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Animal Justice Supports OSPCA Move to Withdraw from Enforcement

Animal Justice March 4, 2019

OTTAWA – National animal law organization Animal Justice is applauding the Ontario SPCA’s move to transition away from enforcing animal protection laws after March 31, 2019. The agency announced today that it will instead offer to partner with provincial law enforcement experts, providing veterinary services and other animal-related support.

Although the Ontario SPCA is a private charity, it is empowered by legislation to enforce animal protection laws in the province of Ontario. The Ontario SPCA receives a small amount of government funding to do so, but is forced to raise additional funds on its own to ensure animal protection law are enforced. Of the estimated $4.4 billion spent on policing in Ontario, less than $6 million is given to the Ontario SPCA, representing only 0.001%.

Unlike virtually every other law enforcement agency, the Ontario SPCA is not subject to freedom of information or police accountability legislation. In January, a Superior Court judge ruled in the case of Bogaerts v. Ontario that it is unconstitutional for the province to delegate policing powers to the Ontario SPCA without transparency and accountability mechanisms. Animal Justice intervened in the Bogaerts case and argued in support of this outcome. The case is being appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

“Animal Justice supports this courageous move by the Ontario SPCA as a first step toward modernizing animal law enforcement,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “As the courts have already recognized, the private enforcement model needs an overhaul. Animal protection is the only area of the law where the government relies on private charities to enforce public laws, and forces them to raise their own funds to support this essential work.

“Law enforcement by private charities is no longer appropriate in 2019, and vulnerable animals in Ontario deserve a robust, well-resourced public system. People care deeply about preventing animal cruelty, and we are committed to working with the government and the OSPCA to usher in strong new legislation that provides maximum protection to animals and ensures laws are effectively enforced.”

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.

Private enforcement of animal protection laws is largely a quirk of history. 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. 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 that it would get out of 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.

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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Animal Justice Demands Animal Cruelty Investigation into Lethbridge Police Deer Killing Video

Animal Justice January 9, 2019

LETHBRIDGE – National animal law non-profit Animal Justice is calling for a criminal animal cruelty investigation into a disturbing video depicting a Lethbridge police officer repeatedly running over an injured deer with a police truck.

The video was taken by a concerned member of the public who was shocked to witness the officer’s actions. The witness reported that the officer ran over the deer at least five or six times before the deer died. The deer can be heard shrieking loudly in the video, and the witness described being upset and disturbed at hearing the deer’s cries.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating—a provincial police watchdog agency. In addition to investigating police misconduct offences, ASIRT is empowered to lay criminal animal cruelty charges against police officers. Animal Justice believes a full investigation is required to determine whether the officer should face criminal charges for the brutal and prolonged deer torture and killing.

“Animal cruelty is a very serious criminal offence, and there is little doubt that this poor deer suffered immensely while the officer repeatedly ran her over with a heavy truck. It is heartbreaking to watch the video and hear her crying out in pain as she was struck by the vehicle over and over again,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “ASIRT must investigate this disturbing incident with a view to determining whether criminal animal cruelty charges should be laid. Police officers are not above the law. On the contrary, they are sworn to uphold the law. For that reason, animal abuse of this nature by a police officer is particularly disturbing and must be taken very seriously.”

Alberta’s provincial Animal Protection Act requires that an officer who finds a distressed animal must take steps to relieve the animal’s distress, including by seeking help from a humane society or caretaker. The animal can be euthanized on the advice of a veterinarian, but a police officer cannot make the decision to euthanize an animal on their own unless a veterinarian is unavailable.

There is no public information indicating that the officer sought assistance, advice, or an examination from a veterinarian or wildlife official. Moreover, running an animal over with a vehicle is never an acceptable way to euthanize an injured animal.

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

109 total views, 1 today

Government (Finally) Moves to Close Bestiality Loophole

Animal Justice October 18, 2018

After a courtroom showdown and years of advocacy by Animal Justice, the federal government finally introduced legislation today to close Canada’s bestiality loophole. The new law also strengthens animal fighting offences. Animal Justice welcomes this news, but believes it is still not enough. The legislation still fails to deliver more comprehensive reform to Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws.

Over two years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that most forms of bestiality are not illegal under existing animal cruelty laws. Animal Justice intervened in the case to fight bestiality, and urged the federal government to take immediate action to update the laws once the shocking decision was released.

Yet it took years to see action. In 2016, the Liberal government killed a bill introduced by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith that would have updated Canada’s archaic animal cruelty laws and addressed bestiality. The public was outraged, and in response government officials promised to launch broad consultations and improve the animal cruelty laws.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel introduced a private member’s bill to address bestiality in 2017, and sponsored a parliamentary petition started by Animal Justice that gathered thousands of signatures. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Canadians have contacted the government, seeking stronger laws.

Although the government has finally taken action, Animal Justice believes that animals deserve far more than what they got. Canada still has some of the worst animal cruelty laws in the western world, and this legislation does nothing to change that. Surprisingly, the new laws don’t even give courts the ability to ban bestiality offenders from owning animals in the future, leaving vulnerable animals at risk of ongoing sexual abuse.

In the news release announcing the law, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould emphasized that the bill wouldn’t interfere with “farming, hunting, and trapping practices,” suggesting the government continues to listen to animal-use industries that profit from animal cruelty, rather than listening to the overwhelming majority of Canadians that support strengthening animal cruelty laws.

Animal Justice will push for changes to the new legislation to ensure those convicted of bestiality cannot own animals in the future, and will continue to fight for an overhaul of Canada’s last-century animal cruelty laws.

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    The post Griffin (formerly Tonka) appeared first on Second Chance Animal Rescue Society.

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