CALGARY – National animal law organization Animal Justice is calling on authorities to investigate the Calgary Stampede for illegal animal cruelty after its first animal death of 2019. A horse was killed on Monday after being forced to complete in a dangerous chuckwagon race. Horses are killed in Stampede chuckwagon races nearly every single year. According to tracking done… Read more » Animal Justice
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Prosecutors in London, Ontario withdrew all charges today against animal rights advocate Jenny McQueen. McQueen was facing charges of break and enter and mischief after entering a pig breeding facility in Lucan, Ontario that impregnates mother pigs so their piglets can be fattened up and sent to slaughter. Around 2,600 pigs are confined at the industrial-style breeding facility.
McQueen witnessed hell on earth inside the pig warehouse. She recorded footage of mother pigs confined in gestation crates, forced to produce litter after litter of piglets. Many of the mother pigs suffered from prolapse, with their organs protruding from their bodies. McQueen removed one baby piglet from the facility, who is now safe and healthy.
Prosecutors stated they were withdrawing the charges because there was no reasonable prospect of convicting McQueen. In other words, they felt they could not prove the case against her.
The charges against McQueen had been dubbed the “Pig Trial 2”, reminiscent of the trial of Anita Krajnc, who was acquitted of criminal mischief in 2017 for giving water to thirsty pigs on their way to slaughter. The acquittal came after a high-profile trial that garnered global media coverage and exposed the suffering of pigs in the farming system.
On the steps of the courthouse, McQueen called the day “an absolute win for animal rights activism”, but noted that she was disappointed her case would not get to trial because “so many people needed to hear what is happening” inside industrial farms. She promised to continue to raise awareness because animal agriculture is concealing the truth from consumers, “lying to the general public with terms like ‘humane’ and ‘well-cared for’.”
McQueen’s lawyer Gary Grill noted that charging animal advocates is a huge waste of court resources, but also a tremendous opportunity to expose the cruel reality of modern farming. Grill stated that he was unaware of whether the animal farming industry had pushed for the charges against McQueen to be laid, or had asked for them to be withdrawn, but that criminal trials are damaging to the farming industry because disturbing footage of cruelty is inevitably played in court.
Grill stated that as animal advocacy continues to intensify, he anticipates intense, well-funded lobbying on behalf of the meat and fur industries, who want to turn activism into a serious terrorism offence and introduce ag gag-style restrictions on filming conditions on farms.
This lobbying may already be underway. Last month, Animal Justice reported that a fur industry representative asked the House of Commons Agriculture Committee to enact US-style terrorism laws to lock up activists who expose cruelty on fur farms.
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The Ontario SPCA has announced that it will withdraw from enforcing animal protection laws in the province of Ontario as of March 31, when its current funding agreement with the province expires.
While many animal lovers may be concerned by this news, and fear that it will be bad for animals, Animal Justice is applauding the Ontario SPCA for this bold move. We believe it will prompt the government to create a new, stronger, public enforcement system that will be better-equipped to protect animals from cruelty and suffering.
What’s the problem? First, animal law enforcement is woefully underfunded. The Ontario SPCA is not a government agency—it is a private charity. The Ontario SPCA is expected to enforce publicly-enacted animal protection laws in the province, and responds to nearly 16,000 animal welfare complaints each year, province-wide. But the agency receives less than $6 million from the provincial government to carry out its important work, and is forced to fundraise so it can afford to enforce public laws, run shelters, and care for animals. The funding provided to the Ontario SPCA represents a mere 0.001% of the $4.4 billion in public money that is spent on policing in Ontario every year, and the agency is ill-equipped to carry out its mandate. There are more fare inspectors working at the Toronto Transit Commission than there are animal welfare inspectors in the entire province.
Second, many people have questioned whether it is appropriate in 2019 for a private charity to enforce public laws. The Ontario SPCA is not subject to freedom of information laws, police accountability legislation, and other oversight mechanisms that apply to virtually all other law enforcement agencies. In January 2019, an Ontario judge ruled that giving police powers to a private body without transparency and accountability is unconstitutional. Animal Justice intervened in the case in support of the court’s decision, because we believe transparency and accountability are important to making sure animal cruelty offences are investigated and addressed. The case is now being appealed.
Animal Justice believes it is time for a new system, and the Ontario SPCA’s move should prompt the government to implement a well-funded, public law enforcement regime. Caring for animals is a public responsibility, and the government needs to step up and properly fund this vital area of our legal system so that vulnerable animals in our society have strong protections from from cruelty and neglect.
The Ontario SPCA decision will not leave animals unprotected in Ontario. Police officers have always had the authority to enforce federal and provincial animal cruelty laws, and have often done so despite the Ontario SPCA’s overlapping authority. The Ontario SPCA has also offered to continue to provide enforcement services for a three-month transition period, until the end of June 2019.
The private, SPCA enforcement model is a quirk of history, and occurs in virtually no other area of the law. When early animal cruelty laws were enacted in the 1800s in England, most prosecutions were done privately by aggrieved individuals. The Royal SPCA formed to ensure animal laws were enforced, as animals were unable to prosecute cases on their own, and the SPCA enforcement model spread throughout Commonwealth countries.
Other provinces have already moved away from private animal law enforcement. The Edmonton Humane Society announced in January 2019 that it would end enforcement, concluding that it is no longer appropriate for a donation-supported body to fulfill a public enforcement function. Manitoba animal protection laws are primarily enforced by the office of the Chief Veterinary Officer, a public agency. In Newfoundland, the police enforce animal protection laws.
Animal Justice is committed to working with the Ontario SPCA and the province to examine the best options for a strong new enforcement system that puts animals’ interests first. We will keep you updated on future developments, and for ways you can help.
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Loppa (formerly Cece) has been with us for two years. She loves sleeping on top of her big brother Rusty and giving kisses and cuddles to her human family. She's smart, brave, happy, and brings us all great joy. Thank you SCARS for bringing us together. Erla Anderson
I adopted Teddy from you about ten years ago. Before you found him, he had a broken jaw caused by being kicked, was very hungry and dehydrated and needed immediate care. Here he is today and he just loves my home and more importantly me. Kindest Regards, Michael Lee
Hello everyone, my name is Smokey and I have had a tough go of it this last few weeks. The good people of the Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force took me in recently and I owe them my life for it. The volunteers thought I might have been poisoned because I had no idea
Hi everyone, we have already started working on the 2020 SCARS calendar which raises funds to help SCARS continue with their animal rescue initiatives. If you have an exceptional photo of a SCARS foster or if you adopted a SCARS animal and would like a chance to have them featured in our 2020 calendar,
Hi, I am Harley. I came into care during a SCARS Spay-Neuter-Return event in my community in early May 2019. I was badly injured due to being hit by a car a few days earlier. I was so happy to see them that I crawled right into the crate. Off to the vet for
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