Canada’s smallest province just took a huge legal leap forward for animals by banning the use of exotic animals in circuses! This groundbreaking rule is part of a larger package of new regulations for animal protection in the province. Although there’s still a lot of room for improvement, PEI deserves credit for making some major updates as compared to other provinces. Here are some of the highlights.
Restrictions on using animals for entertainment
Circuses can no longer use exotic animals in performances, making PEI the first province to restrict circuses in this way. Dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, mules, pigeons, doves, and chickens are unfortunately still permitted, but the new regulations do recognize that performances are often demeaning to the dignity of these animals.
Trainers are prohibited from dressing animals up in a way that belittles them, and trainers, handlers, and audience members must treat animals with respect as well.
Training methods for animals in entertainment typically involve inducing fear and pain to force an animal to perform, but PEI laws now make this illegal. Training that involves pain and punishment is outlawed, with only positive reward-based methods permitted. High-risk training and performances aren’t allowed, including the use of fire.
Although no animal should be forced to perform for human entertainment, limiting the species of animals and imposing standards and restrictions is an improvement.
- Cruel cosmetic mutilations are now banned, including docking the tails of horses, cows, and dogs; cropping dogs’ ears; and declawing cats.
- Pet stores must be licensed. (Shockingly, most other provinces do not license or regulate pet stores. Ideally, companion animal sales would be banned to shut down puppy mills and encourage adoption from shelters & rescues.)
- Farmers must comply with codes of practice for the treatment of farmed animals, setting some minimal standards. (Notably, the federal government does not regulate animal welfare on farms.)
- The new laws explicitly recognize that animals suffer psychological distress in addition to physical pain.
Of course, strengthening animal protection laws is only one part of the puzzle. Ensuring that laws are vigorously enforced continues to be a challenge, which is why Animal Justice encourages citizens to report animal cruelty whenever they see it.
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