Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


World Society for the Protection of Animals

Universal Declaration campaign launched

Note 2014: WSPA has changed its name to World Animal Protection

WSPA USA is joining hundreds of other animal welfare organizations around the world, urging the United Nations to adopt an international agreement on the welfare of animals.

We are seeking a total of 10 million signatures on the "Animals Matter to Me" petition, making it the most ambitious global initiative on animal welfare that has ever been attempted. This petition urges the United Nations to adopt a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare similar to earlier initiatives on human rights and the environment.

There is NO international protection for animals

Billions of animals around the world are affected by humans, and rely on people to treat them with compassion. But sadly, in many countries there is little national and no international protection for animals.

WSPA believes that an international agreement on welfare standards should become a key goal for the animal welfare movement in the 21st century. The first step toward achieving this end would be to secure a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare at the United Nations.

A Universal Declaration accepted by the UN would:

  • Recognize animals as sentient beings, capable of suffering and experiencing pain
  • Recognize that animal welfare is an issue of importance as a part of the social development of nations
  • Act as a catalyst for better animal welfare provisions worldwide

Why you should sign the petition

Reaching the goal of 10 million signatures worldwide will raise public and government awareness about animals and the importance of considering their welfare.

It will show governments that animals and their treatment matters to everyone.

Please also visit the international version of the Animals Matter to Me website for even more in-depth information about this global campaign.

Governments and stakeholders need to take an interest in the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.

Recent WSPA News on the UN Declaration

June 07- Petition reaches half a million names
Dec. 06 - One step closer to a UN 'first' for animals

World Society for the Protection of Animals

May 5, 2009

Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon, Canada

Dear Minister of Foreign Affairs Cannon,

I am writing to you as a concerned citizen, one of the nearly half a million Canadians who supports humane societies and other animal protection organizations.

Animals matter. They matter to the countless millions of pet owners around the world. They matter to farmers, veterinarians and others who depend on them for their livelihood. They are important to the food security of many nations, including our own, but most especially those countries in the developing world. Nearly two billion people around the world rely on animals to meet all or part of their daily needs. And they contribute significantly to the livelihoods of 70 per cent of the world's rural poor. More importantly, as sentient beings that can feel pain and suffer, their welfare matters to the animals themselves.
Despite this, there is no global recognition of the importance of animal welfare. To address this, some of the world's leading animal protection organizations - including the World Society for the Protection of Animals and, here in Canada, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies - are campaigning for a Universal
Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) at the United Nations.

Such a declaration would encourage countries to pass animal welfare legislation where none exists and look for ways to improve existing laws and standards. This would not only benefit animals but benefit people and the environment, as improving animal welfare has proven benefits for environmental sustainability, human welfare and the social development of nations worldwide.

Development of a UDAW is already supported by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) whose members are the Chief Veterinarian Officers of 172 countries including Canada and has been formally endorsed by a number of national governments around the world. A number of governments have already come together to work towards achieving a UDAW and it is expected that negotiations of the final wording will begin sometime in 2010. For more information about UDAW visit
www.wspa.ca and www.makeanimalsmatter.ca

As a Canadian, I hope that my country will participate fully in this process. I respectfully request that the government of Canada support the development of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.

Sincerely, Carmina Gooch, address.  Acknowledged. 

Petition reaches 1,971,275 signatures  May 6, 2009

WSPA Canada Action Alert November 3, 2009
Animals matter to 75,503 Canadians

This November, a Private Member's motion in support of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) is scheduled to be debated for the second time in Canada's House of Commons. Sponsored by Michelle Simson (MP for Scarborough Southwest) and seconded by Bill Siksay (MP for Burnaby-Douglas), the motion had its first hour of debate on October 1st. It reads as follows:

‘That, in the opinion of the House, the government should support, in principle, the development of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare at all relevant International organizations and forums.’

A UDAW would be a powerful catalyst for change — inspiring the creation of national laws for the prevention of cruelty to animals where they do not exist and encouraging all nations to look for ways to improve their laws and standards for the prevention of cruelty to, and proper care and treatment of animals.

November 6, 2009 Incredible news from Ottawa!  The House of Commons passed Motion M-354 for a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare with unanimous all-party support!

Comment:  Part of Michelle Simson’s concluding remarks: .. the declaration is an agreement among people and nations to recognize that animals are sentient, suffer, have welfare needs, and to ultimately end animal cruelty worldwide. The declaration will be structured as a set of general principles that acknowledge and emphasize the importance of animal welfare. The purpose of these principles is to encourage all nations to put in place or enhance existing animal welfare laws in standards. 

