Animal Cruelty Legislation

by Humane Canada
Animal Cruelty Legislation
Animal Cruelty Legislation
Animal Cruelty Legislation
Animal Cruelty Legislation

As 2021 ends we have more animal welfare milestones to CELEBRATE TOGETHER!  We are really starting to see our hard work in speaking up for animals bring us closer to the Humane Canada we all dream of… but we must keep the momentum going!  

This past Fall, for the first time in known history, animals made it to the election platforms of the major parties! Why is this so important?  When governments listen and laws change, animals can be afforded the protection, resources and justice that they deserve.  Now we will work harder than ever to ensure that those promises are upheld and the voices of animals are heard because we can clearly see the difference that work is making through our efforts to update animal cruelty legislation 

 You may remember that our support to draft, introduce and pass Bill S-203 in 2019 finally put an end to the captivity of whales, dolphins, and other cetaceans.  Now, two years later, on the 14th of December, MarineLand has been criminally charged for using captive Cetaceans for entertainment purposes.  

 These charges would not have been possible without the addition of an amendment to the code that Humane Canada helped to secure to make sure that remaining grandfathered captive cetaceans’ welfare would be protected within the law. Despite that law, MarineLand continued to make dolphins and belugas perform demeaning tricks in front of a crowd to earn their food. While we celebrate the victory of this charge today, many animals are still living in poor conditions and enduring chronic stress at MarineLand including Kiska, now known as “the loneliest whale in the world.” 

 With your support Humane Canada continues to strongly advocate for their welfare now with renewed hope that these sensitive, sentient beings can be released to better life in sanctuary and not sold to another park for entertainment.   

Thanks to donors like you we will continue to bring justice for animals, pushing for updates to our inadequate animal cruelty laws and recognition of animals as sentient beings who feel and experience pain and emotion. We will continue to keep you updated on this important work.  

Let's keep moving the needle forward for animal welfare into 2022! From our team at Humane Canada, we wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy New Year!

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Hello, 

We are pleased to share with you another big success in our work to better protect animals and to have those in the justice system understand the links between animal violence and human violence.  

On May 6th, 2021, Bill C-3 to Amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code, passed into law. This Bill requires that new judges agree to undergo training on sexual assault and systemic racism before they're appointed to the bench.  Why is it good news for animals? We are happy to say that our proposal for Judges to be trained on the Violence Link was accepted 

Violence Link crimes victimize some of the most vulnerable in our society. Perpetrators use animal abuse to coerce, control, and intimidate women, children and elders to be silent about their abuse, preventing them from leaving, and force them to return. Animals and their abuse are often invisible in these crimes, and this training will ensure judges better understand the Violence Link as they preside over cases. 

Humane Canada submitted a statement and an observation asking the Canadian Senate to include training on the Violence Link in this bill, and we are so pleased that it was accepted.  As we continue to drive forward with our goal to secure stronger animal cruelty legislation, we are working to have animals recognized as victims in the Criminal Code, to ban puppy mills and to ban cosmetic testing on animals. It is a slow process but we have seen significant change recently toward a more Humane Canada. 

Thank you so much for your generous donation and support of Animal Cruelty Legislation, we will continue to keep you informed and updated on this important work. 

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a happy young girl with a dog and a cat
a happy young girl with a dog and a cat

On March 1st, 2021 new amendments to the Divorce Act 1985 came into force. The amendments shift the focus away from custody and access and instead put the best interests of the child first. 
 
In determining the best interests of the child for the purposes of making a parenting order or a contact order with a child, the court now considers a list of factors set out in Section 16(3) including family violence and its impact. 
 
Family violence is defined in Section 2 as: 
 
“any conduct, whether or not the conduct constitutes a criminal offence, by a family member towards another family member, that is violent or threatening or that constitutes a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour or that causes that other family member to fear for their own safety or for that of another person — and in the case of a child, the direct or indirect exposure to such conduct.” 
 
Specifically, the definition of family violence includes: 
 
“threats to kill or harm an animal or damage property; and the killing or harming of an animal or the damaging of property”. 
 
This change signals legislative recognition of the Violence Link. For example, in theory, where a spouse A has used threats to kill or harm a family pet as a means to control Spouse B, the court can take this into account in assessing the ability or willingness of Spouse A to take care of the child. 
 
