TORONTO—National animal law organization Animal Justice will intervene tomorrow in an appeal of the legal challenge that struck down the Ontario SPCA’s enforcement authority. In Bogaerts v. Attorney General of Ontario 2019 ONSC 41, Justice Minnema of the Superior Court of Justice declared that it is unconstitutional for the Ontario SPCA—as a private charity not subject to reasonable oversight measures—to enforce… Read more » Animal Justice
CALGARY – National animal law non-profit Animal Justice has filed a complaint with the Calgary Humane Society over shocking animal cruelty alleged to have occurred at a University of Calgary psychology research laboratory.
According to a news report, multiple former students have come forward to blow the whistle on disturbing experiments conducted in an addiction research laboratory supervised by assistant professor Devran Lovic. The whistleblowers allege that rats were improperly anesthetized, causing multiple rats to wake up during surgery. On at least one occasion, researchers allegedly continued to perform surgery on a conscious rat, restraining the distressed animal with a surgical pad while his back and neck were cut open.
Lovic has been on leave since December 2017, and the University apparently shut down his laboratory in March.
“Slicing open live, conscious rats is a clear violation of both federal and provincial animal cruelty laws, and that’s why authorities must investigate the University of Calgary and prosecute this shocking mistreatment,” said animal rights lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “It is illegal to perform surgery on an animal without appropriately administering anesthesia, and researchers have a legal obligation to ensure rats spared discomfort during the entire surgical period. It’s heartbreaking to think of the horrific trauma these rats would have endured when they regained consciousness during painful, invasive surgery.”
Animal Justice is also criticizing the University of Calgary’s response to the troubling allegations, and is calling on the University to come clean and release publicly any documents associated with the experiments in question.
Federally, Canada has the weakest laws in the western world for protecting animals used in research. Unlike in other countries, here are no federal laws, no inspectors, no public inspection reports, and no way for the public to effectively oversee the secretive activities of animal researchers. Instead, there are only voluntary guidelines created and overseen by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), a non-profit with no legal authority. The CCAC can recommend that the federal granting agencies withdraw research funding from a non-compliant institution. There is no evidence that this has ever occurred or that funding has ever been withheld.
However, Alberta’s provincial Animal Protection Act makes it mandatory for researchers to comply with CCAC guidelines. The CCAC’s Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals states that appropriate anesthesia, proper instrumentation and competent pre- and post-operative care are all essential to the welfare of the experimental animal. It requires that all surgical procedures are to be carried out under anesthesia; that those doing surgery have an obligation to be aware of the efficiency of the anesthetic technique being used; and that it is the responsibility of the surgeon and anesthetist to ensure that this animal is spared discomfort during the entire peri-operative period. Failing to comply with these measures is illegal.
Animal Justice is also calling on the CCAC to recommend that funding be withheld from the institution for failing to comply with CCAC guidelines.
The Canadian Council on Animal Care Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals can be found here.
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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.
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:
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Hi SCARS, This is Mrs. Peabody (now known as Mrs. Charlotte Peabody, aka Charlie), who came to us on April 21, from SCARS, after she weaned her six babies. She has more personality than any cat I have ever met! We love her so much! This little lady and my SCARS adoption experience (combined
Hello SCARS, September 9th marks 3 years since we adopted our Doug ~ formerly Grizzly Adams. He had been in a fight with a porcupine & was in horrible shape when Terra picked him up and rushed him to Westlock Vet. After blood transfusions & exploratory surgery, he was on a road to recovery
The Manitoba government is consulting the public on potential “ag gag” (agricultural gag) laws in Manitoba, and now is the time to have your say to block these dangerous proposals. The public consultation asks for input on four legislative initiatives to combat rural crime. While some of the proposals seem fairly benign—stopping metal theft and... Read more » Animal Justice
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