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Animal Justice Seeks to Intervene in Legal Challenge to Ontario Animal Protection Laws

Animal Justice April 19, 2018

Media Advisory

PERTH, Ontario—National animal law non-profit Animal Justice will ask an Ontario court tomorrow for permission to intervene in a lawsuit that attempts to strike down key aspects of provincial animal welfare laws.

Where: Superior Court of Justice, 43 Drummond Street East, Perth, Ontario
When: Friday, April 20th, 10 am
Who: Animal Justice, represented by executive director Camille Labchuk

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.

Animal Justice is seeking to intervene because the case has wide-ranging implications for the millions of animals in Ontario confined in farms, fur farms, zoos, and aquariums. The case could also have national ramifications, potentially affecting the validity of animal protection laws and enforcement in other provinces.

If granted leave to intervene, 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 oger 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.

Animal Justice is represented by lawyers Arden Beddoes of Arvay Finlay LLP, and Benjamin Oliphant of Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP. Animal Justice’s executive director Camille Labchuk will appear in court tomorrow on behalf of the organization.

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

Animal Justice’s application to intervene is available upon request.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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How to Protect Dogs Left in Hot Cars This Summer

Animal Justice, Dogs May 29, 2017

After a long winter and rainy spring, the weather is finally heating up in Canada. But when the temperature rises, so too can the risk to animal safety. Animals can suffer in hot weather just like we do. Although it is becoming socially unacceptable to leave animals alone in cars, far too many animals—especially dogs—still die from overheating every year after being left unattended, locked in vehicles.

It’s illegal to cause suffering / distress to animals under federal criminal laws as well as provincial statutes, and some cities have their own bylaws protecting animals from abuse. Cars can heat up incredibly quickly even on mild days, and while some might think that rolling down the window a crack is fine, it does little to pets protects from suffering and dying in the heat.

Why are pets so vulnerable to hot weather? When people get too hot, we have the luxury of being able to sweat to cool our bodies down. But for dogs, panting is their only effective way to cool off. A dog’s body temperature rises quickly, but in a hot car panting does nothing to alleviate the heat. Consider this: A dog’s resting body temperature is 39° C; when it hits 41° C, the dog can only withstand this heat for a few minutes before suffering from permanent brain damage and eventually death.

So, what can you do to help a dog trapped in a hot car?

First, know the signs of heat distress. Some panting is normal for dogs, but if a dog is unresponsive, has their lips pulled back, is panting heavily, has bright red or purple gums, or a swollen tongue, they are experiencing heat distress and need immediate attention.

Next, call the authorities—your municipal animal protection agency, the provincial SPCA or humane society, and the police.  You should also take notes of the time you saw the animal, the location, vehicle model, colour, and license plate. It’s also worth going into nearby shops to try to find the owner and get the car opened.

What if you decide to break the car window yourself? It’s illegal to damage another person’s property in Canada, so breaking a window could result in criminal charges. Some U.S. states have already passed laws that let a bystander break a window to rescue a pet in distress, but Canadian provinces have yet to follow suit. In the meantime, you can contact your provincial representatives and ask for better hot car laws in your province.

Leaving animals unattended in cars is never worth the risk, so please help get the word out! Let your friends and family know what to do if they spot a pet in this situation. Together, we can enjoy the warmer weather the right way, with our animal friends in mind.

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Justice

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Pig Scrambles Violate Animal Cruelty Laws, Says Animal Justice

Animal Justice March 29, 2017

CHARLOTTETOWN – National animal law organization Animal Justice has sent a letter to law enforcement authorities in Prince Edward Island advising that “pig scramble” events likely violate federal and provincial animal cruelty laws and must not be allowed to proceed.

The PEI Plowing Match and Agricultural Fair in Dundas has held pig scrambles in past years, but has been under intense scrutiny this year after a petition calling for its cancellation began attracting support and national media attention. The petition has over 3,100 signatures to date. Pig scrambles have already been cancelled at other Maritime fairs due to concerns over animal cruelty, including the Westmoreland Fair in Petitcodiac, NB, and the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition in Truro, NS.

“Federal and provincial laws are clear: It’s illegal to cause distress and suffering to animals,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “Pig scrambles are cruel and unnecessary events that cause baby animals to experience intense fear and psychological trauma at being chased around a ring for human amusement. These outdated entertainment events are not exempt from animal cruelty laws.”

Animal Justice is asking authorities to prosecute violations of animal cruelty laws at the Dundas Plowing Match pig scramble if it does go ahead. According to news reports, the event directors are considering the future of the pig scramble.

Animal Justice’s letter was sent to Agriculture and Fisheries Minister J. Alan McIsaac, Department of Agriculture inspectors, the provincial veterinarian, the PEI Humane Society, and the Montague detachment of the RCMP.

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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