “grass fed.” But instead of cracking down on the epidemic of false animal welfare claims, the government plans to weaken regulations and introduce new loopholes.

The CFIA wants to make animal welfare and related “consumer values” claims its lowest enforcement priority. In other words, the agency won’t proactively define and regulate claims about how farmed animals are treated, and may not even bother investigating companies for blatantly false animal welfare claims.

Instead, the CFIA wants to make it consumers’ responsibility to contact companies themselves to find out what their animal welfare claims mean. According to the CFIA, industry has a “legal and ethical responsibility” to ensure labelling claims are not misleading. But consumers have no way of verifying information provided by companies, which stand to benefit financially from misleading consumers.

If consumers are concerned about false labelling claims made by companies, the CFIA is proposing that consumers make their complaints directly to the companies themselves. In other words, if a company’s packaging uses misleading imagery or language, consumers have to first complain to the company. The CFIA will only pay attention to a consumer complaint if a company has provided an insufficient response, and will only investigate once multiple complaints are received.

cfia labelling

The CFIA wants to make it consumers’ responsibility to monitor and verify animal welfare claims.

Animal farming is notoriously secretive. It takes place on private property in windowless facilities, with virtually no government oversight. Consumers have no ability to monitor these industries ourselves, which is why we expect our government to step in and protect consumers from being duped by false claims.

Labelling is a crucial component of informed consumer choices. Consumers should be able to rely on the words and images used on labels being accurate and truthful. And in fact, polling shows 82 percent of consumers want clearer animal welfare labelling.

Previous work by Animal Justice has highlighted an epidemic of false animal welfare claims, misinformed consumers, and a nonexistent government response. We’ve filed consumer protection complaints against slaughterhouse Maple Lodge Farms for claiming to treat chickens humanely even while on probation for illegal animal cruelty; against supermarket chain Safeway for marketing chicken meat as “certified humane,” even though birds are crowded in dark barns and deprived of anything that makes life worth living; and against the Dairy Farmers of Canada for running deceptive dairy ads disguised as public health announcements.

Meanwhile, the European Union understands the importance of addressing animal welfare labelling, recognizing that if consumers lack information, “there is very little motivation for more producers to improve animal welfare and market their products accordingly.”

It’s not too late to tell the CFIA to monitor animal welfare labelling claims! Here’s what to do: Simply go to their online survey before March 15. Skip ahead to “Stream 2,” which is 88% of the way through the survey.

For Question 2, select “no.”

For Question 2i), explain that animal farming lacks transparency and government must ensure consumers are able to make informed choices.

For Question 2ii), explain that welfare claims must be regulated, and they must be the responsibility of government (not industry and consumers).

If you’re pressed for time, you could also simply fill in our petition here.

Thank you for taking action for animals.

Image: Egg-laying hens inside a “cage-free” farm, courtesy Direct Action Everywhere.

Animal Justice

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New Rules Proposed for Religious Slaughter; Animal Justice Calls for Outright Ban

Animal Justice January 12, 2017

OTTAWA—National animal law organization Animal Justice is calling for a ban on non-stun slaughter as new draft guidelines on the practice are open for public comment. The draft guidelines have been developed by the Federal/Provincial Animal Welfare Group, which includes the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Under federal law, the default rule is that animals must be rendered unconscious before being bled. However, an exception is provided for ritual slaughter in accordance with Judaic or Islamic law: it is permissible to restrain and cut the throats of fully conscious animals.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is opposed to slaughter without stunning because “it causes avoidable pain.” Even the new draft guidelines concede that pre-slaughter stunning is “the best method to control anxiety, pain and suffering”.

Lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice, said: “Globally, there is near-consensus amongst veterinarians that non-stun slaughter causes additional fear and pain to animals. Religious freedom is an important Canadian value, but it should not include the right to harm animals.”

Many countries have already banned or restricted non-stun slaughter, including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Australia.

Animal Justice is also calling for a ban on religious sacrifice of animals.

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Comments from the public will be accepted on the draft slaughter-without-stunning standards until January 27.

Animal Justice is encouraging the public to ask Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay to ban slaughter without stunning under the Meat Inspection Act.

For more information, contact:

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

Animal Justice

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