The declaration is supported by a growing list of governments from countries around the world including all 27 members of the European Union. There is also a great deal of support from the public. Thousands of Canadians have signed petitions in support of a UDAW. Many of these petitions have been introduced in the House of Commons. The declaration is actively supported by Canada's foremost animal protection organizations including the World Society for the Protection of Animals. 

The implementation of the declaration is an important step and will act as a catalyst for change in the following ways: by raising the status of animal welfare as an international issue; by encouraging those in industries which utilize animals to keep their welfare at the forefront of their policies and practices; and by inspiring positive change in public attitudes and actions toward animals. 

I am heartened by the tone of the debate that has transpired. The declaration will be a key toward improved animal welfare legislation worldwide and a step closer to ending cruelty to animals globally. This first step is only one of many in a long road, but it is a critical one, one we must take for this extremely important cause.  

I urge all members to support the motion, so that Canada can join a growing list of countries on the world stage in support of animal welfare. 

Please thank your local MP for supporting the UDAW. Now all we need is government action and new legislation to protect our valued animal friends.  Write those letters!  M-354  Thank you! (link no longer active)

Note: There is quite a history to the UDAW and how it developed to what we have today.  Read Animal People's editorial: Compromise and the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare 

December 3, 2009 Europe has legally recognized animals as sentient beings according to the Lisbon Treaty, which went into effect December 1. Article 13 of the treaty states, “…the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals…”

January 20, 2010   A letter from Carmina Gooch to her MP and to Prime Minister Harper

From: Carmina Gooch,
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC
To: Andrew Saxton, MP
Cc: Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Re: Canada's Weak Animal Cruelty Legislation 

Dear Mr. Saxton, 

The Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC was pleased to hear that in early November, 2009, MP Michelle Simson's Motion No. 354 in support of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare passed with all-party support. 

The protection and welfare of animals is an important issue not only to Canadians, but to citizens all over the world.  We sincerely hope that new and improved legislation will now be created to reflect the commitment the government has made to this matter. 

Our animal cruelty laws are hopelessly outdated with the bill passed last year still maintaining animals as property under the Criminal Code of Canada, rather than as sentient beings with inherent worth.  Animal abusers walk free; wildlife, stray, and feral animals are left unprotected from acts of violence/cruelty, and crimes of neglect and/or cruelty are very difficult to prosecute.  Less than 1/4 of 1% of animal abuse complaints lead to successful convictions.  We would like to see the introduction of a government bill based on C-229. 

The Textile Labelling Act has gaping holes that allow for fur and fur-trim garments to enter our country, often coming from China.  It is widely known that merchandise/fur from China is inaccurately labelled, misleading, and/or deceptive, despite the claims of "reputable" and “independent” manufacturers, suppliers or "testing agencies."  The bottom line is that fur is imported from China because it's cheap.  So is life. There are no labelling regulations in Canada regarding the import of fur or fur-trim clothing or products. It is not required that the type of fur, its origin, or even whether it's real or not be disclosed.


From a September 23, 2009 news article: The federal government won't ban imports of cat and dog fur because doing so might undermine Canada's support for the seal hunt, says a newly released document.

An internal memo shows government officials urged Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz not to follow the United States and Europe in barring cat and dog fur from entering the country.

Officials worried a ban would weaken Canada's argument against other countries closing their borders to its seal products. "A ban could have implications for the farmed fur industry in Canada and for Canada's position against the banning of Canadian seal products by other countries," the memo says. http://www.rabbitadvocacy.com/ottawa_wont_ban_fur_imports_beca.htm

According to CFIA statistics for the years 2001-2005, republished by the BC SPCA, more than 600 million farm animals are transported to slaughter in Canada every year, including 580 million broiler chickens, 32 million egg-laying and breeding hens, 21 million pigs, 19 million turkeys and three million cattle.

Between two million and three million animals are found dead each year when trucks are unloaded. That represents an overall average mortality rate of 0.4 per cent for animals during transportation. http://www.rabbitadvocacy.com/death_toll_staggering_for_animal.htm

Under Canada's Health of Animals Act, cattle, sheep, and goats may be transported 52 hours without water, food, or rest.  For poultry, horses, and pigs it is 36 hours without water, food, or rest.  The maximum time for all species in the U.S. is 28 hours.  Animals suffer greatly during long-distance transport under deplorably inhumane conditions, with many dying before reaching the slaughterplant. Current regulations are sorely out of date and largely unenforced, leaving the animals used for food virtually unprotected.  Proposed amendments from the fall of 2006 have yet to be brought into the full consultation process, which is totally unacceptable.  There have been no changes since the mid-1990's! http://www.rabbitadvocacy.com/auditor_general_asked_to_review.htm

