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New Animal Transport Regulations Condemn Animals to Suffer and Die

Animal Justice February 20, 2019

OTTAWA – National animal law non-profit Animal Justice is denouncing new farmed animal transport regulations released today by the federal government as a massive betrayal, falling far below the standards Canadians expect for animals.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency ignored the tens of thousands Canadians who provided input during the revision process and demanded shorter transport times for animals, protections from severe weather, and an end to electric prods and other painful and appalling practices. Instead of creating rules that protect vulnerable animals from horrific suffering, the government appears to have let well-funded farm industry lobbyists write the rules to protect industry profits.

“Canada’s animal transport regulations have been a matter of national shame for decades, but the new rules do almost nothing to bring our laws in line with Canadians’ expectations or even the standards in other countries,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “The fingerprints of the meat and egg industries are all over these weak, ineffective rules. The revised regulations prove that the CFIA has been captured by industries that treat extreme animal cruelty as merely the cost of doing business.

“Transport is one of the most stressful experiences an animal will ever endure. Yet under the revised rules, it is still legal to transport vulnerable animals for lengthy periods without food, water, or rest. Animals can still be shipped in open-sided trucks in all weather conditions, even though many may freeze to death in the frigid cold, or die from overheating in sweltering, humid summers. It also remains legal to shock animals with electric prods.

“At least 1.59 million animals arrive at slaughterhouses dead or dying after transport. Animal advocates regularly document animals in trucks with severe frostbite and heath exhaustion. The revised regulations will do practically nothing to prevent this. It is heartbreaking that the government is refusing to crack down on an abusive industry that treats animals as commodities instead of the sensitive individuals that they are.”

Animal transport times are only slightly shorter in the new regulations, and where there was a conflict between animal welfare science and the economic convenience of the farming industry, the government ignored the science and bowed to the industry. For instance, the CFIA’s own science indicated that spent layer hens suffer after 12 hours of transport, as their bodies are weak, depleted, and vulnerable after years of being confined in cages and laying a high volume of eggs. When a 12-hour limit was initially proposed, the egg industry lobbied behind closed doors to increase transport times for spent hens to 28 hours, consistent with existing practices, to avoid spending any money to reduce animal suffering.

Other chickens can be transported for up to 36 hours. Cows can also be transported for 36 hours, down only slightly from 48 hours under the previous rules. In the United States, the maximum cow transport time is 28 hours, and in the European Union it is only eight hours.

Pigs can now be transported for 28 hours, down only flight from the previous 36 hour limit. In the European Union and New Zealand, the maximum pig transport time is only eight hours.

As with the previous rules, there are no temperature or weather restrictions on transport, and no requirement for temperature-controlled trucks as was universally recommended by animal protection organizations.

The transport regulations have also shifted to use outcome-based measures, rather than requiring specific standards that must be met. For example, instead of stating clearly how much space each animal should be afforded during transport, the new regulations simply state that overcrowding should be avoided. In general, outcome-based rules are completely inappropriate for animal use industries as a negative outcome must occur before enforcement action can be taken.

“Farmed animal welfare is almost completely unregulated by the federal government, with the industry largely left to police itself. It is appalling that in one of the only two areas where animals do benefit from laws—transport and slaughter—the government still lets the industry write its own rules. Animals are members of our society and legislators have a responsibility to protect them from suffering, not just to look out for corporate profits.”

Polling shows that over 95% of Canadians want to see stronger transport laws. After the CFIA released its first round of proposed amendments in December 2016, over 51,000 Canadians commented, with nearly all of those responses demanding improvements. At least 800 million animals are transported per year in Canada.

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The new regulations are available here.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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What Do Ontario’s New Slaughter Laws Mean For Animals?

Animal Justice December 12, 2018

Ontario has announced that it’s amending its provincial slaughter regulations. The province will eliminate the need for a veterinarian to conduct post-mortem inspections at a slaughterhouse of an animal killed on a farm. However, a pre-slaughter inspection still needs to be done by a veterinarian on the farm. This will decrease the likelihood that the industry will attempt to truck downed animals to slaughterhouses, causing them even more stress and suffering.

Although the impact on animals will be small, Animal Justice is concerned by the growing trend to make animal welfare regulations more “outcome based.”

“Outcome-based” rules establish only an outcome that a regulated party must achieve. This is the opposite of “prescriptive” rules, which set out exactly how regulated parties must comply with the rules.

For example, saying that it is illegal to overcrowd animals in transport is outcome-based. The outcome is not crowding animals. By contrast, saying that, for example, “the loading density for pigs of around 100 kg should not exceed 235 kg/m2″, as the European Union requires, is prescriptive. What crowding means is measurable using numbers.

Laws must be flexible enough to be adaptive to unique situations, but also predictable and foreseeable for those subject to the laws. Sometimes it is difficult to balance flexibility with predictability. When it is possible to create specific and predictable laws with no real loss to flexibility, it is clearly better for animals that laws are indeed created with specificity and predictability. In other words, as much as possible, it is better for standards to be prescriptive. This ensures animal industries understand exactly what the law requires of them, and ensures law enforcement understands exactly when standards have been met—or violated.

When outcome-based measures are used in situations were prescriptive rules would be more appropriate, a race to the bottom is encouraged. Most animal industries are not over-complying with regulations. They are doing only what they must to stay on the right side of the law. When rules are vague, there’s an incentive is to push the boundaries and do as little as possible.

It is also difficult to enforce vague rules, because law enforcement agencies are also confused about what is required, and unwilling to be zealous in enforcing laws only to face backlash. But when rules are clear, specific, and numbers-based, they are much easier to enforce.

Ontario’s current meat regulation amendment proposes a minor outcome-based modification that would not impact animals. However, we alerted OMAFRA to our objection towards outcome-based rules by filing a submission through their public consultation process.

Thank you for supporting our work to lead the legal fight for animals in Canada. Without you, we would not be able to monitor and influence legal changes like this one.

 

 

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Animal Welfare Complaint Filed After Footage Appears To Show Moving Cow Being Skinned Alive

Animal Justice August 28, 2018

MILTON, Ontario—An animal welfare complaint has been filed with provincial law enforcement authorities after a video appearing to show a cow moving its head while its skin is hacked off has gone viral on Twitter.

“Under Ontario law, it is illegal to cause animals to be in distress,” said Lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice. “Removing the skin of a conscious animal would certainly qualify as causing distress. Authorities must investigate to determine whether the movements depicted in the video were the result of a conscious animal struggling to right itself while being cut up alive.”

Non-stun slaughter is permitted in Canada. Federal policy prohibits suspending or dragging sensible (conscious) animals, and requires immediate corrective action if animals return to sensibility. However, laws regulating slaughter do not apply when people are killing animals for their own consumption.

“It appears from this video that this cow may still be conscious while being skinned,” said Ontario-based veterinarian Dr. Maureen Harper said. “It is hard to say definitively that this is the case. Regardless, it is my opinion that non-stun or ritual slaughter is a cruel and inhumane practice and should be banned in this country. This case presents a perfect argument for this, as clearly the people in the video are not trained to asses whether or not the animal is dead prior to being skinned.”

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is opposed to slaughter without stunning because “it causes avoidable pain.” The British Veterinary Association, Farm Animal Welfare Council, EU Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare, and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe have also issued position statements opposing slaughter without stunning.

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

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For more information, contact:

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

 

 

Join the Animal Justice mailing list

Yes, I want to stay in touch! 

Animal Justice

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