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Animal Justice Will Intervene in Lawsuit Challenging Ontario Animal Protection Laws

Animal Justice April 23, 2018

PERTH—National animal law non-profit Animal Justice has been granted intervener status in a lawsuit that attempts to strike down key aspects of provincial animal welfare laws and their enforcement.

The case, Bogaerts v. Attorney General of Ontario, is a constitutional challenge to Ontario’s provincial animal welfare legislation and its enforcement. Specifically, the applicant is asking the court to rule that:

  • granting police powers to the Ontario SPCA, a private charity, violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because the Ontario SPCA is not subject to transparency, oversight, and accountability measures that apply to other law enforcement agencies;
  • search and seizure powers used to protect animals and investigate animal welfare offences are too broad, violate the Charter, and should be struck down; and
  • animal protection offences in provincial law are criminal in nature and fall outside provincial powers, thus unlawfully intruding on federal jurisdiction.

“This case could weaken protections for millions of animals in Ontario—not just family pets like cats and dogs, but also animals confined in farms, fur farms, zoos, and aquariums,” said Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “It could also have national ramifications, potentially affecting the validity of animal protection laws and enforcement in other provinces. Animal Justice will be there to ensure the animals and their interests are represented in court.”

Animal Justice will argue that animals must be protected to the maximum extent possible under the law. To that end, Animal Justice shares many of the applicant’s concerns over the transparency, oversight, and accountability of animal law enforcement. However, Animal Justice believes that broad search and seizure powers are necessary in the unique context of protecting animals, who are often kept behind closed doors and cannot report illegal abuse themselves.

The case is scheduled to be heard in the Superior Court of Justice in Perth, Ontario on Wednesday, May 16. Animal Justice is represented by lawyers Arden Beddoes of Arvay Finlay LLP, and Benjamin Oliphant of Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP.

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More information about Bogaerts v Attorney General of Ontario is available on a website maintained by the applicant, found here.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

 

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PEI Quietly Banned Circuses with Exotic Animals

Animal Justice July 14, 2017

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.

Other highlights 

  • 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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