As yet, a Code of Practice for food rabbits in Canada has not been developed, a matter that needs to be emended.  In addition, the voluntary, recommended Codes of Practice, offer little or no "protection" to animals, leaving them wide open to abuse.  With no enforcement the violators go unpunished. It makes no sense to have the industry police itself.  http://www.rabbitadvocacy.com/no_laws_to_protect_canadian_live.htm

Animals are regularly transported from farms in Canada to the USA, and rabbits hauled from Manitoba to California, for example, are not required to be rendered unconscious prior to bleeding/slaughter under antiquated US law.  A regulation stopping animals from being transported to jurisdictions where they would not be handled and slaughtered in accordance with the Canadian Meat Inspection Regulations would prevent their inhumane slaughter. http://www.rabbitadvocacy.com/auditor_general_asked_to_review.htm 

Sadly, we hear cases of unimaginable cases of animal cruelty, suffering, and neglect in the news media daily.  In November, 2009, we learned of Jalupae, a 27-year-old appaloosa gelding who was starved and hanged from an excavator.  Two Brentwood Bay residents have had their case adjourned and it's widely anticipated that there won't be any justice of any significance for this poor horse.http://www.rabbitadvocacy.com/campaigns_to_stop_animal_cruelty.htm

Just yesterday it was reported that a Dawson Creek couple received a paltry $700.00 fine for animal cruelty and put on two years probation.  In 2008, BC SPCA officers seized 87 animals, including some exotics, from an assortment of over 200 creatures kept in deplorable conditions, most in an out-building with no ventilation and no water.  A coatimundi was being kept in a dog crate and had chewed its own paws.  This ruling clearly demonstrates the necessity for animals to be removed from the property designation and for existing legislation to be significantly strengthened to protect our vulnerable and voiceless creatures of society.  http://www.rabbitadvocacy.com/animal_suffering_cruelty_and_hoa.htm

The public has become increasingly incensed over crimes against animals, and with animal rights and law in the mainstream, I ask for your attention to this important matter.  

Attachment: Canada Falls Behind 

Friday, April 18, 2008 Canadians for Effective Animal Cruelty Legislation 

In a new report entitled "Falling Behind," the International Fund for Animal Welfare compares animal cruelty legislation from 14 countries around the world. Canada, unfortunately, places at the bottom of the list.

Executive Summary:

Almost every day in Canada newspapers cover stories of horrific acts of cruelty to animals. From house cats captured and killed in microwaves to dogs dragged behind cars until they die from their injuries — cases of cruelty abound.

Yet, in a shocking 99.075% of these cases, the perpetrators walk free due to significant flaws in outdated legislation. Canada’s animal cruelty legislation has not been modernized since it was written in 1892 leaving law enforcement officers, attorneys and judges at a loss to effectively prosecute criminal acts of cruelty.

Meanwhile, there is an increasing trend globally to improve the protection of animals from cruelty. Over the last few decades, countries all over the world have updated or enacted new animal welfare legislation.

These facts prompted IFAW to undertake a comparison of animal protection legislation in Canada and 13 other countries around the world. The results demonstrate that Canada’s current legislation is woefully inadequate, lagging far behind many countries that recognize the importance of adequate animal protection laws.

The report examines legislation from Austria, Croatia, Great Britain, Germany, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland and Ukraine and compares them with Canada’s legislation. Startling facts revealed in the report include:

  • Canada ranks at the bottom of all comparisons;
  • Canada is alone in offering virtually no protection for wild and stray animals;
  • Canada’s legislation does not include a clear definition of “animal” whereas other countries are explicit;
  • Canada is the only country that does not provide protection for animals being trained to fight each other:
  • Canada is the only country that makes it virtually impossible to prosecute cases of neglect.

Updating the Criminal Code of Canada will provide the courts and police with clear, effective means to prosecute, convict and to potentially mitigate acts of unacceptable animal cruelty. It will also allow politicians to respond to the overwhelming majority of Canadians representing all political parties who are outraged by heinous acts of animal cruelty. Finally, modern and effective legislation to protect all animals will bring Canada up to standard on the global stage.

World Animal Protection Index: The Animal Protection Index establishes a classification of 50 countries around the world according to their commitments to protect animals and improve animal welfare in policy and legislation. Canada gets a "D."

For those of you using Facebook, get the latest news from UDARW - the Universal Declaration on Animal Rights and Welfare

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