Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Outrage over sled dog deaths and brutal beating of a pit bull puppy spark calls for tougher legislative changes to Canada's animal welfare law

February 7, 2011 Kim Pemberton Vancouver Sun

Dog lovers in Victoria, Whistler and Vancouver held peaceful protest rallies this week after two highly publicized cases of dogs being senselessly killed in B.C. came to light. Animal rights activists used the opportunity to demand a change to Canada's outdated animal cruelty legislation - a law that has not been modernized since it was written in 1892.

In Vancouver's rally today, more than 800 signatures were gathered  calling for tougher animal cruelty legislation during the Barking Mad event. It was estimated 1,000 people showed up today, in the cold and rain, to voice their concern over the mass cull of 100 sled dogs last April. The dogs had been a part of an estimated 350 sled dog operation used by Outdoor Adventures during the winter Olympics. A similar event was held on Friday and Saturday in Whistler, after the dog culling story generated such a strong response both here in Canada and around the world.

Coincidentally, in the wake of the sled dog story the sentencing hearing for the man who pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary pain and suffering to a pit bull puppy named Bandit also unfolded this week. Hundreds gathered in B.C.'s capital after last Wednesday's sentencing of 24-year-old Brent Conners, who killed the puppy while on a steroid-fuelled rage New Year's Day. Bandit's injuries included 10 broken ribs, a broken jaw and internal bleeding.

Although crown asked the judge to impose a three month jail sentence, Judge Ernie Quantz sentenced him to six months in jail, less one month in jail for time already served, two years probation and a ban from owning animals for 10 years. The maximum jail time Conners could have been sentenced for the charge of causing the animal pain was 18 months. Conners  is the son of a retired Victoria police officer, who the court heard supports his son emotionally although others in his family signed a petition asking for a lengthy sentence.

According to a report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Canada is the only country which defines animal cruelty provisions under the law as violations of property. "This results in "unowned" animals, such as wildlife and strays, being virtually unprotected," the report state.

"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 per cent 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," said the IFAW report called Falling Behind: An international comparison of Canada's animal cruelty legislation.

The report, which compared animal protection legislation in 14 countries, also found Canada is the only one that does not provide protection for animals being trained to fight each other. You can read a copy of the report here.

"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." Animal rights activists are calling for people to contact their local politicians demanding animal protection laws are tightened.