This is a welcome step in the right direction. 

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In April this year, we shared with you our animal protection recommendations to the government with a focus on addressing animal sentience in our laws. 

I am so pleased to share with you that on November 17, 2020 a new Senate Bill was announced which will do just that. Humane Canada provided support, consultation and expert information in the creation of this important Bill.

The aptly named Jane Goodall Act builds on the law we helped pass last year phasing out whale and dolphin captivity. If passed, Bill 218 will ban the new captivity of great apes and elephants and ban their use for entertainment - like elephant rides and live shows. It also empowers the government to protect other species of captive animals like tigers.

Dr. Jane Goodall Zoomed in from the UK to introduce the new Bill alongside Senator Murray Sinclair and MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith. All three recognized animal sentience in their statements; 

“We live in a time, and a world, where respecting and caring for one another, and our shared planet is the only way forward,” said Dr. Goodall. “As humans around the world accept that animals are sentient beings, there is a growing call for improved living conditions and treatment of captive animals." 

"Animals think and feel, and they deserve our respect and compassion,” said Mr. Erskine-Smith. 

“Named in Dr. Goodall’s honour, this bill will create laws to better protect many animals, reflecting Indigenous values of respect and stewardship." said Senator Sinclair.

Below is a link to the Senate of Canada recordings. Please watch Senator Sinclair introduce the Bill - it is one of the most important statements made in Parliament regarding animal sentience and our responsibility to protect them. His statement starts at 17:28:24. 

In such a difficult and unprecedented year, I am so happy to share with you this wonderful news and to show you how your support is making a concrete difference. The Jane Goodall Act codifies mounting public support for strong legal protection for animals. Protecting animals in captivity and in the wild signals an unprecedented shift in Parliament toward integrated thinking about animals, people and the environment.

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Humane Canada™ is proposing Violence Link training for Judges be included in Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code. The Bill, which has been referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for review, would require newly appointed judges to take courses on sexual assault law.

According to a Maclean’s article “The need for judicial education in sexual assault trials is clear. The law of sexual assault is plagued by persistent rape myths and stereotypes, despite Parliament’s efforts to expunge them. When courts get these cases wrong, the human cost is high. Perpetrators may go unpunished. Witnesses may be humiliated. Victims may be discouraged from reporting crimes.”

The intent of Bill C-5 is clear and well-intended, however; it is missing an important component: a clause to make training on the Violence Link mandatory for the Judiciary. Humane Canada™ has requested to witness before Parliament and submitted a policy brief to the committee.

The Violence Link is the relation between cruelty to animals and violence against vulnerable people, mainly women and children. Recent studies in Canada confirm the high rate of co-existence of animal maltreatment and gender-based violence and the co-relation of animal abuse to the more severe forms of human abuse – both physical and sexual:

  • 89% of participants report their abusers engaged in animal abuse;
  • 65% report their abuser used physical harm to their animals to control, coerce or punish them;
  • 14.5% report their abuser killed their animals;
  • 56% of women who flee violence report delaying leaving their abusers due to concerns about the family pet;
  • 1/3 of those who do flee report returning to either check on the family pet or to move back in with the abuser because of the pet;
  • 82% of bestiality cases involve the sexual abuse of a child.

The above evidence-based research is a small sample of all of the research that indicates where there is animal abuse there is a high probability of human abuse, and sexual abuse is prevalent.

So why is training on the violence link imperative for judges? If the Judiciary is not aware of the evidenced-based research on the violence link, their ability to properly assess its implications will be hindered and sentences imposed may not \ address factors such as rehabilitation and protection of the public.

No one can make informed decisions if they do not have all of the information. Violence Link training, supported by the evidence-based research noted above, would assist Judges in their understanding of this important background and context of offenders and offences. More to the point, this training would equip Judges with the critical knowledge to assess and evaluate submissions and evidence in relation to sentencing of offenders for animal abuse, intimate partner violence, and sexual offences where there is a violence link context.

Bill C-5 is at a standstill in the legislative process due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Humane Canada™ will continue to push for these inclusions and keeping you updated on its progress. Thank you for your support.

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Humane Canada

Location: Ottawa, ON - Canada
Website:
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Twitter: @humanecanada
Project Leader:
Barbara Cartwright
Ottawa, ON Canada
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